Take a Vacation! (And Do It Right)
I am writing this post on the last day of a two-week vacation. In my long work career, I have never taken more than one week at a time. I was a workaholic and felt guilty when I would take time off from work. If you look at my total work record, I have rarely taken a sick day. I was taught in high school football to play through injuries. If I could walk, I could play. I related this concept to work. Luckily, through the years I have matured in the aspect of knowing that you need to shut it down when your body tells you to rest. I even look forward to vacations now, because I definitely shut it down.
During my vacation, I wanted to recharge. How did I do it? Body, mind and spirit. These are the keys to taking the right vacation—and getting the most of out it.
Chart how long you will be on vacation. Try to schedule a few workouts during that time, but don't overdo it. I love to get on a bike, lift some weights and walk. Especially if you go nuts eating on your vacation, work on burning calories. I was recently listening to a personal trainer teach a class on food intake. He said most people eat a small breakfast, medium lunch and large dinner. Because of how the body burns fuel, you should actually eat a large breakfast, medium lunch and small dinner. Eat portions that are smaller and eat more times a day. When you are physically active, you will feel and sleep better.
Get away from work problems. Trust me, they will be there when you return to the office. Think about things that relax and excite you. Study or read about areas of fun and interest for you. For example, during my vacation, I visited Pearl Harbor. I immediately read a book about Pearl Harbor and World War II. On the ship to Hawaii, I read a book about Native American chiefs. I love to read about people and history, but never get the chance during usual work days. I let my mind focus and recharge. I am now interested in reading about areas I have not explored before to expand my horizons.
With respect to spiritual development, focus on your physical settings. I had the blessed opportunity to see the Pacific Ocean, beautiful islands, mountain ranges and waterfalls. I also took in my beloved West Virginia hills and rivers. I did not take these views for granted. I could relate on a spiritual plane to each setting I experienced. A vacation should let you clear your mind and channel your energy in new directions. Maximizing this experience will take practice. Wherever you are and whatever you do, enjoy your time off and get into the moment as soon as possible.
The correct vacation is achieved when you can relax and feel recharged for the work that lies ahead. Nonprofit professionals like yourselves have extremely demanding jobs. Resources are being reduced and staff sizes are being cut. Administrative changes become a revolving door, and change is faster than ever. The workplace dynamics continue to shift, while expectations of generating time, talent and treasure always increase. There is so much you cannot control, but are expected to nonetheless. To do your best, you must be on top of your game. A restful, invigorating vacation—with personal attention to keeping yourself in the best physical and mental condition—can get you there.
Many nonprofit executives are lucky if they can spend 10 percent of their work year on vacation. This 10 percent could easily affect the 90 percent left on the job. Be sure to take your vacation and try to take it the correct way. You will be very glad you did!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.