Note to Self:

Vacation is great for the mind and body (maybe not so much).

August 11, 2014
I know, in my list of 25 lessons learned time for renewal was prominently featured. I only started practicing it this year, for full disclosure. This past week, for the first time in seven years, I went on vacation and did not once check work email. Well…to be truthful…I was in communication with several members of my team and instructed a handful that I would only be available via personal email and text, as I wanted to stay away from the work email. (I did have to open the work email once to retrieve an email address, but did not read or respond to any emails).

I brought three books and 18 articles to our family vacation. I read the first chapter of two books, fully read eight articles, and skimmed four more. I know, I was very ambitious in what I could accomplish while on vacation. I did write a short journal article, which proved to be more challenging than I anticipated chiefly because I could not focus. Yes, the sand, beautiful Caribbean water, Doc McStuffins, and Adventure Time were distracting. The real distraction was showing up to our island and finding our hotel completely boarded up with no signs of life. Luckily, we did find another hotel where the spotty internet access kept me from doing personal errands like shopping for a new car.

I stacked on nearly 10 pounds and burned my face and back in the Caribbean sun. On the upside, I took my boy out snorkeling and enjoyed mama/daughter time laughing and being silly with my daughter. We found great underwater treasures. We enjoyed some spectacular vistas and ate lots of tasty, unhealthy food. They got to watch TV, which is not allowed at home. They pleaded for vacation not to end and begged that we return next year, but for two weeks! We have never enjoyed a vacation as we did this one. I was almost always fully present!

Now I am back renewed, energized, and focused. My team enjoyed this unusual vacation as well, particularly since I pestered them much less than during my previous/typical vacations. (My assistant once said that she wasn’t sure whether she preferred me on vacation or not. I had too much time to think about things for us to do). Coming back so rejuvenated and with clarity of mind, I asked several members of my team to strongly consider taking a full week off. Having experienced the wonders and benefits of fully disconnecting, I want the same for them. The College will be better off for it! Increased productivity upon their return, focus, energy, and all the other innumerable benefits. Another by-product of my time off is that we will now have walking one-on-one meetings. Weekly direct report meetings will be walking meetings where we talk as we walk outside of the campus. To my surprise, this was immediately embraced with some teammates signing on to my physical fitness challenge. Who knew, this vacation could continue to pay dividends for us all!

Would love to hear your experience on a recent or past vacation.

Reprinted with permission of the author. 



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