I am just back from a one week vacation and it is a) the first time I’ve taken an entire week off in more than a year, and b) well overdue. It seems ridiculously obvious, but you need to recharge by taking time off.
But, for those of you who need reasons as to why, here are a few that I can personally vouch for their validity.
Expand Your Toolbox
It’s so easy when you’re working 8, 10, 12-hour days to keep using the same approaches, tools, and frameworks to tackle people problems, data problems, analysis problems — all of your work “problems”. More often than not, we get so busy that we don’t have the time to either figure out something new or go find something new. We’re all bombarded by emails, shifting priorities, and deadlines.
When you go on vacation, you get a chance to catch up on your professional reading. Maybe you get to see what your industry peers are saying on LinkedIn or in magazines. Or perhaps you can actually have the eight hours to think, critically, about and through a particularly different problem without being interrupted.
Or, better yet, you can–
Do some reading that’s completely unrelated to your work. While on vacation I tackled a few books, both fiction and non-fiction, and they were immensely eye-opening. I find that problems and challenges can be abstracted; once you do, certain fundamentals rise to the top – the real issues become visible, you stop chasing symptoms and you can get to the heart of the matter.
And that’s where creativity comes in. Because an abstracted problem may show that your fundamental issues have been solved in some other capacity in some other place. So, read for fun. Watch some silly television. Make play dough – get creative and it may give you some wacky ideas which will turn out to be really valuable when you get back to the office.
Figure Out the Next Step
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be doing what I do every day for the rest of my life. I may go back to school. I may change industries. I may not; I may stay in finance for the rest of my life and move around. I don’t know, but what I do know is that I can’t figure that out when I’m working five days a week and trying to get in some R&R on weekends (while saving Sunday nights for prepping for Monday mornings).
Holidays provide you the opportunity to figure out the next step and we need that, we need to pick our heads up from our desks and look past the tips of our nose into what comes next. Where we want to be, who we want to be with, what we want to be doing, when we intend to do it, and how we’re going to get there. It can be incredibly motivating to have a plan, and we all need a little motivation, don’t we?
So, that’s what I took away from my vacation, and I’m all ready to get back to work. Hope I’ve given you some ideas and some encouragement to take a few days for yourself soon. Spring is coming in New York – go get some fresh air.