Summertime is notorious for ‘’vacations.’’ This year, I am saving my official vacation for the end of the summer, but I refuse to postpone my rejuvenation until then. If you’ve been following my twitter account, you’ll know that I have been taking advantage of the July heat to enjoy several day trip ‘’vacations’’ in our own backyard. Instead of waiting for the big trip, I’m taking time every week – sometimes three times a week – to recharge myself, reconnect with friends, and remember one of the reasons I want to run my own company: the freedom to make my own harmony.
Rejuvenate – to make something young again; to restore to a former state; to bring back life and energy.
There are several different ways to explain this process, but none can compare to the importance of actually going through it. Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People calls it “Sharpening the Saw.” Many blogs and articles published in the last few years refer to it as “self care.” In our household, it is called “vacation.”
Before I met my life partner, I was a workaholic. I loved my job; I worked for a cause that I truly believed in; and I made a difference in many lives. But, I was burning out. In fact, it was my friend (who later became my life partner) returning to the city we met in that made me realize that I was really missing having a social life outside of work. We weren’t very close friends, but I was thrilled with the idea of catching up with someone outside of my work friends. I was so excited that I told him that we needed to grab beers when he got into town. (For a nearly-raw vegan, “grabbing beers” illustrated a strong desire for connection.) Taking a break on a patio seemed like heaven on earth that spring…
Since that first beer, I have continued to trust my partner’s suggestion to take a break. Our first “vacation” together was meeting his mother. The four days away from work pushed me to stop thinking about work problems – and other people’s work problems – for at least a day. That was a big accomplishment for me then! Soon afterwards, we started taking day trips, and weekends away to my parents’ acreage, where there was no cell-phone reception, and I couldn’t be disturbed by work.
Every workaholic has their own reasons for being a workaholic, but the need for rejuvenation is the same for everybody. Some people can do it every night when they get home from work and throw off their “working” hat when they walk through the door. Other people need a full weekend – Saturday to detach with their personal errands, and then Sunday to truly relax – to rejuvenate. As a manager, I felt guilty is I wasn’t available to my employees if they needed me: morning, evening or weekend. There was only a 7-hour window when my phone was set to automatically block any texts or phone calls except for family (I highly recommend this!) while I slept. To fully “turn off” my working hat and allow myself to rejuvenate, I needed to be on “vacation.”
The benefits were well worth it! Every time I took a step away from working, I gained more insight on something that was more important to me. I still loved my job, but it was burning me out to devote so much time to somebody else’s small business. Long before I had started that workaholic job, I knew that it would be valuable experience for when I reached my ultimate dream: working for myself. Each vacation reminded me of that greater goal, and I gained a deeper sense of what that work might be.
One fateful October, we took a weekend getaway to the mountains Phone calls from work had us pulling over on the side of the road, as I dealt with crisis after crisis on my day off. I take full responsibility for leaving my phone on during my weekend away, but the experience helped me realize how much I needed a change. That weekend, I knew I had to leave my workaholic-day-job in order to build a company for myself. A month later, I had resigned from the job that pushed me into workaholic mode and gained one with much less responsibility, and way more time to take care of myself and my family. We call this job my “wait-station” because it’s not my end goal. It’s not yet “working for myself.” I still wasn’t sure what I needed to do. Time for a vacation…
That winter, we spent a week in Mexico. For anybody who lives in northern Canada and suffers from S.A.D. (Seasonal Acute Depression), you can only imagine what a week of sunshine, swimming, and exploring a new-to-us country was like. I had also just agreed to take on a bit more responsibility at my “wait-station” job, and I loved the opportunity to gain clarity on my larger goal before being sucked back in to my workaholic ways. And then, my life partner said something that week that really struck home: “You’re really happy right now. I’ve missed that.”
Wow! Hold the phone! (…and the internet, too, because we all know how much that sucks us into workaholic mode.) Was I not happy in my regular life? But, I left that workaholic-day-job for one that gave me more time for me. In our day-to-day lives, though, I wasn’t really happy. Not, giggling in the back of an open-air taxi, talking to street vendors, and eating guacamole for breakfast kind of happy. I was stressed! I was thinking about money, worried about going out on my own, and terrified that I might succeed and then fail miserably (a complicated neurosis). My real life lacked the “vacation happy” that we spent most of our lives looking forward to. Is that really how I wanted to live?
Of course not! Who wants to spend their lives waiting to be happy, stress-free, and relaxed? That is NOT why I wanted to be my own boss. Not to mention that being stressed-out greatly impacts how well I do my job, and how much I can give to an employer, my coworkers, or my clients. I needed to capture this happiness from a vacation on an ongoing basis.
Ongoing rejuvenation is not a new idea! In the first part of last century, workers fought for the right to have 2 days off every week. Before then, and in other areas of the world, religious doctrine dictates that we should have a minimum of one day a week off. Why? To rejuvenate! Rejuvenation restores our energy, let’s our mind rest, and even refreshes our creativity. In this workaholic-always-connected century, though, we tend to never stop – and even idolize – working EVERY day. Is it really worth it? No!
As my early “vacations” showed me, taking time to recharge didn’t “slow me down.” In fact, it did the opposite! I gained more insight into what I really wanted to do. It reminded me of what was more important to me. And, it restored my energy so I could be even more efficient – nay, effective – in both my day job, and in reaching for my ultimate goal.
Do you always need to take a mini vacation for this rejuvenation to happen? Not at all. Staycations can be just as good for many people. (If you are easily distracted by housework, your easily-accessible work email, or the need to check on work “just in case,” get out of town!) Does it have to be a certain length? Nope! Taking some time every day is actually best. Twenty minutes of meditating, reading a book for fun, relaxing with your favourite show, or even walking around the neighbourhood are GREAT ways to rejuvenate daily!
My biggest recommendation is turning off your electronics! If your phone has an “airplane” mode, find it and use it. You don’t need to be connected all of the time. If you enjoy baths, take one! A culture buff? Soak up all the amazing festivals that happen throughout the summer months, and even the year. Whatever will bring you back happiness, relaxation, and harmony – do it! You deserve to rejuvenate…
Looking for ways for yourself to rejuvenate? Contact me for a complimentary coaching session this month where we can build “rejuvenation” into your plan for harmony!