It’s Summertime!

Summertime – the living’s supposed to be easy, as the song goes. The kids are out of school and it’s a delight to hear them playing outside on summer evenings. They are thrilled to have a break from their routine. So why are adults so afraid to use the vacation time that they’ve earned?  After all, it’s part of their total rewards!

A colleague once shared that when he returned from a two-week African safari his staff told him he could never go away for that period of time again! His boss was okay with it, but his staff wasn’t. They obviously got a taste of what it’s like to be the boss. Yes, we Americans think it's unusual to take a two-week vacation anymore, and that used to be the norm. During his trip, my colleague met Europeans who were taking month(s)-long holidays. Some people don’t use their paid time off because they worry the job won’t be there when they get back or that while they are away, their boss will notice mistakes they’ve made that might have gone unnoticed if they’d been on the job.  How sad is that?

Several years ago, I wrote a passage as I was sitting in the Tulleries Gardens outside the Louvre in Paris. It is a spectacular Monday with bright blue skies and all around me are flowers in bloom.  Children are playing while parents and nannies chat nearby.  I am sitting in a café sipping a coffee.  My mind is clear because I am totally relaxed and I am not focused on the usual “to do” lists that drive my workday at home.  Today I have no deliverables, phone calls to make or book chapters to write—I am free to think and to create.

We all have experiences that feed our souls and open our hearts.  What does it for me is being in a place with beautiful artworks or listening to music.  In Paris, that means spending time on the 5th floor of the Musee d’Orsay with the Impressionists or attending a concert in the stunningly beautiful Sainte Chapell surrounded by the most incredible stained glass windows listening to Vivaldi.  My spirits sore, my mind is free and I am renewed.

I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to take a long vacation to Paris or an African safari! I am suggesting that we all need to step out of our routine and get some rest.  I find I am most creative when I am not tired and not focused on the daily routine.  A weekend away is enough most of the year but from time to time, it is worth it to take a week or two to really unwind.

Rest and rejuvenation go hand in hand for me.  What do you do to unwind?  Are you taking time off to allow your body to rest and your spirit to rejuvenate? Take those vacation days and see what it does for you and your career!

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