Most of my get-away weekends this time of the year are at a ski area or some place warm and on the ocean. Those holidays almost always relax me and take my mind away from the stress and strain of everyday professional life. The biggest challenge I have when escaping for a few days is that it is normally only a short stay and getting fully unwound is difficult. That begs the question: ‘Is it worth using up valuable vacation time for short stay trips away from work’?

For those of you who have a set amount of Paid Time Off (PTO) available, you may have answered the question no or yes, depending on many variables you must consider. And everything comes down to priorities. I know people who store up PTO so they never run out in case of a last-minute need to re-prioritize usage. Others burn it with planned and scheduled regular excursions to favorite destinations, visits to relatives or friends who are important to them or simply the weekend trips to the ocean or mountains. Another consideration may be the pressure release that a getaway provides from your local situation whether work or other. Some of you may be able to wait and look forward to planned vacations of at least a full week while some require breaks of greater frequency. At the end of the day it is and should be all about you.  We all function best in life by getting refreshed and recharged from time to time. Burnout can be a major factor for those who don’t take time out to rejuvenate. 

Since this should be all about you, ask yourself this question: ‘Have I changed through the years’? If you have, how you manage stress may also be different. I once did not unwind and become relaxed until Thursday of the first week of vacation. I am old enough so when that was happening, I had no cell phone or computer with me and yet getting chilled was still a several-day process. Lives change; circumstances are different, and you may develop new perspectives or routines for dealing with the weight that responsibility delivers. What you need today versus in years past may have been changed. Shorter stays, though still not ideal for me, are now more refreshing. Time and personal growth have been prime contributors. Working on aspects of life such as setting boundaries have made a big difference for me. Saying no was difficult for me but is becoming more so with intent and repetition.  Knowing I am better in life with healthy boundaries makes it possible for me to leave work and other heavy lifting behind more rapidly. A recent weekend in the wonderful city of Nashville, Tennessee illustrated that. I left all my current stressors behind for two days and had a blast! The friendly people from all around the world, a terrific Toby Mac concert and lots of quality music along Broadway was just what I needed to relax and wear a continuous smile.

If you readily relax and let go of Monday through Friday or other responsibility, good for you! If not, hope remains. Some things to consider include: 

1. You are not 100% in control so let go a bit and see what happens. Try ditching your To Do List and try building a Weekly, followed by a Daily Plan. No, they are not the same as a To Do List if you prioritize and focus only on A or top priorities and leave the B’s and C’s off the list. I never had a list that got shorter, thus never had the satisfaction of achieving what I had determined I should. Ever experienced that? With only necessary goals for the week, you can schedule them into your days and get wins throughout the week. Yes, plans sometimes must change, because life and you do.  Alter your plan and keep moving!

2. Read a book or two on setting boundaries. They will amaze you at the insight they can provide. My favorite is a Henry Cloud and John Townsend publication, Boundaries. The book contains life-changing nuggets.

3. Read a book or two on simplifying life. Bill Hybels wrote my favorite, Simplify. Bill is also a pastor at one of the most famous churches in the world, Willow Creek, in Barrington, Illinois. He is a pragmatist and a godly man and provides powerful suggestions to help unclutter your soul (and life). Since reading this book my life has far fewer distractions and materialism has become a less significant part of who I am. Kudos to Bill!

Whether you get revitalized by taking short breaks or need long stretches of time off, you can help your cause by learning more about yourself so you know what works best for you. And getting refreshed and recharged is not only all about you, but is also all up to you!