I am in the US for a couple of weeks to see the folks and family in my hometowns of Seattle and Vancouver. Up to a few years back, it had been seven years between visits. This will be the second time in two years, making it almost frequent.
A paradox of our society is that holidays can be perceived as both as an investment and a luxury. Aaron Birkby, CEO of Startup Catalyst and co-founder of the new Peak Personae program, outlined the challenge and opportunity in his recent post “Why founders need to invest in themselves“. A holiday as part of the portfolio of that investment is important.
Not taking holidays is ingrained into my DNA. As an American living in Australia, I align with articles that ask “Why America is the ‘no-vacation’ nation?” and “Why is America afraid to take a vacation?” I grew up in a family-owned manufacturing company. Combined with the US standard of two-weeks of holidays per year, there is a sense that you are “always on” and holidays are an unnecessary luxury when you are starting or running a business.
A holiday alone is not the solution. Studies across a range of professions, from 76 clerks, 87 blue-collar employees, to 131 teachers all highlight the same outcome: vacations are effective for around four weeks before symptoms of burnout return. More effective is a deep connection with purpose and an ability to detach from work on a regular basis. Holidays are an important aspect, but part of a portfolio of personal investment.
Holidays break repeated patterns of thinking ingrained by familiar environments and habits. Once broken, space is created for creativity and fresh ideas. This is the same principle seen when I deliver off-site strategy sessions, as the novel environment help leaders think in new ways about the opportunities in their business.
This time off is particularly timely for me. I have come off the back of managing Fire Station 101, heading into a new role supporting measurement across Queensland and in local councils, and building a new startup helping hubs and programs measure outcomes and supporting entrepreneurs. My ten days will be filled with sky-high view of flying to new regions, appreciation of new art forms from galleries to plays to jazz, deep heart connection with family, and physical challenges of climbing snowy mountains.
And food, I expect. Lots of food.
An alternate paradox of holidays is that by not focusing on work, the ideas for work emerge. The neuroscience behind this goes into diffuse and focused learning methods. When we stop focusing on the problem, our conscious makes way for the subconscious to explore and access new ways of thinking about the challenge. By looking at artwork or walking new city streets, the new ideas will come.
Entrepreneur self-care will be a part of the measurement platform we plan on releasing for a few select hubs and programs at the end of the month. Holidays for a sky-high view are a part of that self-care program.