Remember the old Eveready® battery commercial with Robert Conrad in a muscle shirt playing the tough guy? He had an Eveready battery sitting on his shoulder while he muttered the line, “I dare you to knock this off.” I’m not sure why he was daring anyone to knock the battery off his shoulder or what that really had to do with selling batteries, but I do remember the commercial nearly 40 years later.
A better question might be, why am I reminiscing about a battery commercial of which I don’t understand the point? And I really don’t have an answer for how it relates to anything, other than that I was thinking about the importance of recharging your battery, and the old commercial came to me.
Perhaps I’m being self-indulgent in extolling the virtues of time away from the office. You see, as I write this, I’m on a flight home after a week on a Caribbean island. So, I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not I’ve just allowed my guilt to get to me, and I’m going to waste your time trying to justify my week away from the office.
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I’m not sure if we’re ever really away from the office. I, of course, traveled to paradise with my cell phone and computer in tow. I checked e-mail multiple times each day. My wife would use the word “constantly,” but I think that’s a reach even if I must admit how darn easy it is to take a peek at my phone as the e-mail comes in. And I had a couple of scheduled calls during the trip. So, I was away from the office but not really completely disconnected.
If you are indeed old enough to remember the Eveready commercial, then you might also recall the days when you went on vacation and the only way to stay in touch with the office was to call from your hotel room. There were no cell phones. We had no e-mail. If you needed an update, you had to call in to get it. It made it a bit easier to disconnect from work—a blessing and a curse.
While on our vacation, my wife claimed that I am incapable of completely disconnecting from work—not for a full week but just for two days. Challenge accepted! Next trip I’m going to prove I can indeed shut it all off for at least 48 hours. It can’t be that hard. And yes, I understand that my wife knows how to get exactly what she wants. All she has to do is say that I can’t do something and I’m out to prove her wrong. If I succeed in doing so, she gets what she was looking for in the first place.
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I must say that after a week away, I’m ready to be back in the office. But it’s good for me to get away and spend some time thinking about something other than work. In our super-connected world, it’s easy to be hooked to work for the majority of our waking hours. So, to step back from the daily grind gives one some perspective. You get the opportunity to look at the big picture. It’s too easy to get caught up in the details that make up our daily work instead of focusing on the greater vision for where we want to go both personally and professionally. A week away from the office can help you do just that.
Some people see never taking vacation as a badge of honor. Maybe it makes them feel important. They’re just too vital to the organization to be away. Others want to tell you that even when they’re on vacation, they really can’t stop working. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll be replaced. Maybe they’re afraid others will discover that they can get along without them. But it does make you wonder—why go on vacation if you’re only going to work? The purpose of a vacation is to take time away from work to enjoy yourself!
The truth is that a real vacation can allow you to come back reenergized and revitalized. It can help you regain your focus and attack things with a renewed energy. I think we sometimes forget the toll the daily grind of work can have on us. It slowly wears us down until we’re in a rut. A good vacation can help you regain that much-needed perspective. It can allow you to be a better employee. But it’s up to you to give it a chance. You must get away. You must disconnect. You must be willing to put work behind you for some length of time. Then let me know how it works for you. And I’ll let you know if and when I prove my wife wrong!