It's that time of year again and most of you are going to take your vacation. Sadly, our experience tells us that over 60% of you will get sick, over 85% of you will work on your vacation (not necessarily a bad thing if done right), and about 70% of you will return from vacation as tired or more tired than when you left.
For most people, you will plan the days (how long) of your vacation, the location (where) of your vacation, and maybe even the things you plan to do (what) on your vacation. Too often many of our clients forget the 'Why" of your vacation. I know it sounds simple, but it happens all the time.
Executives often ask us, "How long does a vacation need to be in order to recharge?" That depends on whether you are really aware that recharging was the reason for your vacation. When a person makes recharging their number one priority and plans all of the events of their vacation accordingly, they may be able to physically recharge in as little as 5 days. Unfortunately, what happens too often is a person takes a week vacation, thinks their priority is physically recharging, then exercises at a high intensity 5 days in a row and returns sore, exhausted, and definitely not restored. Why did this happen? Their actions didn’t connect with the "Why" of recharging. Instead, they acted as if the “Why" was to do a cram session/bootcamp approach to try and get physically fit. I’m not saying exercising is a bad thing, but I am saying that if your "Why" is recharging, the way you exercise will be completely different.
Similarly, many executives don’t properly transition into and out of their vacation. Without this transition, you will bring your work self on vacation (unable to turn off, completely connected to work, somewhat detached from the family, etc.) and you will bring your vacation self (kicking back and not fully engaged, going with the flow without a plan, etc.) back to work once your vacation is over. This self-image trap can be avoided by creating a transition where you first ask yourself, “Who do I need to be to maximize my effectiveness?” both going into vacation and coming off vacation. You should also spend a little time visualizing yourself as that person so your brain can actually believe that you can make it happen.
One common question that comes up in our coaching is whether to work or not work during vacation. The truth is that it really depends. If you would feel better by being able to just check in and cut off any potential critical items, you may want to adapt the 60-minute work sprint in the morning during vacation (followed of course by 23 hours of being fully off). If, on the other hand, you can’t turn your mind off once it gets turned on during vacation, it may be better to fully delegate your responsibilities, perform a thorough handoff at least one day before leaving on vacation, and then staying shut down throughout your vacation. Both of these situations can work, but they must be designed. If you leave it to chance, you are leaving the door open for work creep and potentially creating a huge source of conflict with your family.
As you plan this year's summer vacation, here are a few questions to help you get what you want/need:
_Why am I taking this vacation (e.g., recharge my batteries, reconnect with friends/family, change the scenery, have fun, go somewhere I've never been, cross something off my bucket list, get back in shape, work on my golf game, finish my manuscript)?
_When I return from my vacation, how do I want to feel (e.g., relaxed, energized, pain-free, focused, passionate, creative, in love, reconnected to my family)?
_What would it look like if I felt that way? How would I stand, walk, interact with others, etc.?
_What do I need to do on this vacation to make this vision of success a reality?
Sustainable High Performance doesn't happen by luck or chance, it happens by design. This is why you may want to design this year's vacation to make it the best ever. I bet your 4th quarter results will show the difference. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
By Scott Peltin
Founder/Chief Performance Officer