Sometimes, it’s unrealistic not to work on vacation. It is true that certain positions and situations require that we check-in (e.g. contract negotiations/project deadlines slip; you hold an upper-level management position; or you work in a workaholic-type business culture that doesn’t support you fully unplugging). Just remember – the goal is not to make it “all or nothing” – the goal is to reflect honestly on your own personal trends and identify opportunities for change. Are you improving in your ability to step away? Do you feel trapped and unable to detach due to external pressure? Are you repeating workaholic cycles that you know are unhealthy – and if so, are these self-imposed or externally-imposed? What could bring you more ease in this moment, no matter how small of a step that might be? As you reflect on these questions and the answers to them, below are some of my favorite support tools and reminders as you navigate situations where you just can’t seem to walk away:
- Tool #1: Set A Challenging and Achievable Goal:
- Be Realistic: Whatever is a realistic, doable step for you – this is a good place to start. Maybe it’s working one afternoon every few days on vacation, or maybe it’s checking in via Skype or phone but not email… There is no right or wrong answer. Personally, I have benefited most from detaching fully for short periods of time and gradually extending these out.
- Don’t Lose Sight of the End Game: Your end game is finding a balance for yourself. If this is your first vacation trying to fully unplug, just try it – even if only for a short stint. The goal isn’t to feel added pressure (you don’t have to go all or nothing). It’s ok to find a balanced – a middle ground. The trick is to find a realistic level for yourself and work towards it. Also, remember the goal is for long term improvement. If you have two or three vacations over the course of the next year – set a short term goal and long term goal. See if your 3rd vacation is more offline than the first. Allow wiggle room, but don’t let yourself cower from the struggle either.
- Tool #2: Remember Why You Want To Disconnect: Setting an intention and remembering why you are choosing to disconnect is one of the most critical steps you can take. Really taking time to reflect and internally align yourself with your goal is critical to your follow-through. For example, two reasons I fully disconnect are: 1) I feel better 2) It’s medically proven we need to disconnect (read article #2 for articles and source references). Furthermore, time and experience have proven to me that I’m better at my job because of how well I take care of myself. Simply put, I think more strategically and make better decisions, my creativity, and problem-solving skills increase, and I’m more patient and less reactive to stressful situations at work. Whatever your intention is – remember your goal and remind yourself of it daily.
- Tool #3: Reminders for Workaholics
- Trust Your Colleagues: Remember you work with intelligent and capable people. Learning to trust others and empowering them to manage emergencies increases the capacity of the team. Teaching teams the difference between a manageable emergency versus a crisis is a gift to both of you.
- Humble Yourself: It’s nice to think we are central and critical for the success of our organization. Yet, unless we are the sole owner and member of the company – it’s far from the truth (even then, hopefully, we have established some boundaries with our clients!). Remember the value of teamwork and the gift of humility.
- Remember the Benefits to Your Office & Team: There are multiple benefits fully detaching from the office that provides your company and team (business resiliency, the inspiration for colleagues, fresh perspective, and new insights, helps highlight your current workload and your value to the organization, etc.). For more details read Article #1 & Article #2.