You Need (more than) a Vacation


Hurry Sickness

If you’re a leader, you’re probably busy.

Leaders in the non-profit and corporate world proudly push for mission impact, productivity, and achievement. Busyness is widely seen as a badge of honor and marker of status.

But in the race to constantly maximize our time and impact, we can feel our emotional and spiritual health begin to erode. We become professionally productive and personally unhealthy. 

Too many leaders are haunted by a feeling that they’re always behind. Leadership demands seem unrelenting and there’s never enough time. We get caught in a cycle of responding to the tyranny of the urgent. 

Psychologists have a term for this: hurry sickness.

Sometimes we’re too busy to notice initially, but the sprinting and juggling will catch up with us. Eventually, it’s not just the leader who suffers. Constant sprinting without catching your breath begins to undermine your leadership impact.

I’ll admit it. It’s easy to get caught up in the race. I like the adrenaline of the race. But in running a race, you need to breathe, right? 

Vacation as Medicine

Unplugging from work to take a vacation is one way to take that metaphorical deep breath.

This summer, I took a much needed vacation with my wife and two daughters. 

We found a cabin in the woods with a terrible cell signal and no WiFi. It was glorious. We had a week full of: no-WiFi, no-email, no crisis-problem solving, hot-chocolate-for-breakfast, discovering-new-places-while-hiking, swimming-underneath-waterfalls, forget-the-day-of-the-week, staying-up-past-bedtime, family-bonding-vacation.

It was a “4-out-of-4-family-members-teared-up-because-the-week-was-over” kind of week.

Time away is essential for replenishment. Medicine for the “hurry sick.” Physically, detoxing from the constant adrenaline of busyness is important. Time and space away from the tyranny of the urgent provides us with needed distance and perspective. Attentive, undistracted time invested in our most important relationships is invaluable.

For a busy leader, taking a vacation can feel like escaping from a house that’s on fire. It’s necessary for survival. 

But there’s a big catch….all vacations end, right?

As much as you need a vacation, your time away won’t address core issues.

As much as you need a vacation, you need more than a vacation. Here are at least three reasons why:

1. Vacations End.

As soon as our family got home and pulled into the driveway, I started noticing things. The overwhelming amount of weeds. The wasps in our eave I can’t seem to get rid of. I remembered the leak in our roof. The landscaping project I’ve promised to start for months.

All the things I was too busy or distracted to address before vacation greeted me at the door. 

Then, I checked my email to see what I missed at work…

Taking a vacation didn’t fix my leaky roof or get rid of the wasps. It simply gave me a reprieve from the constant demand of home upkeep.

2. You have to go back to the very things you needed to get away from.

You might be on the path to burnout.

If so, you’re at risk for getting right back on that path after vacation. You don’t want to pick up the same habits and patterns that had consumed you before you left for vacation. Or there might be stressors in your environment that still need to be addressed.

Don’t get me wrong. You need to take a vacation if you are going to maximize your leadership without sacrificing your emotional and spiritual health. There’s plenty of evidence that supports this. 

Stepping away will help you re-engage. Vacation can give you the perspective and replenishment to better deal with the burning house. 

Vacations don’t address core issues. If you are on the path to burnout, taking a vacation is your first step. Your second step is getting the structured support you need after vacation to stay well amidst the busyness of life and work.

3. Structured Support Helps With Re-Entry.

Most of us need to learn a new way of being if we are going to maximize our leadership without sacrificing our emotional and spiritual health. 

The desire to change your behavior is not the same as actually changing your behavior.

To do this, we need structured support.

In my coaching practice, I work with clients to identify underlying core issues that are affecting their leadership impact and well-being.

Together, we identify sources of “the fire in your house” and strategize ways to “put out the fire” or “contain the fire.” 

The goal is to remain healthy and effective while you’re not on vacation.

In coaching lingo: I help leaders strengthen their resilience to sustain their effectiveness without sacrificing their well-being.

How about you? 

What if you didn’t have to sacrifice your well-being in order to be an impactful leader?

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You’ll receive your results within 1-2 business days. Then, we’ll schedule your free 30-minute coaching session. We’ll debrief your results and talk through your situation. We’ll take a solutions-based approach to look for action steps that can help.

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