I believe in creating a life you don’t need to take a holiday from. The goal isn’t to work through constant rollercoasters of thrilling highs and crushing lows or strive for boom and bust. The goal isn’t to run yourself into the ground and need two weeks of doing nothing.

The goal isn’t to be a completely different person depending on whether it’s 16:55 or 17:05. To need two separate Instagram accounts or seek arbitrary boundaries as a coping mechanism for an unsound work philosophy.

Needing a holiday should not be seen as a badge of honour. If that happens, it’s gone too far.

Take a break before you need one

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What’s going wrong?

If you’re craving a holiday, work out what you’re craving a holiday from. If your business is a pain to run or your customers are always unhappy; you probably will feel like you need a break. But turning your emails off ignores the crux of the matter and it will only keep happening. Two weeks away will mean a mountain of problems to return to, resulting in more angst and a realisation that you should have tackled the root of the problem instead.

Instead of focusing your intention on those breaks you really need, create a life you don’t need to escape from. Create a daily routine that’s fun to live, that you enjoy. Work with people you love working with, that inspire you. Do excellent work that makes a difference. If you know something is subpar, fix it. If you know a team member isn’t up to scratch, train them.

Set boundaries and create processes that mean progress happens without you. Don’t be available all the time. Coach your team members to think up solutions and have the confidence to implement them. There’s a big difference between needing a break and wanting a break. Don’t let your work be your prison.

Incorporate sustainability

Book your trips, go for those meals out, explore that city, climb those mountains, but do it within the realms of setting up a default lifestyle that works for you. Spread them out throughout the year and make every week remarkable.

Changes of scenery can work wonders. New ideas pop into my head when I visit new places, meet new people and change my routine. Writing from a new balcony, mind-mapping ideas from the beach and discussing plans whilst on a run are all enjoyable ventures. But it’s the same as meditating from my desk, going to the gym in the afternoon or booking an impromptu spa day. Either you run the day, or the day runs you.  

Founder of Think Productive, Graham Allcott, is a big fan of working breaks. For a few months of each year he relocates, works four solid hours per day, and loves it. He likes changing his view and has created the working situation that allows for this.

Your work can likely be done from anywhere, providing you have a laptop and an internet connection. If you love what you do; the people, the projects, the creativity, there will be a way of organising it so that you steer far away from the unhealthy boom and bust “I need a holiday” culture that’s permeated our working lives.

Take a break before you need one

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Take a break before you need to

Don’t leave it to a two-week period of the year to relax, recover, and lower your heart rate. Clear your head and revisit your goals weekly, not annually. Rest when you don’t need to. Don’t neglect your health and wellbeing so much during the working year that by the time your holiday arrives you can’t wait to shut off your laptop. Work is important. Downtime is important too.

Mark Leruste, founder of the Unconventionalists, plans all of the year’s trips with his family in advance, including travelling the world every August. Whilst he won’t book speaking gigs during that time, he’s not afraid of staying abreast of his company’s endeavours, and he readily admits that the year is organised in this way because he could quite happily work 24/7. It’s a proactive lifestyle choice, not a fix for burning out.

Don’t set an out of office email responder. It implies that emails should command an immediate response. It implies an obligation. The more that is expected of you, the more you are obliged to do, the more you will seek refuge. The more your work is on your terms the more freedom you will find. The more choice you will have and the more you will enjoy each and every day, no matter what you do with it.

Take inspiration from Valentino Rossi, who said, “My normal life is like being on holiday.” Find the healthy and sustainable balance that comes with better working practices, a self-sufficient and supportive team, and work that deep down you know is excellent.

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Roland Millaner