As much as we like to focus on constantly taking our game to the next level and working towards our personal goals and vision, we MUST prioritize time for recovery and relaxation.

Finding time to recharge the batteries is critical in order to maintain our intensity and forward progress.  It’s also a chance for us to reward ourselves for our great progress – yes, we need to do that for ourselves too!

I’m writing this post from Hilton Head Island, SC while on a get-a-way with the family. For months now we have been counting down the days to our first vacation as a family of four, and after waiting out some weather delays at the airport we are kicking back and relaxing.

This trip ended up coming at a challenging time at work.  There is a project that I’ve been running for the past two months that is coming to a critical point the week I’m down here.  I don’t mention this to say I struggled with whether to cancel the vacation.  First, it never crossed my mind, and second, I would not have survived that decision – my 3 year old would have buried me with her new beach shovel and bucket.

I bring that up because it was a good reminder that things will keep moving forward without you.  It is also an opportunity to be grateful for my colleagues  who are taking the reigns while I am off.  This is a time to give myself permission to relax and recover from the craziness of life.  More so, as leaders we must know that we can step away and trust our teams to keep executing with excellence.  If your team or business literally cannot survive without you then you are doing something wrong.

R&R is not being lazy

Vacations are a beautiful thing.  I know this isn’t some great revelation, yet it is worth stating – specifically for those of us who are so focused on goals, careers, etc. who may feel they are being lazy during their time away.  There can be a sense of guilt for not being productive.  However, I think our time away is one of our best opportunities to be productive!

I would strongly argue that being on vacation and not doing work can actually be immensely productive and critical to our success.  Far too often we get caught up in the routines, busy work, and checking things off of our to-do list.  We think we are making great progress towards something, yet we are mostly just busy being busy.  Getting away from your normal routine creates an opportunity to let your mind be completely free.

The Physical, Mental & Spiritual Benefits of R&R Time

There are great opportunities to improve all areas of your life while on vacation, and here are just a few examples for each to help you take full advantage and begin to maximize the benefits of vacation –  it’s more than just sun tans and some semi-guilt free eating.

Your Body is Your [Vacation] Temple

While there is certainly a time and place to kick back Mai Tai’s, crush some ice cream or [insert your personal vacation-time vice here], R&R time is a great opportunity to revitalize your body.

  • Get some ‘vitamin nature’ – wherever you are – on a beach, in the mountains, or at a lake – get outside!  Soak in some vitamin D and fresh air, and allow yourself to feel alive again!  Our normal 9-5 existence is not very kind to our bodies.  Stuck in a desk and chair and sitting for an unnatural number of hours per day under fake lighting is not a recipe for being world class.  Let’s get outside, take off our shoes, and put feet in the sand or on the soft grass!
  • Workout differently – tell me if this sounds familiar – “I’m going to work out on vacation”.  I say that to myself every time, yet over 90% of the time nothing happens.  However, we can look at working out while on vacation differently.  No, I’m not hitting the weights or running, but the beauty of vacation is that there are new opportunities to push yourself – for us, biking is huge where we are, and after peddling for 5 minutes I felt the burn (add a 3 year old on the back for extra difficulty!)  How about swimming, surfing, hiking, walking, skiing, wrestling with the kiddos or any other physical activity that makes sense where you are – get out there and get after it (and have a ton of fun).

Reset your mind

Vacation time is a great opportunity to challenge your normal way of thinking that too often gets bogged down in the repetition and monotony of the day-to-day.

  • Take stock of what is truly important – For most, vacations are a time when we get away with those closest to us – our family and friends.  Be grateful for them – these are the people in our life that inspire us and will fuel us up and support us in all that we do.  Tell them how grateful you are for them and make some great memories.  Are things on your mind?  Need some advice?  Confide in them – which takes me to my next point…
  • Big Picture Thinking – Just like executives get away for a corporate retreat to plan their strategies for the future, we must get away and allow ourselves to think bigger about our own lives.  Being away from the normal backdrop of life allows us to take in all the new stimuli around us.  Open your eyes, think big, and think differently than you do at home and work.  What do you want for yourself?  What is holding you back?  What are those one to two things that are keeping you from getting to that next level?  Take the time to talk to those closest to you or get those fresh ideas down on paper.  You don’t need to do anything with them now, but those insights will be pure gold for when you get home.

Recharge your batteries – recharge your spirit

For me, there is nothing like the energy that you feel when you walk back out on the beach again and hear the crashing of the waves.  The sheer power of the waves smashing against the beach, their meditative sound, and the beauty of the peaceful water elegantly transforming into the break is enough to take my breath away.  Take this time to get that energy back and charge up your reserves!

  • Add fuel to the fire of your ‘why’ – Along with the big picture thinking, being in a place that you love creates a strong foundation of positivity and excitement.  Take advantage of this great environment and reaffirm your ‘why’ by being in tune with that positivity and reviewing your personal vision.  Check in on your progress towards your goals and renew your motivation to either keep your momentum or get back on track.
  • Be Inspired – Wherever you are on vacation, take a look around and be open to inspiration.  More often than not, our best ideas come when we are away from what we consider our normal.  Maybe you are inspired on a run or during a workout, while watching a sun set, walking through nature, skiing the slopes or swimming in the ocean.  Whatever it is, do more of that and open up your mind to what can be!
  • Put things in perspective – I’m sure many of us feel like we are at our best when on vacation – away from the stresses of work and life in general.  Take the time to understand what makes you feel that way. Then let’s find ways to take some of those carefree approaches to life back with you and apply them in your life back home.  The truth is, life doesn’t have to be as serious and high-stress as we make it out to be.  Back in college, I participated in a study abroad to Rome, Italy.  Before that trip I was a monster-sized ball of stress – always thinking about the worst case scenarios and what could go wrong.  After that trip, I felt like a new man – unknowingly I incorporated parts of the slower pace and love of life that I experienced in that new culture – changes I never could have made if I stayed within the confines of my regular day-to-day.  Granted – don’t take it to the extreme like Michael Scott – there can by too much of a good thing, and not everything translates back to your work/home life, but hopefully you get my point.

Not that any of us need incentive or reasons to take a vacation, but hopefully this perspective helps you take better advantage of the new perspective and inspiration that your time away can give you.

Discussion Question:  What vacation or get-a-way location inspires you the most?  Now go plan you next trip there!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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