In the last year and a half, I bought a home, moved to a new part of town, adopted a crazy puppy, took on new responsibilities at work, joined my HOA board … and didn’t take a single vacation.
When I finally left for a weeklong trip to Hawaii over Thanksgiving break, my shoulders were spring-loaded with tension and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d slept eight hours in a row. (Don’t tell Dr. Oz!)
It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do for your outlook, though, literally and figuratively speaking. Now that I’m back at work, relaxed and slightly sunburned (also something Dr. Oz shouldn’t know about…), I’m feeling more productive, way more clear-headed and a whole lot less grouchy. I don’t mean to get all paradoxical proverby, but sometimes you can get more done at the office by not being at the office.
Which makes me wonder: when was the last time you took a vacation? I don’t think anyone’s excelling at work-life balance these days, what with the rocky economy, increasing workloads and 24/7 email. Or maybe we’ve just always been lousy at it. (Of course, there are gurus who claim they’re experts at balancing the two, but since they’re usually saying that while exhaustively touring the hotel seminar circuit … well, I’m skeptical, to say the least.)
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Life agents may even have it a little harder. Sure, you’ve got a flexible work schedule, but your commission-based livelihood isn’t guaranteed. If I take a break from work, I might risk missing a deadline. If you stop selling, you risk not being able to pay the electric bill. I suspect that makes a few of you think twice about a trip to Disneyland or a ski vay-cay.
Here’s my Zenned-out, freshly vacationed advice to you, though: don’t. In a business where relationships are key, you’re not doing yourself — or your clients — any favors by grumpily toughing it out. If you haven’t had a chance to decompress lately, go order a plane ticket or gas up the car, shut down your email and get out of town. I don’t care if you spend a week in China or a weekend at a motel in the next city over. Just do it.