What if the best career strategy you could put in place right now was to plan—and take—your next vacation?
Sounds crazy, right?
I mean, how can taking time off possibly help grow your career? Haven’t you and I learned that the only way to career success is to work harder, stay focused, and not take too many breaks?
Well, we’ve learned it wrong.
Here are three reasons to take a vacation. All of them are part of a successful, red cape-worthy career strategy you can put in place today
Three Reasons to Take a Vacation as a Career Strategy
Reason #1: You’re feeling stuck.
Here at RedCapeRevolution.com, we should feel grateful for stuckness.
But being stuck sucks.
I don’t want it for me, and I certainly don’t want it for you.
A vacation—or even just a few hours out of your normal routine—can help you get perspective on the sticking point.
Time off helps you start generating new solutions you would never have seen had you continued to stay close to the stuck place.
And while the universe may not reveal itself to you during your vacation and automagically erase the stuckness from your life, taking a break can also help you feel less stuck.
It’ll make you remember—and appreciate—the things in your life that aren’t stuck.
For example, in my conversations with clients, I notice that stuckness often takes a disproportionate amount of space in our minds.
It crowds out recognition of other things that are flowing in the right direction, like our families, health, relationships, or even specific successes that we’re just not seeing when we spend all our time mulling over where we’re stuck.
So if you’re struggling with being stuck, get your time off booked. You’ll never know what might come unstuck if you don’t.
My latest book, “Red Cape Rescue: Save Your Career Without Leaving Your Job” is a great way to get unstuck and start taking back control over your career once more. Find it at your favorite online bookseller here.
Reason #2: Your brain operates better when it’s not always on.
When I was just a young pup at a large management consulting firm, I talked to a very accomplished leader who’d just returned from six weeks off as part of the firm’s sabbatical program.
I remember the conversation sounding something like this:
“I’ve never been an advocate for splash,” he said, referring to the firm’s fun name for the extended time-off program. “I thought it’d take me too far out of the swing of things; that I’d get stale.”
“But I was shocked at how valuable it’s been to me.
At first, I thought about nothing work-related. And that was new to me.”
[I had worked on one of this leader’s teams; he was intense.]
“Later, even when I wasn’t thinking about work, I realized I’d started thinking differently about a few of the problems we’ve been facing over and over.
“Now that I’m back, I feel like I’ve made more real progress in three days than in the three weeks I scrambled before getting out of town.
I’m already planning my next break.”
What that leader had unintentionally discovered those many years ago was a neuroscience principle that’s getting more and more attention today: that rest is the secret sauce to great productivity.
I’m a fan of author/researcher Tony Schwartz, whose work has focused on why building rest into our work routines is essential for success.
Schwartz’s key premise is that we need to understand human physiology–that we are not built to operate like a computer, 24/7. We’re built to sprint, then rest; then sprint, and rest.
Our bodies (including that most important bodily organ, the brain) need that natural rhythm of up and down in order to not break down.
Staying in “on” mode all the time is killing us. Literally.
But even more important than the science is the common sense of it all. You know your brain needs a break. Why won’t you give it one?
If your heart was beating too fast after an extreme workout, you’d let it recover. If your legs ached after taking the stairs one too many times, you’d prop them up and give ’em a rub.
Doesn’t your brain deserve the same support?
Reason #3: Someone you love needs attention.
Is someone missing you?
Maybe even someone who’s living in the same house with you?
(If anyone’s ever implored you to put down the phone, drop the gaming console or turn off the TV, that’s a sign they want more of you.)
Are you missing someone, or missing out on how someone important to you is thinking, doing, growing, wanting?
If so, a vacation is a great opportunity to attend to those relationships.
Our relationships are often at the heart of having a successful career strategy. If life’s not working well at home, chances are it’s not smooth at work, either.
When we’re not paying attention to our key relationships, everything suffers.
Of course, the relationship that may need attention most might be the one you have with yourself.
Taking yourself on vacation could be the break you need to have the breakthrough you want.
How about you? Are your out-of-office days marked on your calendar?
Or will you be one of the many who never take a vacation from work this year?
Sadly, The Center for Economic and Policy Research showed that 25% of Americans take no vacation at all.
No wonder so many of us are cranky about our careers.
That doesn’t have to be you.
Get out your calendar now, and schedule the smartest career strategy move you may make all year.