The heatwave here in the UK may be over, but holiday season is right upon us. Even if I weren’t a parent, living life by the rhythms of school terms and holidays, I’d know it was holiday season, because almost every conversation I have with clients and contacts at the moment starts with ”I’m so busy right now, because I’ve got to get everything done before I go away”.
Ah yes, your summer holiday: that two-week (if you’re lucky) window you spend the rest of the year looking forward to. That wonderful, relaxing, fun-filled vacation full of laughter and family time that you find so nourishing, so liberating, that every year as you make the most of every second of our last day, you make a vow to yourself that when you get home you’ll do something to improve your work life balance so you can experience some of that holiday feeling all the time, rather than perpetually living a life you need to take a holiday from.
That two fabulous weeks: which every year ends with a bump (and quickly feels like it might as well not have happened) the very next day when you get back to work and find a months’ worth of stuff waiting for you, piled high on your desk.
Holiday, what holiday?!
If you’ve vowed that this year will be different, that this time you really will use your holiday as a springboard to improve your work life balance, or as a turning point to do something about the fact you’re unhappy with your career or where your business is heading, how do you do it?
If you want to create a life you don’t need to take a holiday from, you can start to create that positive change while you’re away, without having to take work with you.
OK, strictly speaking not from your sunbed: This one is actually something to take action on before you even go. Rather than allow work to pile up while you’re away, delegate it. All of it. However twitchy it makes you, force yourself to trust others and to let go of the control for a week or two. If letting go in this way makes you feel really anxious about what might happen (shout out to all those perfectionists here!), do it anyway and see what the result is – you may get a pleasant surprise.
Focussing (and giving yourself permission to focus) wholly on one thing at a time is more productive and allows you to enjoy what you’re doing more fully, whether that’s work or play.
Create a proper boundary on holiday by switching off your email notifications so you’ve got no contact at all with work while you’re away.
If that feels like a stretch (especially if you’re self-employed), ask yourself: what will you look back on in a year’s time as being so critical that it couldn’t have waited for a week or two? If there is genuinely something that important, set up a system to receive information about that and that only while you’re away, and set some boundaries around when you will work while you’re away (early morning over a quiet cup of coffee while you reserve the sunbeds, maybe!?), so you’re free to enjoy as much time as possible with those you’re with.
If you’re unhappy with your work life balance, with your career as a whole, or perhaps your business isn’t heading where you want it to, use the opportunity of some time out and total relaxation to create a vision for what you ideally want, while your brain is relaxed and open and the daily stresses have been left behind.
Forget the apparent practical limits of reality for a while, and do a little dreaming: Imagine the best possible outcome, your ideal for the future. If you could improve your work life balance to the point that you’re living your ideal life, what would that look like? If you could change your job to anything at all, what sort of thing would you be doing?
Write it all down and, even if you can’t work out how to reach it, note down what would need to change to achieve your vision, and then write down everything you can think of that’s stopping you from just making that change. You can deal with the “how” when you come home
Get some real blue-sky thinking going while you’re sunbathing under the actual blue skies, and take some time to get ON your business or work rather than IN it.
Set some new, stretching, exciting goals. Or reflect on what is and isn’t going well, and on your strengths, and think about how you can match your strengths to actions which will help you make improvements to your business when you get home.
Take some reading matter with you (or an audio book) that will inspire you to make changes, to grow and improve – whether it’s a skill you want to learn, a mindset shift you want to make or a change you want to make to the things you do.
Want a recommendation? For a relatively easy read (nobody wants to read a text book on the beach, after all!), try “Happier” by Tal Ben-Shahar, “Mindset” by Carol Dweck , or “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey – all are favourites of mine, and several of my clients have used them as a springboard to some new thinking and taking a different path in their life or career. If you’ve any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments, below, for others to benefit from!
If the opportunity to take some time to think leaves you determined to make some changes, or achieve some goals that seem really big and you’re not sure how or where to start, or even whether it’s really possible, that’s where I come in.
I’m here to help you work out how you can achieve what you want from your career, in your business or with your work life balance, and to help you lift the obstacles that seem firmly rooted in your way.
I’m Jo Lee, the No Stress Success Coach. I coach career professionals and business owners to achieve the personal success they want, to reduce stress and to develop a happy and successful work life balance.
I offer face to face work life balance coaching in Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Birmingham and telephone or online coaching across the UK. If anything in this blog post resonates with you, and you’d like to find out more about how coaching works or what coaching with me might be like, please get in touch for an informal chat or to arrange a free initial consultation.