How do you plan for vacations, breaks, and holidays? The challenges of planning for time away from being completely immersed in creative and business work has been coming up a lot more with my clients over the past few months.
One of the obstacles my clients have been running into with vacation planning is that they really love what they do — or, at least, they love most of what they do. The problem is not so much that they want to take a complete break from their work, but they have an intrinsic drive and need to stay in their creative work. In some ways, complete disengagement is impossible for them, and not because of external commitments and deadlines; it’s impossible for them in the same way that it’s impossible for them to take a break from breathing.
The trick here is that their behavior looks like classic cases of workaholism, and there may be a tinge of that in the mix. But more than that, it’s that most conversations about taking time off have an often-unstated underlying assumption that work is draining, something to be avoided, or something that keeps you from doing what you actually want to be doing. Work is thus considered a distraction or a necessary evil that’s keeping you from the enjoyable or meaningful stuff of life.
Figuring out how to balance doing the creative work that makes you come alive and the vacation activities that also make you come alive is a different challenge from simply figuring out how to get away from work you don’t want to do. It’s even harder when those around you don’t understand the creative impulse and expect that you’ll be as nourished by sitting on a beach for four days as they’ll be. (That you’re having a not-fun conversation about relaxing on a beach during a vacation makes it all the more awkward — who gets upset about how much time they have to spend at a beach? Someone who has an itch to write, code, paint, lead, plan, or record, that’s who.)
Because they really don’t want to be away from their creative work, let alone coming back to a lot of work to be done or having conversations about being “there” during vacations and holidays, many people decide that they’d rather not take a vacation or holiday at all. That decision seems best at the time, but often leads to burnout and strained relationships. Families and friends support what’s important to us; it’s only natural that they would want us to support what’s important to them.
What’s important here is knowing that work/play looks different for everyone. Having an honest look at your interests and energy levels will help you to find a balance between the work you’re driven to do with the non-work experiences that you need to have to recharge, relax, and reconnect with those you love.