Last week I took my first vacation in almost three years.
Some people might see that as bragging—“Look at me, I work really hard and I never take off work, blah blah blah”—but I assure you that’s not the case. Quite the opposite, and in fact, I’m embarrassed about it. In addition to a strong work ethic, I’ve always maintained a healthy work-home balance.
Work is important, and I’m fortunate to do something that I love; however, work is not my life, and it never will be. That may sound like treason to some people, including some of my friends and industry colleagues, but it’s a fact. Work is part of my life, not the other way around.
But that all changed when I launched my own agency last year. In the past, I focused all my time and energy on my clients (client interaction is by far my favorite part of the job). Now I have to think about clients as well as
paying rent, meeting payroll, picking the best health care plan for my employees, deciding when to make a hire, etc. I experience every emotion every day, and over time I feel like I’m going crazy.
My agency is part of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but as many new business owners can attest, there’s a thin line between working “a lot” and working “too much.” There are countless studies that aim to identify what makes people productive at work, and “everyone” talks about the value of having a proper work/life balance.
Sounds fairly simple, but in the post-2008 economic environment, I think it’s safe to say we all work more than we did five years ago and with much less job security. How many of you have wanted to take a vacation, only to put it on hold out of fear your boss may hold it against you at some point?
So why take a vacation in an uncertain economic environment and while my business is still in its infancy? Because doing so was for the greater good of myself, my business and my clients. I’m 31 years old and I’ll be damned if I work 24/7 and not take a step back sometimes. Everyone needs to recharge their batteries from time to time, and we’ve all hit a place at work (and in life) where some quiet time away from the office does wonders.
Though I continued to think of work while on vacation and check emails occasionally, I didn’t obsess over it as much as I normally do. The resort where we stayed didn’t offer Wi-Fi on the beach or by the pool, which I cursed at first, but it was a blessing in disguise. I was on vacation to unwind with my wife and have a good time, not to check emails or see what the markets are doing.
Having planned our getaway months in advance, I was able to prepare my colleagues/clients for my absence and do everything I could to ensure the office would continue to plow ahead as it normally does. Much to my surprise, they all wished me well and they were pleased to see me enjoy myself.
Now that I’m back I’m recharged and ready to throw myself back into my work with a sense of excitement and calm that I seemed to lose for a while.
When’s the last time you’ve taken a vacation?
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Andrew Healy is partner at Water & Wall Group in New York. A version of this story first appeared on the firm’s blog.