Are you taking a vacation this year? No, not an extended weekend. A real vacation. How long has it been since you’ve taken one? It was eight years for us.
My family and I just returned from our first vacation since my wife and I have been married. It has been way too long. We’ve continually made excuses about why we didn’t ever take one.
We can’t afford it.
I can’t be away from work that long.
Our daughter has other activities she’ll miss.
It would be miserable to ride in the car that long.
And, on and on we would go…
This year, my wife convinced me we just needed to go. We could afford it. The girls could miss their other activities. We would fly. She had answers for all the basic arguments. Most importantly though, I needed to get away. She didn’t really have to sell me on the idea.
So we went.
We had fun.
We came home.
I learned some things during our first family vacation. Most, if not all, of these lessons can be applied to your career as well as your family/personal life. Here is what I learned:
Say yes more than no – If you have children, “no” is probably the word they hear more than any other. We say it so much! Maybe you try to phrase it differently but you’re still saying “no.”
Why not say “yes” more often? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone spoiling your children or teaching them it’s their right to have anything they want. That’s not the point. The point is to be more positive than negative.
Imagine what would happen to your morale if your boss said “yes” more often to your ideas or questions. If you’re in management of at any level, wouldn’t your employees like to hear positive things from you?
My children (and wife) reacted well to me being a “yes man” while on vacation. I didn’t think (much) about the money we were spending. It was worth it to see the smiling and sometimes frozen yogurt-dripping faces because I said yes.
Enjoy the simple things in life – My wife and I often look at each other and smile when one of our kids says something cute. The small things they say or do bring us the most joy. Enjoy watching your children play, the flirtatious smile from your spouse, the taste of a great cup of coffee or a beautiful sunset. Regardless of how insignificant it is, enjoy it.
The same goes for your career. Enjoy the simple things. Take pride in doing a good job. Rejoice when you actually receive praise from a boss or even a peer. Compliment or acknowledge someone else so they have the same feeling.
Go with the flow – The best laid plans don’t always turn out like you expected. Change is inevitable. You can choose how you react to changes. You can gripe and complain or you can accept them and go with the flow.
If you know something will go wrong, you will not get as frustrated when it occurs. I’ve told many couples this before they got married. Something will always go wrong during a wedding. The same happens with every vacation.
Something will also happen in your career. The proverbial wrench will be thrown into it. Do what you can to mitigate the damage of the event and move on. Don’t dwell on it. It’s going to happen.
Mitigate known risks – The biggest risk of a beach vacation is getting a sunburn. You can mitigate the risk one of two ways. You can either wear sunscreen or stay in doors. We chose the sunscreen option.
You can also mitigate big risks in your career. Take advice from mentors and co-workers. Use your personal experience to make the right decisions for the chances you take. Think about what you will do before you do it.
It’s good to get away but good to come home too – You can’t work all the time. You need to get away. We all do. I’ve heard of several studies that show workaholics are very productive in the short-term but burn out quickly in the long-term.
I’ve suffered the workaholic syndrome over the years. Instead of burn out, I get sick. It’s happened several times. I’m now more conscious of not working too much and force myself to take days off.
Make an effort to not think about work in the evenings. Don’t check your email or voice mail. The questions can wait until the morning. The same goes for the weekends. If you must work, be focused and then stop.
It was so good to focus on my family for an entire week. I broke down one time and checked my email from my phone but I only deleted emails. I didn’t reply to or address any. The remainder of the vacation was for family or myself.
After an entire week with the family, we all needed some time a part. We needed a vacation from the vacation, per se. It was good to get home and get back to normal activities. It was good to get back to work and be in the routine of every day life. It was actually refreshing.
If you don’t love your job, you must think I’m crazy for wanting to go back to work. I’m not ashamed to admit I love my job and enjoy working. You can love your job too. It takes work, however, to get to that point.
There are other lessons I learned from this family vacation. The lessons I learned from those I just mentioned though, will have the greatest impact on me, my family and my career.
If you haven’t taken a vacation in a while, take one. You need to get away. You and your family need to spend quality time together. Pick a destination. Don’t make excuses. Just go. You’ll thank yourself later.