My vacation strategy! I can hear the cries already, “I have to have a strategy for vacation as well? Isn’t a career strategy, a life plan and an investment direction enough?” I’ll say “maybe” but mean “no.”

While I have written much about the value and importance of work, I am a devout believer in taking time away from the office, in fact, away from almost everything. I also subscribe to the idea that if you don’t plan it, someone else will get the long weekends, prime weeks, and extended holiday breaks. And guess who is left holding down the fort?

When I talk about a vacation, I am encouraging you to consider your physical and emotional needs, and wants. In fact, I am asking you to put them ahead of your work and family obligations, just for a moment. For some of us it means time to really rest our minds and bodies with sleep and daydreaming. For others it could be stimulation with a new adventure and for many it’s the chance to be, really be, with the people we love.

Many of us are unaware of how much we give at the office until we take time or it’s too late. I am not talking about the work hours (though they are a factor). I mean being aware of the price, the pound of flesh, we have given over the year. The amount of time we spend focused on the tasks at hand and the people we need to do them with is enormous. Regardless of your rank or years of experience, every job has its tedium and breaking away from it can be refreshing and invigorating. Step back and you realize just how long it’s been since you thought about “nothing much.”

Vacation also provides the opportunity to do the things we love — long open-stretch drives, digging in the dirt, and reading out of our specialty, or playing games. If we haven’t identified the things we love, we are likely not to schedule them and they never happen.

I for one always have a massage when away, must have had 100 massages in thirty different countries. For me it begins the holiday. Sends the message to my brain “relax, let go.” The only way I can count on getting one is to book it in advance of my arrival. Otherwise, I am closed out of appointments or distracted with the activities of the day. I also try very hard not to wear any type of work related clothing, not even that basic white shirt, which supposedly goes anywhere. Again, it sends a message to me that this is different and I am not ready for battle.

I limit my interaction with people, especially people I don’t know or don’t know well. I don’t see vacation time as an opportunity to make friends. Too often the question, “So what do you do?” comes up and the next thing I know I’m hearing about someone’s chronically unemployed brother-in-law or maniacal boss. No thanks. However, I do enjoy travelling with friends, something I have started recently with much success.

Having long stretches of time with people important to me is another story. My family lives all over the United States. While we are often in touch by telephone and e-mail, we don’t have many opportunities to be together around the dinner table, on walks, or in casual conversation. Vacation feeds the need for connection and leaves some of the fondest memories. It also gives me the chance to interact with the younger members of the family who see telephone calls as antiquated and something to be avoided at all costs. I love measuring their growth against the height of waves or to the top of my head (all of them are now taller than I).

So if you were to have a strategy, what might be the components?

  1. Start with fantasy. If money and time was no object, what would you do, where, and when?
  2. Check in with reality and ask yourself what is doable and practical.
  3. Try and get more of #1 and only settle for #2 when you have exhausted the first.
  4. Plan fun, stimulation, and connections in whatever order and quantity you deem best.
  5. Decide to sleep more and probably more often. Test-drive a nap.
  6. Read things that are not a part of your daily repertoire. Avoid the news.
  7. Be with people you like and enjoy.
  8. Engage in activities you loved as a child — Frisbee or body surfing anyone?
  9. Disconnect. Activate your autoresponder and change your voicemail letting people know you are not available. Empower others to take your place. Encourage clients to think for themselves. Accept the fact that most things aren’t really that critical and no one is indispensable.
  10. Focus on taking care of you, having fun, and bringing back a refreshed perspective.

A vacation strategy is a great way to get your needs met. It takes some thought, soul searching, and time, and can prove to be an excellent investment in you.

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.