Counselor Commentary: Make Vacation A Priority

Don't Let Summer Pass You By

Dave VagnoniWhat’s your plan for the summer of 2015? Sure, you’d like to grow your sales. Maybe you want to be more active on social media. You could even be thinking about volunteering at a nonprofit. These are all good ideas. Hopefully, though, you’ll also be spending some time away on vacation. You really should make it a priority.  

A recent American Express OPEN survey showed 60% of small-business owners expect to take a week-long vacation this summer. This is a nice jump from a year ago when only about half of business owners planned a getaway. If you’re among the 40% that won’t be taking vacation, though, you should reconsider.

Did you know, for example, that multiple studies have linked lack of vacation to a higher risk of heart disease? Did you know research also shows if you pass on vacation you can increase your chance of suffering depression? Finally, did you know your friends, neighbors and kids will think you’re boring and call you names behind your back if you don’t get to the beach, the mountains, the theme park or somewhere else that’s not your office?

In all seriousness, there are some legitimate reasons for staying home. Thinking your company will not survive without you, though, is a very bad reason. There seems to be a fear inherent in entrepreneurs that if they take vacation, they’ll lose business, their customers will stop liking them and whoever they put in charge will set the office on fire. Your company will be fine.

You can prevent a lot of while-you’re-away issues by taking a few simple steps. First, let your customers – especially the good ones – know you’re taking a vacation. They won’t judge you, really. Be clear and tell them who they should contact while you’re gone. Second, pick a time to vacation when your company typically has a lull. Third, hire a temp to take your calls and forward you any messages that just can’t wait. If you have to, set aside a time every day you’re away to be available for a quick conversation.

Remember, too, that you don’t have to lay out on a south Pacific island, fly to Europe, or backpack through a national park to have a vacation. Go watch your kids play in a volleyball tournament, take some daytrips to museums or find a couple of great vineyards to visit. The key is to give your mind a break from spreadsheets, e-mails, your colleague’s annoying cell phone ringtone – anything that relates to work.

There’s so much more to life than closing the next deal or re-tweeting someone’s blog post. Give yourself, your spouse, your children, your pets, whoever – your total attention. And for goodness sake, don’t let the calendar flip to Labor Day and regret another summer passed you by.