*Post by Julie Pierce*
This post is for all of you high-achievers out there. You pride yourself in being available 24/7 and think every text is like your own personal Bat-signal pleading for you to come to the rescue and save the city. Not taking time off is like a badge of honor you wear with pride. You’ll take a long vacation in Heaven, or maybe after your big project gets launched.
Just a word from experience for the high-achievers: what you contribute is valuable, but you are not the savior of the organization. You do not need to prove your worth and value by working non-stop. Your strength and energy and leadership have limits. Your true identity is not found in what you do for your job, or even for God, but in Christ.
This post is also for those of you who feel more overwhelmed at the idea of leaving your office than at the endless hours you spend there. You think it’s impossible to take one day off, much less all those vacation days your company gives you. You think you would be burdening others or somehow showing a lack of competence if you let them handle your responsibilities for a few days.
My word of experience for the overwhelmed: the work you do is important, but the to-do list will never be completely checked off. There will always be another email to answer, another project on the horizon, another person wanting your input. You don’t need to prove your dedication. You will not be abandoning your team by stepping away for a day or two.
As leaders, extended time away from our work brings much needed replenishment and joy. In her article titled “Should Leaders Go On Vacation?”, author and Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter had this to say,
“Is there a connection between vacations and creativity, vacations and health? I think so. Pauses refresh. Everyone needs down-time to renew, reenergize, and re-bond with family. Time away while accumulating new experiences can stimulate imagination and support innovation. In short, making the link between time off and time on can be broadly beneficial.”
Obviously, when taking your vacation days you will: plan ahead, be sensitive to the timing of major initiatives in your workplace, request approval from your boss with plenty of notice, tie-up loose ends for your colleagues, and change your voicemail and email auto response. You will also set up the appropriate boundaries needed with your co-workers and clients so that you aren’t just working from another location but are truly experiencing a break from your work.
My challenge for all of us: try and use every vacation day you have this year. Use an afternoon for a long nap or a matinee, a day to hang out with a friend, or a week to go to the beach. Your body, mind, and soul will be better for it. And so will your leadership.
Questions for reflection:
Do you find it hard to take time off?
What do you think is really behind your hesitation?