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Scott Peltin

It's that time of year again when most of you are about to take your summer 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 correctly), and about 70% of you will return from vacation as tired or more tired than when you left.

Most of you will plan the days of your vacation (when), the location of your trip (where), and maybe even the things you plan to do on your vacation (what). The question is, do you know the "why" of your vacation? I know it sounds simple, but we have found that almost 3 out of every 4 of our executives fail to plan this part of their time off.


Executives often ask us, "How long does a vacation need to be in order to recharge?" Well, that depends on what you do and whether or not you connect this "what" of your vacation with a clear "why." 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 3 to 5 days.

Unfortunately, what often happens is people don't connect the "what" to the "why" and end up taking a week-long vacation with 15 or more planned, high intensity activities. If they have kids, they hit all the amusement parks, zoos, and museums while sprinting from line to line eating nothing but amusement park fast food. They fill their nights with even more activities and, come Sunday, they are exhausted. When we ask them what their "why" was to their time away, they pause and usually say something like: "I just wanted to relax, recover, and reconnect with my kids and spouse and also have some fun." This intention could have easily been achieved with 2 days of those high intensity activities along with some quiet family time playing games, going for walks, doing some family exercise, and hanging out together.


Once you are clear with the "why" of your vacation, the next critical step is to have a transition into and out of your 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 after your vacation. 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 to fit you. 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.


It's critical to plan the "why" part of your vacation because, once you do, it becomes a lot easier to align the "what" of your trip to the vacation you're really looking for. Here are a few questions to help you get what you want/need as you plan this year's summer vacation:

_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. Connecting the what, when, where, and why of your trip is necessary to design your best ever summer vacation. I bet your 4th quarter results will show the difference after getting what you really want and need from your break. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

By Scott Peltin //

Chief Performance Officer