Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 5, Issue 10;   March 9, 2005:

Planning Your Getaway

by

For many of us, taking a vacation can be a burden. We ask ourselves, "How can I get away now?" And sometimes we have the answer: "I can't." How can we feel relaxed about taking time off?
Kayakers enjoy exploring Apostle Islands' sea caves on calm Lake Superior

Kayakers enjoy exploring Apostle Islands' sea caves on calm Lake Superior. Phot courtesy U.S. National Park Service.

Unless your company has a vacation shutdown, you might experience some difficulty in getting away. Work might seem to have an invisible chain linking you to your desk — keeping you from taking two weeks in the sun or even touring your hometown. What can you do to break that chain?

Walk before you run
For anything that we find difficult to do, practicing on something easier is a great strategy. If taking a couple of weeks off is difficult, practice first with something smaller.
Take an afternoon off. Maybe you have a reserve of "personal days" to draw from. But if you don't, here's something even easier: next time you're sick, actually take a sick day. Or a sick afternoon.
Start planning way early
Start planning about six months ahead of your target vacation date. If you want to take time off in August, start planning in March.
Compared to what you normally do, a vacation isn't all that complicated, so why does it take six months to plan your vacation? It doesn't. You don't use the time for planning your vacation — you use it for planning your work. Sequence things — or schedule your vacation — so that crunches are unlikely in the month before you leave.
If politics is a factor, align with Power
Work can seem to be
an invisible chain
tying you to your desk
Not much will happen while Power is away on vacation. At least, nothing permanent. Oh, you might miss out on a chance to be the designated stand-in, but your boss will have arranged things so that nothing important will happen during that period anyway.
Timing your vacation to occur either during or just before your boss's vacation will help you feel better about your absence.
Tell the ones you love
Say out loud to those you love that you want to take a vacation, and then work out the dates with them.
This agreement locks you in. Backing out becomes much more difficult, not only because of their reactions, but also because you won't want to disappoint them. An explicit, open commitment is the key to balancing your priorities.
Reframe
For some of us, part of the difficulty in getting away traces to an unrealistic assessment of our own importance. In the actual scale of things, most of us can easily go missing for short periods without affecting normal operations.
Everyone else at work already knows this about you. Your only task is accepting it yourself.

Finally, I'd suggest that when you do go on vacation, you leave your cell phone behind, but I'm guessing that you'll just ignore that idea. So instead, promise yourself that you won't respond to text or voice messages from work. Few of us are so important that taking a few days off would affect the expansion rate of the Universe. Go to top Top  Next issue: Recovering Time: II  Next Issue

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