I was so frustrated with Christina for not putting something back somewhere that I now don’t remember. I said, “I need to go for a paddle.”
I walked out of the cabin and carried my paddle board down to the beach. I latched the black strap to my ankle and headed out. The sun was setting and the sky had hews of purple, pink, and light blue. I left the one bedroom cabin behind. We were in the Les Cheneaux Islands off the coast of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a few miles from Canada.
It’s a string of 36 islands along the coast of Lake Huron. The water was flat until a few fishing boats slowly went by. I kept thinking about why I cared so much about things being put back in the “right” spots. It was because it made vacation easier, less stressful.
But actually, my stress about stress was worse stress than the actual stress.
When I returned, I apologized.
Why we need vacations
We all know we need a vacation, but why do we actually need it? Some of the greatest thinkers of our time knew that slowing down was essential to making an impact. Winston Churchill had a non-negotiable afternoon nap. Steve Job would often do walking meetings, because it changed oxygen intake and blood pressure, people could think clearer. In Timothy Ferriss’ new book, Tribe of Mentors, he found that most CEOs meditate.
Our best ideas come when we slow down. But beyond that, our bodies need it. We need the clarity. If we don’t spend time reconnecting with the basics of being human: shelter, food, time in nature, and community, we are not the best healers that we can be!
The Monkey Mind of Vacation
I recently took off two and a half weeks. The first portion was for the National Cherry Festival, so it was wild. Parades, amusement rides, and time with friends. But it wasn’t really slowing down. The week after that, we went north, to the cabin on the water.
In the first few days of vacation, I felt like I had a number of things to wrap up. I had tried to tie up each task, but there were a few things to do before “vacation mode.” Also, I had systems in place (Emily to respond to emails, Sam and Sam to work on Slow Down School, and automations I have created for email series).
But, ideas and thoughts about business are bound to jump in, that’s why I needed a few systems to help me genuinely relax. Here are some tips I found useful to actually get into “vacation mode.”
Before the Vacation
Before vacation I let my highest paying consulting clients know I was leaving. I stressed the importance of taking time away and how they should too. I indicated that for the first week I’d have some time for quick texts but that the second week I’d be off the grid.
Also, I set up as many systems (that I mentioned before) through my assistants. Also, I created a block out time for the Tuesday I return, called “Joe’s Back list.”
The “Joe’s Back List” is just a time in my schedule for my assistant to put items. This might be an email that I should address first, items to order, or other things that only I can do.
When returning from vacation I could just jump into all the emails or start with the most important.
Boundaries for Vacation
Here are a few things that help me get into vacation mode quicker.
Don’t Work on Vacation
It’s really hard to relax when you are thinking about work. Don’t check email, social media, or other things. If you must, leave your phone and computer at the place you’re staying while at the beach or chilling. Or block your email and social media with a a screen time limiter like the Guided Access feature on iPhones.
Bring a Book on Vacation, but Not a Business Book.
Bring something you normally don’t read. For me it’s books like Origins by Dan Brown or How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. These are just fun escape books. For people with active minds like you and me, you’ve got to stimulate your mind is a different way or you’ll just go back to business thinking.
Plan Things to Do on Vacation
It might be sitting on the beach for three hours, walking into town, or going for a boat ride. When you plan things it makes it harder to spend time thinking about your practice.
Do something for yourself
For me, I started a seven day meditation training so I could focus on my own growth.
Do Something for Your Relationships
A vacation helps you to reset, but only if you actually reset. When you restart you computer, you don;t leave one program running, you shut the whole thing down. So first, understand why you need time off, next set up systems to make sure things keep moving forward without you, and then set some boundaries.
Joe Sanok is a private practice consultant that started the conference Slow Down School. He has the #1 podcast for private practice, The Practice of the Practice podcast.