TDW #028: How to Unlock Your Inner Genius by Taking Time Off
It's simple: Your business can grow and make more money, but if you're miserable on the inside, it's not worth it.
I wrote this after a much needed vacation to Maui, our favorite place on the planet. My agency had just passed the 7-figure mark, but I was feeling miserable inside. No one knew that at the time. So read this as a cautionary tale.
We weren't created to work 24/7/365, even if we love what we do. We need breaks, daily and extended breaks (aka vacations). Here are 10 benefits from taking an extended break (and make sure to catch the action step at the end).
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10: You see how much sleep you actually need.
I had absolutely ZERO obligations on vacation, which meant I could go to bed and get up whenever I wanted to.
Not counting the day immediately after travel, I averaged about 9 hours of sleep each night. Normally I get 6-7 hours of sleep. The simple math tells me my body needs and prefers more sleep.
A few observable benefits from more sleep: I did not get tired during the day once, my mood was much more stable, and I just felt better.
Some of this may have just been because I was on vacation. But I was definitely sleep-deprived prior to leaving and plan on adjusting my schedule to get more rest.
9: You see what's actually important to you.
There were certain questions, thoughts, and ideas my mind kept coming back to in Hawaii.
No prompting. No cajoling. No conjuring or posturing. Just a natural drift.
Those thoughts are signals to hearing what's really important to you. Not what the "gurus" say. Your clients. The trends or the news. But YOU. It's hearing your voice and listening to what you actually care about.
8: It gives you the freedom to not be as important as you think.
I told my team before I left, "if there's an emergency or you need some help while I'm gone, just text me."
Guess how many texts I got? Yup. ZERO.
Some of this was good planning. But most of it was due to not being as important as I think I am. This is a good thing. The truest part of me is grateful to not be as vital as my ego would want me to be.
Even if you don't have a team, you can tell your clients, "Hey, I'm gonna be gone and I'm unreachable and we'll fix anything that breaks when I get back."
They'll respect you for it and you'll see, just like I did, the world will keep spinning even when you're out.
7: Experiences are worth paying for.
For most of my vacation, I sat on a beach with my wife, ate (and drank) yummy things, and read books. It was absolutely incredible.
But there were a few excursions we paid a premium for and would do it all over again if given the chance.
We rented a car I wanted to drive, not just the cheapest option. The views provided were worth more to my soul than any dollar amount we paid.
We got massages by the beach. Massages. Beach. Ya see??
We spent more on a single meal than all of our monthly utilities combined. It cost less to heat our house during November, December, and January than what we paid for that meal.
But I would do it again. The memories, laughs, and look on my wife's face after eating foie gras for the first time was priceless (she hated it, btw).
Not everything in life is about "getting a good deal". Sometimes spending the money is the right thing to do because it brings you joy and fulfillment and breathes life into your weary bones. Learn how to pay full price for everything.
6: You don't need to document everything.
Sometimes the best place for your fancy phone camera is right inside of your pocket. Or, better yet, leave it back in the hotel room. Give yourself a break and put the phone away once in awhile.
5: It gives you compassion for others.
I saw two "clashes" between locals and tourists when in Hawaii.
On one hand, tourism fuels the local economy and gives jobs to many of the locals. On the other hand, tourists don't always have the same connection (or respect) for the surroundings that natives do.
This causes friction.
As a tourist, obviously I understand the desire to travel to places much different than my home. But when you look at tourism through the eyes of someone local to the area, you understand why they get upset. I feel the same way when someone drives too slow down my street. "Move it along!" I say to them in my mind.
The solution isn't to stop traveling to new areas. The solution is to say, "if this were MY city, how would I want people to treat it?"
4: It forces you to be focus on what's important, not urgent.
This was probably the biggest theme from getting away. When you get perspective, you can finally see what matters and what doesn't. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in your myopic vision of the world, you can't see what you actually need to be doing.
Hear me: THIS WILL NOT CHANGE BY ITSELF. You need to get perspective, one way or another, to see.
3: It realigns your priorities.
When you get perspective, your priorities can easily fall in-line behind it.
Here’s what I mean: We were sitting on the beach one morning and the nuclear bomb sirens went off. Yeah, you read that right. Turns out Hawaii began testing their nuclear warning system after some of their nearest neighbors started testing the reach of their intercontinental missiles.
But for a good 30 seconds, no one on the beach knew it was a test. It was just enough siren to legitimately terrify everyone (including me).
I'm grateful for those moments because it forced me to think about what's important (building something that will be here when I'm old). And what's not (color of the office furniture).
You don't need the threat of nuclear war to achieve this, though. Getting away for a week or two will help you do the same thing.
2: It helps you edit your life in suspended animation.
Vacation allows you to see things as they are and not as you want them to be. You can Zach-Morris-Time-Out your life. Walk around from different angles. See what makes sense. What doesn't. Then build a plan for how things need to change when you "reanimate" your life after the time out ends.
For instance, I spent virtually ZERO time on my phone or iPad while I was away. Not only did I NOT miss it, I saw, maybe for the first time, how I've allowed technology to cripple me. Very simple edit to make.
1: It helps you connect with your spirit.
You don't have to be spiritual to know that there's something else to being human besides bone and flesh. Your spirit, your gut, your intuition — whatever you call it. It’s the stuff inside of you that makes you YOU.
Getting outside of your day-to-day allows you to connect with that part of you that sometimes gets buried under to-do lists and meetings.
If I'm being honest, I didn't realize how burned out I was before going on vacation. It took removing myself from the everyday grind to hear the still, small voice inside say, "Justin, my dear, you needed some rest."
I am dead serious about this: plan a vacation for yourself some time in the next 12 months. Get out your calendar, right now, and block off 2 weeks for a vacation. If you need to go 18 months out, that's fine. Just GET. IT. ON. THE. CALENDAR or you will squirm your way out of it. You need to rest before you can run.
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