Every year, I go away for a few days on January 1st in an effort to refresh following the hectic holiday season. Having had enough of winter by January, I usually head south and spend three or four days with friends and family in Florida. But this year, I took a very different approach. Instead of four days in the Sunshine state, I headed overseas for 8 days. I spent the first four in Vienna, Austria, and the second four in Budapest, Hungary. It was a fantastic trip and I returned refreshed in a different way.
Here are three of the lessons I learned during my great escape.
1. Make the Time
I’m sorry to say, this is not a skill I’ve developed very well. The last true vacation I took (meaning more than a long weekend without answering emails and doing legal work) was more than 9 years ago. I cringe at the thought but it’s true. It always seems so hard to get away—there is always so much to do and never enough time. But the idea of work-life balance is that you are supposed to have a life. Vacation (i.e., a time free of work), is part of that balance.
2. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Instead of my standard trip south, I chose, instead, to go somewhere entirely different. To two cities I’ve never seen in two countries I’ve never visited. The perspective gained from stepping out of your comfort zone is well worth the initial anxiety about not speaking the language or knowing your way around. Plus, as the saying goes, “nothing risked, nothing gained.”
Challenge yourself and your employees to try new things if you want to promote growth and development.
3. Embrace Independence
My traveling companion had to back out of the trip at the last minute, letting me know about six days before our scheduled departure. As you may expect, I was not exactly thrilled about the change. It’s easier to travel with a companion and I worried that I wouldn’t be up to the challenge of traveling abroad by myself.
I mentioned the change to a friend, who responded, “So go by yourself—you’re sociable!” And right he is! So I took his advice and went by myself.
And I am so glad that I did. It was great to choose my agenda each day based only on what I wanted to do and to see. Would it have been fun with someone to share the adventure? Definitely. But sometimes it’s important to accomplish something on our own.
Teamwork is important but don’t underestimate the value of the solo experience. Being a “party of one” has its benefits.