One of the things I find really hard to do in life is to switch off and just chill out. I’m often strategising or reflecting even when I know I should be relaxing. But when I do finally get the opportunity to take at least two weeks off, to travel somewhere new, learn about a different culture I fully embrace it. The change of location helps to give me a sense of calm and re-fuels my energy so I am able to get back into my productive mode. A good holiday doesn’t even have to be expensive although I am more than partial to sipping a rum and coke on a beach somewhere tropical. I’m hoping that I will get better at savouring these moments and ensuring they remain a priority in addition to growing a successful business. I’ve tried to summarise what I think the main benefits if a good holiday are.
Recharge your batteries.
When I go on holiday it actually takes me a day or two get into the holiday mood and just chill out. I start to think about the things I should have done before leaving, the emails or calls I should have made and I start listing the things I need to do as soon as I get internet access. When I manage to get online depending on the wi-fi strength I can complete those last minute tasks. The trouble here is that I end up forming other lists of tasks to do and frequently check on emails. My sleep cycle also takes a while to adjust, so I end up working when I could be sleeping.
Once I realise the world will still go on even when I’m on holiday I can start to relax. My routine starts to change, I worry less about connectivity and I can actually enjoy a good nights sleep. I begin to enjoy the food, tasting whatever is on offer, drinking some new cocktail and taking a nap in the daytime just because I want to. Frequent feasting, a massage or two, a quiet walk with the wife all help me to de-stress. It might sound like I’ve suddenly become a slob but by doing this I feel so much more energised and ready to face the challenges of the real world with renewed vigour and sometimes a fresh perspective.
No matter how hard you work, everyone needs to take time off now and then to “sharpen the saw,” as Stephen Covey writes in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. By taking time off and re-energising, you are maximising your long term productivity and sharpening your focus of what is important.
Change your lens
Being on holiday can provide the quiet head space to clarify your thinking and approach problems from an alternative perspective. I often reflect on my successes and the things I want to improve. I may discuss the problem or plan with my wife or a friend. The dialogue that follows can often be very insightful, especially if I am willing to hear their honest and direct opinions. This process helps me to broaden my thinking. But even if I am not actively discussing a business idea or some problem I’m facing, the rich conversations I have with others often facilitates my growth. I love to talk and learn from others. Anything goes really, music, food, sport, politics and with people from a range of backgrounds. You often find people with conflicting ideas to your own and it’s often these people that can trigger renewed confidence in your own ideas or a change in your ideas. Either way offers an opportunity for growth.
After your holiday you might decide that you want your business to go in a different direction, you may feel like learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby you have been putting off. The reflective time allows you to face up to facts such needing to work harder in a certain subject at school, College, or University. Holidays can make you realise which fights are worth fighting for and which things need to be let go. Change your mental lens in order to see your dreams become a reality.
I love this doing this when I’m away because I get to think about what I really want to achieve in the next 12 months. So I write down everything I want to achieve first and then turn them in SMART goals that are:
I can hold myself to account and refer back to them to measure my progress.
Quality time with family and friends
I left this until the end as I think it is the most important. If I’m honest I know I should probably take note of this more. I can sometimes get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to reach out to family and friends. It really shouldn’t take a holiday for me to do this but whilst I am away I will send messages to friends and family that I have been meaning to but haven’t got round to. We often end up engaging in a game ‘what’s app ping pong’ which makes you realise that if you don’t keep in touch you could miss out on important events and the chance to be a good friend to others.
Obviously if you travel with people then the opportunity for quality time is immense. A nice dinner, bottle of wine, a cultural visit, some adrenaline fuelled activity, a game of cards, swimming in the sea, driving into the countryside all provide the opportunity for creating shared memories. These shared experiences and memories later fuel your desire to succeed so that your loved ones will be proud, but also so that you can look forward to your next holiday and another opportunity for that quality time.