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Why You (And Your Career) Need A Vacation

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, I just returned home after renting an ocean-view condo in Newport Beach for one month.

One full month of playing at the beach, building sandcastles, staring out at the ocean and digging my toes into wet sand and then watching it all wash away.

In my “normal” life, I live in Tempe where my work days are over-stuffed with being a program manager for a Fortune 100 company, writing books, running my own business, helping clients, conducting media interviews, juggling work and family, and just trying to keep my head above water.

The only time I can hop off the hamster wheel and try to be proactive about “What do I actually want to be doing in my career?” is when I go on vacation.

I try not to let my thoughts linger on my daily routine, but more towards what energizes me in my career.

What gives me the feeling of accomplishment? What fills me with purpose and meaning? What are the “fun” things I’m currently doing? Are there any new things that I want to try doing?

A few years ago, I was vacationing at the Hyatt in San Diego spending my days eating ice cream cones walking along the beach and cheering for Shamu at Sea World. Feeling extraordinarily refreshed one morning, I got up early and ate my breakfast out on the balcony overlooking the ocean.

On a whim, I grabbed my laptop and pulled up Amazon. It had been a dream of mine to be featured on their Top Ten List of personal branding books. I was currently lagging at #13.

Quietly, my thoughts turned towards the question, “What are they doing that I’m not doing?” I lingered over each book’s description and noticed that many of the top 10 books were available in audio and e-book formats. I quickly added to my list of career goals that in six months I would offer my book in audio and e-book versions. I did, and eight months later my book soared to #3 on Amazon’s Top 10 list.

This would never have happened if I hadn’t allowed myself to escape from the office.

It turns out that when we’re able to leave the office (and I mean, really leave the office behind us) to rejuvenate and replenish our spirit, we are actually able to think new thoughts. In fact, I wrote my entire first book in just 3.5 weeks while I was vacationing at a bed & breakfast in Dublin, Ireland.

Carve out time this summer to travel somewhere that’s fun and dream about possibilities in your career. What do you want to be doing? Which activities fill you with energy? How can you start doing more of those? Which activities deplete you of energy? Are there ways you can delegate, negotiate with your boss, or outsource those activities? What do you want to accomplish?

Give yourself permission to dream. My dream is to be able to take off one month during the summer, plus the entire month of December. That would mean working 10 months of the year, and taking two months off. I’m not there yet… but with each vacation I’m getting closer to making it a reality.

Read more posts by Sherri Thomas, a career strategist, international speaker and best-selling author. Sherri blogs for JenningsWire.