Fill Your Cup

I can’t believe that most high-achievers refuse to take a REAL vacation, unplug from work, and recharge their batteries.  A recent survey by the executive search firm Korn/Ferry found that only 3% of executives across a range of industries were willing to completely cut themselves off from the office during vacation.

I used to be one of those people afraid to take a real vacation.  As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until age 42 that I took my first two-week vacation in my life.  Why?  Fear and ego.  I was afraid to delegate.  I was anxious I’d miss something important. I would worry that only I could make all the necessary decisions and take care of all the important clients.

So, I’d continue to push myself.  Continue to grind myself down to a stumpy little nub.  Until I finally hit the wall.  And I was no longer good to anyone:  myself, my family, my friends, my staff, clients.

And then I went on my first vacation.  For three weeks I traveled and rested and recharged.  This was the first time in my life that I left my laptop at home and didn’t look at email or answer phone calls or worry about this or that.  I completely unplugged — no business or personal work.  My stress level dropped to near zero.  I was more creative and energetic.  I had fun.  FUN!  For the first time in many years.  Man, I hadn’t had this much fun in a long time…

And guess what happened back at work?  My staff thrived, my clients were exquisitely happy, important decisions were made more creatively than I ever would have, and the list goes on.

In Stephen Covey’s bestselling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he explains that one of the fundamentals of being productive is to take time off to rest.  To exercise.  To go on vacation.  That time is not money.  Because no matter how busy you think you are, if you don’t take quality time off, you won’t have the energy, creativity, and vigor to fulfill your other business and personal priorities in earnest.  Your well-being cup will run dry.

So how do you keep your well-being cup full?  Start slowly.  Start by setting boundaries such as no internet before 8 AM or after 7 PM.  No work on the weekends.  Remove wireless email from your phone — you don’t need it on your phone.  Trust me.  And did you know that every three months there is a fifth week for you to practice taking off for vacation?  March, June, Sept, and December all have a fifth week.  Like the other eight months, get your work done in four weeks and take this fifth week off.  And by take it off, I mean no email, phone calls, business or personal errands, or doing your taxes.  Take it off and rest, travel, read fiction, swim, dance, get a massage, have FUN.

And remember, the Mushin Way is all about creating clarity.  Clarity that leads to decisiveness. Decisiveness that propels you into elegant action to achieve success in all aspects of your life.  And how can you practice the Mushin Waywithout being fully rested, recharged and completely present?  You can’t…

And I promise you, nothing will “break” at work while you are on vacation.  You will return with more energy, clarity, and creativity.  Your business and personal life will thrive.  So what do you do to fill your well-being cup?  When was your last REAL vacation?  A five-week month is right around the corner for you to enjoy — will you?