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Don’t understate the power of a vacation — taking time to rest and mentally recharge can do absolute wonders. Research suggests people who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life and are more motivated to achieve their goals. A vacation — or even mini vacation — built into each quarter can help reset your business, your team, and yourself up for a more productive, creative and happier life.
Many of us already know this, yet as business leaders, we can often overlook the importance of time off for ourselves and wait beyond the breaking point of when we need it. I understood this, but I don’t think this realization truly hit home for me until a chance encounter on a park bench in Florida.
As I sat guzzling my water, hoping a cloud would pass over the sun, a woman and her two children approached. The daughters asked if it was okay that their mother took a rest on the bench alongside me while they continued on their tour. What happened next made me reflect for weeks and months after the experience. We discussed her trip and how she was enjoying spending time with her family and that it was a short trip but special. A normal conversation, right? Then her next words were, I’m 93. Trying to avoid showing shock and awe on my face, she continued on to share that the day before, she had gone horseback riding on the beach, and that evening, she was going on a sunset sail cruise and — wait for it — tomorrow she was going parasailing, yes, parasailing! Her glowing smile and excitement were infectious.
Related: 3 Types of Vacations That Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur
So it made me think, how can everyone live a life this full, not just once they’re 93, but for their whole life? Why don’t most business people live a life filled with incredible experiences? Not all experiences need large budgets, yet most people fail to have regular, unique experiences. I started asking business people questions about how often they take trips, long weekends, or plan unique experiences. The range of volume of time off in days was vast. However, what was common amongst the majority of them was the lack of planning for building fun experiences into their everyday lives. It was mostly annual or semi-annual.
What I came to realize is we make plenty of time to plan all of our work, our chores, and coordinate children’s schedules, but very little effort is set aside to plan our fun lives. It doesn’t have to be a lavish trip every time or summer in Europe to have the same effect. In fact, I believe it is lots of small experiences that bring the most joy and clarity. Because let’s face it, why do we all work so hard if all we do is more work?
So, after meeting my new 93-year-old best friend, here are five ways to make sure to get the most out of the week, month and quarter to live your best life.
1. Make a list of the things that make you (and your loved ones) the most happy
Start with 10 minutes and write as many ideas that come to the top of your head. There should be nothing left off the list. No matter the budget, the time involved to do it, or how random. No excuses! If you really want to have fun with it, ask your spouse (and if you have children) to do it as well. Some of the answers you may find shocking by the simplicity. Everything from giving to charitable organizations, yoga classes, reading outside, a s’mores party with a snowball fight or traveling for a beach vacation. Need help jogging some inspiration?
- Seasonal activities
- If you could not leave your town to find fun
- The thing that makes your family members the most happy
- Sunny days versus rainy days
- Best childhood memories
- New things to learn (music, language, reading, art, courses…)
2. Rank them
Now you have the list, rank them based on the ones that excite you most (regardless of budget or time).
3. Separate by length of time to complete, short vs. long
Which ones can be done throughout the year versus which ones are time restrictive (require you to block travel or rearrange weekly schedules)? Pick two colors and go through and highlight them short-term versus long-term. By the end, you will have two lists.
Related: Every Entrepreneur Needs These 3 Vacations
4. Understand your budget and bandwidth
Not everyone’s definition of happiness is big-ticket events. That being said, knowing how much time and how much budget you have in a year (and broken down into smaller blocks of time, week, quarter or being able to know you can always combine, say, a budget for two weeks etc.) helps make the goals more attainable and enjoyable without adding more stress. You don’t want your new experiences to have a counter effect and cause more stress and less joy because you’ve overbooked yourself or over budget for what is feasible.
5. Map them to your calendar
Like Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” You don’t want to get to the end of the year and say I work too much, I’m burnt out, I never have time to spend with my family or myself. Pick which cadence makes you the most happy: Is it daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly? Everyone will be different, but the premise is that it’s your life and your happiness, so whatever brings you the most joy! Put placeholders as far out as possible.
6. Set your team up for success
It is noteworthy to say without a great team and infrastructure, none of the above would be possible. Having a strong second in command, defined processes and an incredible team of people working together allows for the ability to truly take a break. Without having those pieces in place, you’ll be more prone to “emergency” calls, problems to troubleshoot and added stress to something that is supposed to be doing the opposite. Remember, these principles for success shouldn’t just be used for business leaders but all teams. Encouraging them to live their best lives and feel fulfilled makes them happy, and well, it’s just the right thing to do! Encourage them to take their time off, truly offline when they are not at work, and if you see them online when they shouldn’t be, tell them to go see some sunlight.
So regardless of age (93-year-olds included), there is no time like the present for making time for yourself, your family, your team and your business. You’ll find yourself more engaged, enlightened, and motivated to do good things in the world.