Even leaders need a vacation

May 6, 2020

Philippe Mathijs | co-founder of Reach Outstanding

Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.

– Maya Angelou

Whether you are an entrepreneur in a new start up, a senior executive or a recently promoted manager, you may feel that you always need to be working and be physically at work. You probably already work at the weekends and have meetings into the night and the energy and adrenaline just keeps you going.

The super hero leader is admirable, and we all want to work hard and do our best. The number of hours in a day do not feel like enough so we find ourselves sleeping late and waking up early. We feel like if we do not do all of this hard work, then we may lose out, we may fail, or others may perceive us as being not up to it.

I have experienced both sides of this work ethic, when being in a corporate environment for over 20 years, it felt like I needed to be around for my staff and I’d often forget to focus on myself, be it grab a proper lunch break or take a proper holiday.

Now, as an entrepreneur, I have the same challenge and it is even more important for me to be focused on my work because if I do not work hard and achieve my goals then I do not know where my next income will come from.

Having recently returned from a very short staycation, I have realised that I need a longer holiday. I am also conscious that work is getting busier so I am working towards finding a balance and suitable time when I can take my respite.

How can we recognise that we need a break?

Signs & Symptoms of not having enough time-off

Holiday roll-over – If you are someone who regularly has vacation left at the end of the year and often rolls over holidays, then you may benefit from asking yourself if you are working too much or that your work-life balance has gone off kilter.

Tiredness & sluggishness – if you feel drained and overworked and find yourself falling asleep in front of the TV, then this may be a sign of exhaustion and needing to rest.

You can’t remember the last vacation – does your last vacation seem like so long ago that others need to remind you when and where you went?

Feeling stressed and anxious – does the strain of work-life make you feel overwhelmed and physically in pain? This is your body’s way of telling you to hit the pause button.

Isolated from friends and family – is working all the time preventing you from have quality time with family and friends? Even if they understand, it is important to recognise the symptoms.

Craving the need for a holiday – if you think of a place or see a holiday picture and it makes you feel like taking a break and stepping into the exotic, then pay attention to these feelings.

The key thing when taking a vacation is to commit to yourself that you are going to take time out and focus on the break. You may need to work during this period, if this is the case, then allocate a set amount of time for work and ensure the people around you know the limits.

Use the vacation time to connect with yourself and discover the newly found mental space to reflect and process where you are and where you want to be. Holiday time can be a magical opportunity to assess life and make some changes.

Whatever you decide to do this summer, remember to give yourself permission invest in yourself and your own well-being. Even a two-day break can create a world of wonders.

Check out more about my vacation series on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/philippe-mathijs/

Philippe Mathijs is the co-founder of Reach Outstanding, an ICF accredited coach, an executive coach and WEBECs implementation mastery facilitator. He offers leadership development programs, executive coaching and assessment centres across the UAE and UK.

Developing People. Developing Organisations.