Work Between Vacations

Cinque Terre: veduta di Manarola, La Spezia (La Spezia, Cinque TI’m a variety freak. I get bored very quickly and constantly need new training routines, new projects, new books, new adventures to keep me engaged and growing. One of the ways I do that is by traveling (sometimes to other countries and sometimes just a quick weekend getaway in the next town over). In 2017 alone, I’ll be traveling to the Bahamas, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Boston, NYC, Washington DC, Twin Cities, the Grand Canyon, Kentucky, Ottawa, Lake Placid, Utah, and a tentative trip planned to the Galapagos Islands in December. That’s almost 20 trips planned – most of which are happening the first half of the year. And only about 30% of that travel is for business. The rest are adventure trips with the boys, weekend getaways with my wife, or family vacations. I didn’t get there overnight. But I was clear on my goals and priorities and designed my life such that I can work between vacations, not work and wait for a vacation to arrive.

Here’s the thing. Most people don’t plan vacations. And why not? Usually for two main reasons: They don’t think they’ll earn or save enough money to pay for a vacation or they think they don’t have the time/can’t get away from XYZ responsibility at work or at home. Both of which are false, by the way. If you don’t plan even one vacation for the year, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy – you are telling yourself that you can’t earn or save enough money or that you don’t deserve to take time off (that’s a whole psychological discussion for another time). But you DO deserve to take time off. In fact, you MUST in order to be the best version of you at home, at work, and for your business.

Entrepreneurs, especially, are susceptible to falling into the trap of go, go, going. Actually, they are often told when they start off to get ready to survive on 2 hours of sleep a night, that their next vacation won’t be for at least another 3 years, and oh yeah, forget about holidays with the family. I was told that too when I first started to build my business! But I wasn’t willing to accept that. Don’t get me wrong, building a business and building the life of success and freedom that you want requires a lot of hard work and sacrifices. You just have to decided what your boundaries are and what sacrifices you are willing to make. Having new experiences and new adventures and spending time with my family were things that I was not willing to give up. And if I had decided to keep my head down and opt-out of hiking Kilimanjaro, or going to the Bahamas with my family, or training for the Ironman, would I really have been able to build my company faster? I think not…

I choose to work between vacations and you can too.

Most thought leaders and business gurus will recommend you take a week long vacation every 90 days. And I think that is a great place to start. Studies have shown that you are more productive leading up to a vacation and 90 days is plenty of time to implement a new initiative, hit some big sales numbers, or finish a project. When you know at the beginning of the year that you’ve got 4 vacations planned, how would that change your level of output, focus, and general attitude? Sure, we all want to be working for an organization that we don’t NEED a vacation from… but no matter how much you love your work, you still deserve to take time off. It will actually help your energy levels, focus, and productivity in the long run.

camplingSo, week long vacations are great. But I’m also a huge fan of the long weekend. And I’m not talking about a private jet whisking me away to a chalet in Aspen. I’m talking about going to a local inn on the lake or just going camping. It’s not about the extravagance of the trip, it’s about the experience. For example, I’m flying to NYC for just one night with my wife and two older children – but our two days will be packed with a visit to the American Museum of Natural History, breakfast at the Stardust Diner in Times Square, and walks through Central Park.

And if you already travel a lot for business – great! Bring your family along. I’m teaching a course in Phoenix in June, so my wife will be joining me and we’ll be extending the trip a few days to include some hiking and time at the spa. I strive to maximize my time like that whenever possible. If I’m on a hunting trip with my Dad, I may spend some of that unplugged, solo time writing. Or if I’m traveling to Disney with the family, I may schedule a training or consulting gig in the area. Maximize your time whenever you can.

By building in longer trips and mini-vacations frequently throughout the year, it forces me to be laser-focused on only what is most important in my organization and creates a sense of urgency to get shit done. I work in bursts during my day, so why wouldn’t my months be full of bursts of work too?  Working between vacations means every day is packed and purposeful. It forces you to employ extreme time management techniques and to say no to anything that is not 100% mission-critical and pushes you take action. Bottom line? Taking more vacations equals more productivity, faster growth, and extreme clarity.

Take a vacation. Schedule a long weekend away from the office and your business. Shaking up your routine is important to gain clarity, to recharge, refresh, refocus, to be able to tackle problems from new angles, and think about ideas with a new perspective. You’re not going to solve all the challenges of your organization sitting behind your desk.

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