Vacation Like You Mean It

Last month, like many of you, I took a summer vacation. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that most of my vacations mean reducing the amount of time at my laptop tending to business. Can you relate to the difficulty I have letting go?

But this trip was a far different story, thanks to the nature of our destination – the Canadian Rockies. With zero cell service, I was forced to totally unplug and engage full throttle in my vacation. What a difference an unplugged week can make – there is simply no way to explain the digital device freedom.

Philosophical Note:
Fresh from my electronic cleanse, I find it ironic that laptops, tablets, and smart phones promise freedom from having to be tethered to our desks. In exchange for this mobility, we’ve “sold our souls” to feeling obligated to be available 24/7.

Fully engaged, I fully enjoyed: rafting down rapids on the Athabasca River; to hiking around lakes, up tea houses, and to beautiful lookout points; a sunrise canoe experience; biking through trails observing prairie dogs and moose up close and personal; swooning over to spectacular sunsets. I’ve always marveled at the simple beauty of nature, but this opportunity to unplug gave me an intoxicating appreciation.

In fact, it became a valuable experience as the wilderness inspired abstract thoughts and new ideas. I couldn’t wait to share all of this with my team and my clients. Most importantly I felt refreshed and reenergized.

As I integrated back into office mode, I wondered about how many of us spend vacations. In fact, SHRM reports vacation time is the most important benefit after health insurance and yet Americans end up using only about half of their eligible vacation time. No wonder more than
three-fourths of today’s workforce show signs of burnout and we’ve reached a critical juncture, the pinnacle of which is manifesting itself as a labor shortage.

It seems ridiculously simple but I finally learned the value of taking the time to unplug and rejuvenate is critical to our health and well-being. What’s more, we strengthen our ability to engage and be productive in our work.

From a staycation to a destination trip, vacation needs to be an unplugged engaging experience that includes a few things – outside of “normal”. From a visit to a regional or national park to your favorite type of museum, beach to hammock, a hike, biking, a cooking lesson, touring MLB stadiums. Plan your time out of the office like you plan an office project to make the most of your vacation. Put away your digital devices and engage differently for a long weekend, two weeks and everything in between.

Trust me: It may feel strange at first, but you will not miss work, you will be re-energized, you will feel great, and those around you will surely notice your post-vacation glow. Be sure to let me know about your next vacay. Did you unplug? How did it feel? Are you glowing?