I received a desperate email that read, “I’m in leadership, working crazy hours, working through my vacation last week instead of resting, and the story goes on.”
The gravitational pull is to always be connected, always available, and always responding- even on vacation. I’ve done it too-taken calls on the beach while the kids swam, squeezed in a few emails before breakfast, dialed into a “quick” call during dinner, returning seven days later, tired and frustrated.
Why do we struggle to step away, trusting that others can and will find their path to good outcomes?
Reminds me of the children’s book, “If You Give A Pig a Pancake” A cautionary tale of saying yes once, the Pig never relents from her requests.
Excerpt from the bookBook by Laura Numeroff
If you give a pig a pancake, she’ll want some syrup to go with it.
Pig: May I please have some syrup?
When she gets all sticky, she’ll want to take a bath.
Pig: May I please have some bubbles and a toy?
When you give her your rubber duck, she’ll feel homesick.
Your working vacation and The Pig
Sticking with our Pig and a pancake analogy, here’s the version of the story you’re familiar with from your most recent holiday break. The new requests are like the Pig-never fully satisfied.
(Sunday night email) If you can join the call on Tuesday morning at 630am, I promise it will be a quick one.
(Monday text) After the call, May I please also receive a written summary and go ahead and put it into a few PPT pages?
(Tuesday email & text) There is an RFP we’re working on that just came in-quick deadline. I would love for you to answer just a few questions on pages 12-28. Do you mind? It would be super helpful-its due before you return from holiday.
(Wednesday email) May I please have only two more hours of your attention, during that family dinner you’d planned, the RFP client has a Q&A-the only time everyone is available. You can make it, right?
-You get the picture. It’s not a vacation. It’s what my friend calls “PTO-Pretend Time Off”.
“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”-Greg McKeown, Essentialism
Here’s my advice for how to enable real rest
In the modern world, rest is vital to replenish the nutrients in our creative engines. Prioritize your rest and recovery. Operationalize your values with better choices. Take responsibility and do your creative best with your own life. In your absence, trust that others will step up and in to solve the challenges of the day.
For your next holiday, borrow my out-of-office auto-responder. Here’s the one I use, (Thanks Well-being thought leader Jen Fisher for the inspiration)
“I will be out of the office on vacation with my family beginning Monday, July 3rd, returning July 17th. I and my devices will be resting, replenishing my creative engine. I look forward to responding upon my return.”Out of Office autoresponder
Recover your life and enable yourself a real rest.
You can do this.