I have army-crawled toward vacation many times, so mentally and physically depleted that I wasn’t sure I’d cross the threshold before I collapsed from exhaustion. Those were hard starts to time away. They involved at least a couple of days to decompress and to get some semblance of energy back before I could really enjoy my respite. Then there was the anticipatory grief of re-entering “real life,” which cut short my fun on the back end and made me already start pining for my next vacation. This pattern held whether I was in a call I loved or one that made me want to hide under the covers.
Our beach trip three weeks ago was different. Beforehand, I had picked up several new coaching clients that I was eager to get started with. I had some projects I was looking forward to. I was feeling creative in my writing and planning. I was far from depleted. Still, I was glad to listen to crashing waves and spend concentrated time with my family. And I was ready to come back to work afterward.
This easy entry to and exit from time off is what I hope for you so that you can truly enjoy your hard-earned breaks, whether you have a grand adventure planned or intend to hole up at home with a stack of novels. Here are some coaching questions to help you work toward this reality:
- What must be taken care of before your mind can let go of work?
- Which of these tasks belong only to you, and which can others take on?
- How far out from vacation do you need to start tackling your list to give yourself enough time, pacing yourself so that you don’t start your time off in recovery mode?
- How will you give yourself grace if all the to-dos aren’t completed before your break?
- How might you ritualize closing up shop so that your heart and mind grasp that you are on respite?
- How will you acknowledge and then let go of work concerns as they (naturally) come to mind during your time away?
- How can you celebrate the end of your vacation and reorient toward work so that you are ready to get back to it?
- What will help you remember that you don’t have to do all the things on the first day you return to the office?
May your vacations be restful and rejuvenating. The church and world need you – particularly in this cultural and political moment – to be at your best.