It’s fall break where I live, so those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I’ve been traveling this week. Packing the car and hitting the road is one of my very favorite things to do in the whole wide world. I love weeks like this.
While walking on the beach, or sitting on the porch overlooking the water, I’ve been thinking about you, and the stresses that I know so many of you deal with every day.
And I’ve got three simple questions for you.
And I mean a real vacation.
If you can’t answer that question, you’ve got a problem, plain and simple.
If you’re self employed, as I am, time away from work means time away from earning an income. And that can be a little scary. I get that. But, if you don’t plan for and take time off on a semi-regular basis, your brain gets overloaded, your creative juices will dry up, and you’ll be less and less effective in your business.
Considerably less effective.
And if you are fortunate enough to have paid vacation time that you’re not using, you are essentially handing a paycheck back to your employer without cashing it.
“No thanks, boss. I don’t really need those two weeks of paid time away to be with my family, have some fun, or get some much needed rest. Really! No, you keep it! But thanks!”
Really? Is that what you want?
2. What kind of time are you thinking of, when you say “vacation”?
Here’s a tip for you.
A long weekend is not a vacation.
A long weekend is a week END, not a week OFF. And even a week off isn’t really enough! You need a bare minimum of a week off to be able to get any kind of stress break at all.
But really, you need two.
Yes, that’s TWO, as in TWO consecutive, as in one-right-after-the-other, two-in-a-row Two Weeks Off. Fourteen Days.
Some of you are nodding your heads, because you know from experience that it takes at least one week to just stop thinking about work all the time.
It’s not until that second week that you truly begin to relax, to shift away from the constant worry that you carry around all the time, that worry that is so prevalent you don’t even notice it anymore…
But most of you are shaking your head, thinking I just don’t understand.
Yes I do.
I didn’t say this was easy. But taking this kind of ANNUAL break from the stress that I know you carry constantly is just as important as your annual physical. This is medicine for your spirit, and for your family.
It creates some pretty special memories too.
3. Where do you go, when you do take a vacation?
Here’s another tip.
A trip to the in-laws isn’t a vacation.
Not usually. Not unless that’s a rare trip that you hardly ever get to take. That’s a trip to see family.
It’s important, and can be a wonderful and valuable time, but it isn’t a vacation.
This summer I talked with several families who visit the same relatives in the same town, or at the same beach, or go to the same cabin, every single year. Year after year.
I know couples with kids who’ve been married for 20 years or more, yet have never traveled as a family unit of their own. There are no fond memories of discoveries made, adventures had, that were just mom, dad, and kids out on their own. There are plenty with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. But none with just mom and dad. Sister and brother. Just Us. :)
Listen. The point of a vacation is to rest, and renew, your spirit. For some of you, that might mean a quiet week at a beach. For others, it might mean a crazy week at Disneyworld. And there are a million possibilities in between those two extremes. (And I’ll give you some ideas in future posts.)
But the key is to use a different part of your brain, to experience a different part of the world, to sample a different bit of life for a week or two.
That’s when new ideas pop into your head, new memories are stored as favorites, new tales make their way into your family story.
That’s when your relationship with your spouse or your partner, your kids, or even your self, improves.
That’s when you re-discover that there important things in your life outside your job. Important PEOPLE in your life outside your job.
Vacation sounds like something a little silly, like that little fluff of cotton candy you might pick up at the fair. Kinda cute, a little sweet, but not really something you need.
But it’s not silly. It’s critical. Call it something else if that helps. Call it a week off for Family Self-Care. Call it Adventure Week. Rest Week. Exploration Week. Thinking Week.
Call it whatever you want. But take it. Start saving for it now. Start dreaming about it now. Start planning it NOW.
And if you need a sample, like a mini-taste of what vacation can do for you, join me for my Secret Adventure for Courageous Women. It’s NEXT Saturday, October 20, and registrations are coming in now.
As of this writing, I’ve got 6 spots left. Why don’t you join us? :))
BONUS QUESTION: Where could you go when you all take that week off next year?
Photo Credits: Wendy Pitts Reeves