We all love a holiday, but time away can also be a great opportunity to refresh your working life. A break away from normal routine is an ideal time to generate new ideas and make plans for the future, especially if you are a busy working parent. Here are five things you can do to help new ideas grow:
1) Switch off
A holiday is the best time to take a proper break from the demands of modern life. Make sure that you turn off work email to give you a chance to focus on your children, your partner and also yourself! If that isn’t possible, at least try to define a period when you will not be answering email and put that on your ‘out of office’ reply before you go. Even a very short (but complete) break from the workplace can work wonders for your wellbeing. Your holiday is also a good time to have a break from the endlessly-refreshed temptations of social media. Delete the apps from your smartphone or mobile device; you can always reinstall them when you get back. This is particularly important if you are ‘friends’ with colleagues on social media, as workplace moans or snippets of gossip are likely to suck you back in!
You may feel tired during the first few days of a holiday, as your body and mind catches up with the stresses and strains of life. Try not to fight this fatigue, but take the time to rest as much as you can. Avoid caffeinated drinks (and excess alcohol!), get out in the fresh air and get in some early nights. Get some mental rest too: let your mind drift or simply be present in the moment while you shower, swim or prepare meals. Now might be a good time to try out some mindfulness or simple relaxation techniques. Spend time just ‘being’ with your children, exploring a new environment or sitting with them while they play. Obviously it is going to be harder to relax if you have a baby or toddler, or a child with additional needs, but – if you have a partner or family member to share the load – then some ‘you’ time should still be possible. This period of low mental activity will create the free space in which new ideas can grow.
Fresh starts and resolutions are not just for the period between Christmas and the New Year! From our earliest years the summer period has offered a change in pace, with a break from school and the opportunity to begin a fresh new page in the autumn. So, as an adult, a summer holiday is the ideal time to look back on the previous year and plan for the year ahead. Consider using a published tool such as Jinny Ditzler’s book ‘Your Best Year Yet’, or Brian Mayne’s Goal Mapping process (affiliate links). If you have a long-term partner or spouse, make sure that you include them in the process too. One of you might want to change career or study for further qualifications; perhaps moving house or adding to your family is on the horizon. Either way, a summer holiday is a good time to discuss, agree and set joint plans.
Your choice of holiday reading can give you fresh ideas for a new direction or self-employment. Choose your reading about ten days before you go away, while there is still time to read reviews and to shop around. Consider taking some non-fiction: a personal development handbook like Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, or something that will stimulate ideas for new ways of working such as ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ by Timothy Ferriss (affiliate links). Inspirational podcasts or TED talks may work better for you than written matter; you can absorb them while you are travelling or carrying out other tasks. But reading, watching or listening on its own is not enough: remember a pen and paper and if something sparks a new idea for your working life, take the time to note it down and capture your thoughts. Most importantly, save or take photographs of these notes so that you can revisit them once you are back home.
Why not use your holiday time to do something constructive, that you have been meaning to ‘get around to’ for ages? Unless you are so successful that your reputation goes before you, then your LinkedIn profile can probably benefit from some attention! Once you have your new and improved profile, then spend some time on LinkedIn adding new connections and seeking recommendations for your work. An equally constructive way to spend some holiday time might be to research new opportunities and ideas. If you are thinking of further training, search for some courses offered by universities, professional bodies or online learning providers such as FutureLearn. If self-employment is for you, why not spend some time checking out the competition, or seeing if the domain names you prefer are available online? Government support is available for new businesses, so it may also be a good use of your time to explore some of these schemes.
On your return
After a break it is easy to get caught up again in the daily round of activity: work might have piled up in your absence, there is a huge pile of laundry and perhaps life can seem a bit flat. Now is the time to revisit the notes you made while you were away and set some goals based on your new ideas. The rest is up to you!
Click here for the British Library business support centre, with online material, events and face-to-face support.
The Government Start-up Loans scheme is available here.
Click here for the Floodlight guide to courses from a wide range of institutions.
If you have found this article useful please share it with your friends and followers on social media!
Please note that this blog is only a guide and you should always seek advice tailored to your own circumstances before making decisions that may have financial implications. This page contains some affiliate links to products that you may find useful: please see my about page for more information.