Come back in two weeks for our follow up piece about how to get your business to the point where you actually can take a vacation.
As a recent Forbes article by Victor Lipman pointed out, America is becoming the “No Vacation Nation.” So much so, in fact, that 47% of Americans didn’t take all of their vacation time last year. And while the reasons for not taking the time off varied slightly (“too many projects or deadlines,” “decrease the chance for advancement,” and even being pressured not to take one by their manager), the bottom line is, American workers simply aren’t taking time off – but they should be.
The effects of not taking time to recharge can be felt by anyone in the workforce but can be especially hard on entrepreneurs and business owners who tend to put their all in the company they worked hard to build. Taking a vacation is about more than just travel, though. Studies show that our productivity dips after logging long hours for an extended period of time (CNBC), so burning the midnight oil might actually be doing more harm than good in the long run.
There are a countless number of benefits to unplugging and taking a little “me” time every once in a while. Here are a few good reasons why business owners and entrepreneurs should be comfortable taking a vacation.
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Recharging Is Good for Your Brain and Your Body
Working non-stop all the time can really take a toll. In fact, a study at the University College London found that people who worked more than 55 hours per week had a 13% greater risk of heart attack and were 33% more likely to suffer a stroke when compared to those who worked 35-40 hours per week (Harvard Health Publishing). So being overworked is about more than more than just a little-added stress.
Being stuck on “go” for so long can leave you mentally drained as well, which leaves you vulnerable to making mistakes, and zaps your creative energy. Sure, you’re making it through the day-to-day stuff just fine, but are you still finding it easy to come up with exciting new directions for your business? If not, a small break from the grind might just be the thing that gets those juices flowing again so that you can get back to innovating.
And if you’re looking for a reason outside of a good mental charge, studies have shown that spending some time outdoors can improve memory, help ward off depression, and lower blood pressure to name a few. Business Insider recently listed off 12 science-backed reasons to spend more time in nature and, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I need much more convincing.
Unclog Your Thinking Path to Find a New Perspective
Sometimes the best way to gain new insight on a problem or project you’re working on is to disengage and find a new perspective once you’ve had some time away. Not to mention the fact that being away from your business will force you to see it in a new way. A new outlook can show you how the business can operate without you there since by leaving you will have of course left it in some capable hands.
Often you’ll hear that a business owner actually missed working while they were away – and that’s great! That means that you’ll come back into work eager and ready to produce at your full potential. Without the break, you may have been so stuck in the motions you were really not thinking about why you were doing them in the first place. You know what they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder.
You’ll come back with excitement and some new ways of looking at things, and hopefully with a deeper appreciation for the people you’ve chosen to share your journey with. Looking at things from the outside can often help you truly see them, so take a step back every once in a while, and see what kind of perspective you can gain.
Find New Inspiration
You can’t have a new perspective without a wealth of new ideas. Just the mental and physical break alone is likely to open up your channels for inspiration, but add in the change of scenery and routine and you’re likely to find some killer insight that may have previously been blocked out by stagnation.
Staying in the same setting for too long can have a surprisingly negative impact on thinking. In fact, pretty high up on Inc.’s list of 25 ways for entrepreneurs to find inspiration is to find new surroundings. It’s been shown to boost creativity and increase productivity, and not stepping away every once in a while can have an adverse effect. You fall easily into a routine, your blinders go up, and you sort of just go through the motions.
Out on vacation, you may meet someone whose conversation sparks a great new idea, you may see a new way of doing things that you may never have thought of before, or maybe you’ll simply come back to work and be able to see things through a new lens. All of these outcomes would be great, but you won’t have any such opportunities behind your desk every day of the year.
If your business is at a point where you feel like it couldn’t possibly run without you, consider reevaluating a bit to find out what it needs to get there (and check out our next blog post for some tips on how to do just that!). You won’t be able to sustain at 100% the entire time your business is running, so why not start figuring out how to get it to a place where it could stand on its own to legs for a while without you?
The evidence for the benefits of vacation is quite convincing, and at the end of the day, stepping away from the job every now and then will pay off in the long run. So book that cruise, plan that week-long hiking trip in the mountains, or even take a long, relaxing weekend with the family. Close your laptop, turn your phone on silent, and go find out what a little time off has to offer for you.