I wish I could think of a good punchline to this. (I’m open to ideas!) My answer, albeit an unfunny one, is “when you don’t feel recharged and refreshed for at least a month afterwards”.
A month? Quite a tall order perhaps but why not?
We all need a break now and then. Whether it’s a 5-star luxury retreat, a trans-global adventure or a few days pottering at home, a holiday is more than just a place we go or a set of things we’re going to DO. A holiday is TIME.
Time is usually the first word that comes up when talking about making a change. The lack of it, naturally.
So, when you make time for a holiday, what are you actually making time for?
At this point, most people list a variation of “sun”, “food” and “sleep”. As lavish as these elements are, this is usually about repair. You know that feeling when you’ve been out waaaay to late or drunk waaay too much and you just want to crawl in to bed and sleep for 12 hours. Our first thoughts on holiday are often to just “switch off”. It’s a NEED.
So, if that’s the case, give yourself time to repair. Go on! If you ignore this bit, how will you be able to get on with the really good stuff?
Now you have decided what the repair phase looks like, ask yourself again;
“What is your holiday making time for?”
Draw, scribble, list, doodle or talk/record your answers. Give all those thoughts that have been buzzing around a chance to come out.
“What is most important to me?”
Which of those thoughts, ideas or tasks stand out for you? Not what you think SHOULD stand out, but what you feel compelled by. What makes you nervous or excited?
“How do I want to feel at the end of this holiday?”
If your answers so far feel like a “to do” list, adding more pressure and using up more time, describing a feeling really helps. It gets you out of your thoughts and focuses on your emotions and physical state (breathing, pulse, muscles). It also allows your intuition to get involved too!
Unless you are holidaying alone, there will be others who will have their own ideas of what a great holiday looks like. Having a conversation about how you’d each like to feel at the end helps figure out something that will work best for everyone.
Being really clear about what you want from your time away from work, before you go, increases the chances of it actually happening. Whether it's having more fun with the family or using your creativity to solve a business issue or both, you can create the conditions to get the most from your time away.
Apply the same principles when you go back to work and, before you know it, you’ll still be reaping the benefits of your precious time away while you prepare for your next holiday!