Growing up, the words “summer vacation” always sparked a rush of excitement. Three months away from the classroom! I always looked forward to having time to sleep in, hang out with friends and, hopefully, have an adventure or two. My guess is, you felt the same way. It wasn’t that I hated school, it was just nice to have a break from my routine. Summer vacation was always a time to recharge, to relax, and to try new things or go new places.
Summer vacation was also a time to consider what was next. In grade school, I remember there was much to-do over the announcement of our homeroom teachers for the following year. Which class would we be in? What did the next year have in store? I attended a small Catholic school, which meant that the class lists were always posted at church on the Sunday before school started.
I’d spend the next week imaging what my year would look like. I’d talk to friends about who was in my class, and hypothesize about the new and unfamiliar names on the list and who our
new classmates might be. It was a week filled with anticipation, a few nerves, and a lot of excitement.
As adults, most of us don’t get the kind of summer vacation we got when we were students. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t still use the summer season as a time to refresh, recharge, and plan for what’s next.
Trading in Summer Vacation for a Refreshing Break
Throughout June and July, The Thin Difference team considered what summer vacation means now that we’re professionals. Jon made a few observations and asked the team to use them as a jumping-off point for our posts this summer. Here’s what he had to say:
Summertime inspires us to refresh in some way. Vacation is a big way, and a very important one, but other breaks also create refreshing moments – day trips, staycations, etc.
What role do these refreshing breaks play in your life? What has worked or has not worked? How do you keep feeling refreshed throughout the year?
In response, the Thin Difference team chimed in with a few helpful thoughts. We offered suggestions to refresh and recharge when you find yourself “working for the weekend” without a summer vacation in sight. We shared tips to convince yourself to go ahead and take that vacation even if you believe your company can’t handle your temporary absence. We even posted a simple formula to create margin and refresh throughout the year.
To continue the conversation, we reached out to several members of the Thin Difference community and asked them to share their thoughts on the same topic. We’re thrilled with the insights they sent back.
Sara Dougherty, Millennial Writer
Summertime is when most of us travel and go outside. The warmer weather invites us to ride in the car with windows down, socialize with loved ones over a glowing fire, and finally take leave from work to spend time doing what we love. Trading our desk chairs for kayaks and our computer screens for sunsets; we are engaging in leisure. As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), it is my job to help people develop a healthy leisure lifestyle that improves quality of life, prevents burnout, and increases productivity in all areas of life. Believe it or not, our world has become so work oriented that there is now a job market designed to remind and teach people that life beyond work is important too.
The truth is, leisure doesn’t have to be expensive or something we wait for once we have saved up enough vacation days. It can be as simple as reading a book in your favorite sweatpants or going for a walk with a coworker on your lunch break. It is imperative that we find ways to constantly recharge and refresh. As the summer months fade and the weather becomes less inviting, I challenge you to tire out your refresh button; to make leisure part of your routine. As for me, nothing is more refreshing than a hike up a mountain, a swing in a hammock, a good laugh with friends, or the smell of a new book. Find what refreshes you and do it as much as possible.
Lukas Pesa, Writer and Host of #millennialED
One of my most eye-opening experiences was my journey to Italy. Beyond the obvious cultural beauty, there is a unique charm to seeing what the world looks like from a different angle. I was exposed to a new language, way of life and overall atmosphere.
Seeing the world through a different lens helped me discover some important things I want in my life. Sometimes growing accustomed to familiar surroundings can lead to a one-dimensional approach to life, but being exposed to new scents, sights and sounds exercises new muscles in your mind that can lead you to incredible self-discovery.
Discovering a sense of what you want from life is the most precious souvenir you attain when you travel. You learn to appreciate the things that matter most. The constant refreshment comes from the new mindset and wisdom you take back with you. The pieces you collect from all the places you travel to eventually build the person you become.
So enjoy your travels. You will encounter many people; you may even encounter yourself.
Hannah Becker, Marketing and PR Consultant
Taking much-needed breaks isn’t something that comes natural to me – I have to schedule them. I recently added midday workouts to my calendar. Breaking up the workday with leisurely bike ride or inspirational yoga sesh has become a lifesaver in my busy work schedule. Planning regular “staycations” that involve exploring local historic sites or kayaking in nearby state parks has also been extremely helpful, especially as my business went through a recent (and expensive!) growth period. While most travelers may think exotic destinations like Cancun and the Bahamas when they hear the word “vacation”, I’ve found many less-frequented domestic destinations to be extremely refreshing. Living in Midwest, I’m fortunate to be located relatively close to both the Ozark and Rocky Mountains. Booking short overnighters to these scenic destinations, especially during off-season times, has been extremely rejuvenating.
Wes Gay, Writer and Consultant
Several years ago, I read a book that changed my perspective on productivity. The main point of the book is that we must learn to manage our energy daily in order to avoid burnout longterm.
We think the summer is when we use our 2 weeks of vacation to go to the beach or our favorite theme park in order to rest and recharge.
Yet during the remaining 50 weeks we struggle to maintain our energy. Instead of waiting for a week or two at the beach in June, learn to manage your energy daily. Figure out what little things cause your mind to slow down and recharge.
When I need to stop, I make coffee. Hand grinder, scale, gooseneck kettle, and Chemex. The process slows me down, and the result of the work is delicious.
Yes, I rest regularly with caffeine. Find what works for you, and your daily productivity will thank you.
Sharon Reed, Founder of Global Girls Project
Refreshing breaks not only offer me the chance to reconnect with my center, but to gain fresh new perspectives, too. For me, it is not about how far I go, how long I’m away, or specifically what I do. Rather, it’s about taking time to explore new places, open myself to new experiences, and truly disconnect from work and other responsibilities, however briefly, to reconnect with the essence of who I am.
Certainly vacations can be relaxing and/or stimulating, but sometimes the best breaks are as simple as taking a quiet walk at dawn each morning, pausing long enough to absorb the sounds and smells that surround me. These pauses allow me to reflect more deeply on matters and are often the source of creative inspiration. Other times, a break may mean taking a few minutes out of my day to connect and engage with someone new in my community, write in my journal, or indulge in a favorite book.
David Grossman, CEO of The Grossman Group
Summer is here, and that well-deserved time off is waiting for you. But will you take it? If you do, will you end up setting up your office on the beach, busily answering emails and phone calls while your family clamors for your attention?
Might you be open to an email-free vacation?
I know how many of you feel. I used to check emails and do business on vacation. Yet over time, I started paying more attention to the research on the value of vacations. I started thinking that a real vacation could actually impact my work in a far more positive way than I might have suspected.
So, a few years ago, I gave it a shot. I took a vacation and disconnected from email. I couldn’t believe how liberating it felt. While I understand not everyone can totally disconnect from email, it can be helpful to think about how to better disconnect.
Now, I disconnect from email on every vacation, including “staycations.” I come back to work refreshed and energized, and even more committed to doing great work for our clients.
Want to give it a try?