I am in the midst of my annual “working” vacation. For the past six summers, I’ve brought my daughters to visit my parents for a week or longer, with the understanding that I’ll work while we’re away.
In the early years, balancing work with vacation on these trips happened easily. I spent time writing at Starbucks while the girls had a fun activity with my parents, or I worked during afternoon down-time while the girls watched a movie.
As my work life has become more demanding, the balancing has become significantly more challenging, to the point that I think the usefulness of working vacation in my life has ended.
I can take a trip with the agreement that I am working while my family is vacationing. Or I can take a vacation.
The idea of a working vacation is a flimsy way of excusing my choice to stay connected. By saying I am taking a working vacation, I allow an unhealthy slide from the intended outcome of taking a break to business as usual.
A working vacation can become boundary-less and counterproductive.
Will I feel refreshed when I return? Not if I never disconnect and unplug.
Can I take a vacation from leading my team?
If I take a true vacation, I am leading my team with a healthy example and freedom to disconnect fully during breaks from work.
Or if I tell my team I am on vacation and fail to fully unplug, I am leading them down a detrimental path.
My lack of boundaries teaches others to bend their boundaries.
When I repeatedly show up to phone meetings with my team, send/
respond to their email, and participate fully in our Facebook group conversation threads when I am supposed to be on vacation, I may be leading them to believe I expect them to make the same choices.
I am setting an example, and not one I want anyone to emulate.
I cannot take a vacation from leading, but I can take a vacation.
Although I am not sure how I will make next year different, I want to lead myself, my family, and my team more effectively. I am convinced that I will be able to do so far more effectively when I incorporate the disciple of true rest and a (not-working-at-all) vacation.