You may think that "How to take a holiday" is a silly title for an article. Surely we all know how to do that, right? In reality, many people find it difficult to take all of their annual leave each year. Worse yet is that even when people manage to take some time off work, many spend most of the time wound up, thinking about work, or feeling guilty for not being in the office. Pretty crazy, right? So with the holiday season looming, here's how to make sure you get the time off you need this year.
But first, let me 'fess up. Until a few years ago, I never, ever, took more than a week's break at any given time, and there were a few years there where I didn't take a break at all. The times when I did take a rare week off, I always checked my emails while away, called the office to generally let everyone know that I wasn't really on holidays (not really), and I was still completely contactable and could be on any necessary conference call that I needed to be, blah, blah, blah, ad nauseam, here. Shocker, right? Or does that sound familiar? You'd be in good company.
We think we are indispensable and that our workplace cannot do without us. Or we are worried for our jobs if we take too much time out. But the reality is that your talent and the value you add will be fresher and you'll be more innovative when you come back from a few weeks off, rather than if you slog your guts out for six months straight without so much as a long weekend to catch your breath.
It's an amazing feeling, to be able to switch off from the routine of daily life. No meetings, no conference calls, hopefully few cooking or domestic tasks, no school lunches, no homework, nothing of a regular nature to contend with. The body and the brain can just let go and relax. And the spirit gets that chance to recharge as well.
So how can you get from where you might be (working like a dog) to where you want to be (relaxing by the beach)? Here are three thought starters to get you moving in the right direction.
Get real about your mindset
We all know those people at work who moan and groan that they haven't taken a holiday in five years. Really? No one likes a martyr, so don't be one. Shifting your mindset is the first really important step; you need a mindset of permission. Permission you give to yourself, to just be, to switch off, relax, let go and take that break. The days of slogging your guts out for endless months without a break, hoping someone will notice, and killing yourself in the process, are over. And if it's not over where you work, go find somewhere else to work, where they respect what your body, mind and spirit need to flourish.
I am not saying that it is easy for everyone to just pack up and head off. There are bosses and clients and people we are responsible for. We all live in the real world. But when you do the planning, get the right agreements in place, and effectively manage your workload, you can take the breaks you need. Plan it in advance to give you the best chance of making it work. Look for the quiet periods if possible, and if there really aren't any, work with your colleagues, boss or clients to schedule the work around your time off. Everyone needs breaks, and most people understand this and will be accommodating when you state your needs.
It's not just about the big holiday
The annual break is fabulous, but you need to work out how to build frequent breaks into your working schedule – long weekends, a week off every couple of months, and then a longer break, of at least a few weeks, once a year. These are all necessary parts of rest and recovery from your busy working life, and will help you to perform at your peak. Right now, look at your calendar for 2013 (scary, I know!) and see where you can put in some breaks now.
Pencil them in if you have to, but get them in there. If you need to change them later, then move them. Don't cancel them! Having smaller breaks throughout the year can make all the difference to your health and wellbeing, as well as your productivity and success.
Breaks are not a luxury – they are a necessity for you to reach your ultimate potential. And you know what they say – all work and no play makes Betty a very boring girl – and no one wants to be boring! Now, will it be Tahiti or the Bahamas?
For more tips like these, check out Megan's new book Getting Real About Having It All
Megan Dalla-Camina is a strategist, author, coach and speaker on women, leadership and wellbeing. With Masters degrees in both Business Management and Wellness, a PhD underway in Gender Studies, and two decades as a business leader, she blends science with experience to drive results that matter. Megan's book, Getting Real About Having It All, has become the bible for working women who want to create a thriving career and life.