The start of June is always a signal to me that the fun and sun of summer is upon us. Our vacation is planned, summer camps for my daughter have been paid for and added to the calendar, and the backyard is all set for grilling and outdoor dining. But the most important thing I have in place for the summer is my annual mini-sabbatical. Every year my business partner, Lisa, and I plan our work so that we can each take a month off. It certainly is a wonderful gift to ourselves and one of the perks of being self-employed. In my month off I plan to unwind, focus on myself and my family, appreciate all of the things around me that I sometimes take for granted in the busy, fast-paced day-to-day, and tackle one or two big personal projects that I have neglected.

Anyone who has taken a vacation longer than one week knows how great it is to have two, three, or more weeks away. Often it takes a week just to fully disconnect and really feel like you are away from work, so the extra time truly makes a difference. So, how can you give yourself more space and time for unwinding and refreshing this summer? Can you plan your own extended vacation? What would you do (or not do) during your time off?

If you’re reading this and thinking that you would never be able to take a multi-week vacation let alone a month-long sabbatical this summer, then I challenge you to set a goal to make it happen next summer (or whatever time of the year would be best for you). To get started:

  • Write down all the benefits and payoff of having weeks away from work – benefits to you and benefits to others (family, friends, coworkers, the community).
  • Then write down how you might use the time off – how would you make the most of your extended time off.
  • Now, write down all the things that you believe stand in the way of taking extended time off.
  • For each of those items, write down why it is an obstacle – is it something that is in your control? Are the things you wrote down facts or your beliefs?
  • Compare the two lists – the benefits and outcomes, and the obstacles. What do you notice? What is compelling?
  • Then identify what you can do to overcome any obstacle that is a real challenge.
  • Now list the names of people who can support you in reaching your goal.

There is plenty of research that shows the lasting benefits of downtime. Honing in on what those benefits are for you personally and then acknowledging that you deserve (and have earned) those benefits are both essential to making extended time off a reality. One thing is for sure, I have never heard anyone express regret for taking time off. However, I have definitely heard many express regret for not doing it.

What’s stopping you from taking the time off that you need and deserve?
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