I think it's fair to say 2020 was a hard year for everyone. For me personally, on top of COVID I started a new job and also completed a substantial home renovation, all while focusing on maintaining a healthy life-balance through regular acts of self-care.
While I'm definitely the happiest and most mentally fit I've ever been, my life has still been incredibly busy. Between building out my team at Bank of America and launching the "52 Weeks of Me" blog and Podcast, I really haven't taken much time off. The good thing is that I absolutely love what I'm doing, so I really hadn't thought much of it until I stumbled across an interview with John Fitch and Max Frenzel, the authors of the book, "Time Off: A Practical Guide to Building Your Rest Ethic and Finding Success Without the Stress." The interview was such a powerful lesson in how we should be thinking about time off, that I highly recommend listening to the interview or reading the book to anyone struggling with taking a break from work.
The book introduces the concept of a “rest-ethic,” which is the antagonist of the more common term "work-ethic”. We're always thinking about work-ethic and the things we should be doing, but we're not routinely thinking about the opposite side of the coin. Think about it, when was the last time you were rated based on the work you didn't do, or more specifically the time you had taken off? Or when did someone suggest it might be time to take a break? For me, the answer to those questions is an emphatic "never!"
The thing is, work-ethic and rest-ethic really need to go hand in hand, working very much like a checking account in that if you keep making withdrawals your balance will eventually be zero, but if you integrate deposits there will always be money in the account. In many ways, work is exactly the same in that always working without resting may not lead to financial bankruptcy, but it will result in burnout.
Having not taken a vacation day since starting the new job back in March, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of our family's 90-day COVID immunity to finally take a real vacation and recharge our batteries. Once my mind was made up, I spent a few hours researching and booking our trip and within a few days our bags were packed and we were off.
The thing with this vacation, which was different from just about any other I've taken, was my real focus was on fully switching off and dialing in to my rest-ethic; I didn't attend any meetings, I didn't take my computer with me, and I barely checked my email. Instead, I spent my time watching the sunset, taking sailing lessons, hanging by the pool, and whiling away the hours playing card games and hanging with the kids. The results were magical! The kids were in their element and the biggest daily debate was what to eat from the buffet and at what point is it considered too much ice cream.
Overall, the vacation was exactly what I needed and my only regret (COVID or not), is that we didn't do it sooner. With proper panning and precautions anything is possible; all you have to do is allow yourself the gift of time off without the guilt.