• Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

What a Vacation Will Teach You

I recently returned from a 7 day trip to the Bahamas. Growing up in Florida and now living in a landlocked suburb of Dallas, I often feel like I need to get my feet in the sand. For those of you who have been to the Bahamas, you know that I have just returned from a week in paradise. It got me thinking that I need to be in a beautiful place like that more often. In Working in the Smart Zone, I use a quote. "Go where you feel most like yourself." I know that I feel most like myself when my feet are in the sand and I can hear and smell the ocean.

Here are 5 things that I know for sure after my week in the Bahamas:

  1. People who are consistent in their personal lives and in their business lives live the best lives. My family was given the opportunity to spend time on the south side of the island with our good friends the Clines. William Cline is a consulting executive who has spent the last 19 years in the Bahamas working for Stuart Cove, the owner of the third largest dive shop in the world. If you have been watching Discovery Channel's Shark Week, you have seen Stuart's staff and location in more than a few episodes. With up close and personal contact with Stuart and his family I couldn't help but be in awe of their business ethics, their daily management, and their inspirational personalities. The Clines and the Stuarts are successful business owners who understand the Smart Zone Secret. They live it, breathe it, and they are teaching it to their own children. Click here to learn more about the Smart Zone.

  2. Vacation time shouldn’t be overscheduled. It is just a fact that most people spend time on vacation trying to do it all. While we planned 3 days and 2 nights at Atlantis, we whittled that side trip down so we could have more "sandy shoes time" on the beautiful beach at the condo where we stayed.

  • Sometimes it is more fun to just relax. I don't know about you but most of the time it is hard for me to relax on vacation. I have so many thoughts in my head about business, daily life, the next project, and the tasks of being a business owner and a parent that it gets noisy in my head. People know me to be an information sponge. Sitting in a beach chair, no iPod in my ears, no book in my hands, and no laptop on my knees, I know I can get a lot accomplished in the creative side of my brain. Just getting some white space between my ears is so rewarding. I know my staff appreciates when I go on vacation since the noise in my head can sometimes come out of my mouth with a vengeance. When I come back from vacation, the noise in my head is a lot more controlled.

  • Be with people you enjoy. We have always enjoyed the Clines. Our boys go to school together and our values are very much the same. After 8 days together, we still love each other. During those 8 days, they also performed an unplanned "intervention" with me as I continue to steer my consulting and clinical businesses forward. While they are my friends, they also possess expertise in human resources and consulting (http://www.williamcline.com/). Their intervention worked. I have some changes ahead that will help me continue to maintain better balance in my professional and personal life.

  • Set up systems so your customers and your business can thrive in your absence. The Bahamian Gods did a number on my computer while I was there. Funny thing, I could get every email sent to me but I couldn't email out. No, that wasn't part of the intervention. While I would have only written emails once a day, when it was least intrusive for our vacation, I quickly learned to enjoy seeing the emails showing a stream of productivity while my hands were tied and I was unable to intervene. With systems in place, you can get the time you need to enjoy being off duty. It really is a beautiful thing.

I have made a few more promises to myself. First, we are definitely going back to the Bahamas if the Clines will still have us. Second, I need to go where I feel most like myself more often. Third, my creativity and leadership skills soar when I give myself the downtime. Go where you feel most like yourself, even if it isn't in the Bahamas.