Does your time off have purpose? Taking the right vacation can recharge your batteries, foster relationships with loved ones, and help you relax.
As I write this, I’m 3 days away from a much needed 7-day vacation. I’ve come to realize that everyone has a different definition of the word “vacation”. Some people travel, some do “staycations” and wish to do anything but travel. Some people want to be as busy as they can possibly be during their vacation, others seek a vacation where they do as little as possible. Some people aim to escape their daily work, others can’t drag themselves away, and in fact miss it if they are away from it.
The question I am asking myself right now is “What does vacation mean to me? What is the purpose of it?” And I actually needed some time to reflect upon it, because like most of you, I’ve never asked myself that question. I have taken all kinds of vacations in the past. I’ve taken vacations that look a lot like work to some people such as hiking hundreds of miles and living out of a tent with no luxury to speak of. I’ve taken vacations specifically targeted at exploration of the world, such as trips to Africa. I’ve taken trips to beach type destinations with the intention of reading books and being as lazy as I can. I’ve done “staycations” where I’ve taken time away from work so I can do projects on my house.
When I look back at times I’ve taken vacation in my life I realize that I never put any thought into WHY I was taking vacation, I just took them. Perhaps subconsciously, I think I always took vacations for precisely what I needed in my life at that time. When I felt like my life was getting a little too boring, I took trips to far off foreign lands, etc.
So when I proactively think about why I’m taking this vacation I realize that I am fulfilling a “self-care” need in my life right now. I’m not “burnt out” at work, I love my job and enjoy it most days. I don’t feel a need to do something I’ve never done before. I’m doing the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. For those of you who know me or have read about my adventures in the past, you know that I’ve done 10 or so trips on the Allagash already. So why would I do this again? The answer is that the need I am seeking, is connection with my wife and disconnection with everything else. She works nights, I work days. We both spend countless hours working from home. We rarely get to eat meals together. When we have days off together we are too tired from the hustle and bustle of daily life to do much of anything together. We make statements to each other like “I feel like I have barely seen you for weeks!” and “Hi… Bye” when one of us is coming home while the other is leaving.
So my vacation is going to be 7 days with no cell reception, no electricity, no work, connection with my wife, and disconnection with the outside world. So I say to the outside world, “I’ll see you in 7 days, this is what I need for good self-care right now.”
What are your self-care needs? If you woke up tomorrow on vacation where would you be? Who would you be with? What would be the needs you would be fulfilling so your proverbial batteries would be recharged when you returned?
Rory K. McLaughlin, CEO