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10 Ways a Break Makes You a Better Leader and Better Human

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10 Ways A Break Makes You Better

He was bragging, of course, proud that he used next to nothing from his vacation balance and excited to get the payout for the unused hours at the end of the year. My question was confronting, and for a half of a second, I felt bad for asking it.

“At what cost?”

Then the half-second passed, and my question lingered.

“Cost? It’s a gain. That money is great to have at the end of the year. Santa isn’t free and…”

I admit it. I stopped listening for a moment. Instead, I studied his features for a tell, a sign that he knew that he was selling himself a story, and more than willing to buy it.

If I were a betting woman, I’d say that the truth wasn’t about cash flow but career fears.

Common career fears when people say no to using vacation time:

What if I’m easily replaceable?

How will I deal with the pile of work that will greet me once I’m back in the office?

My team needs me and will struggle without me.

For solopreneurs, the additional fears include:

If I disappear, my customers will forget about me.

There is no one else to do the work; my business will not survive the hit.

People will think I closed the business.

Fear can be debilitating and stop you in your tracks. Remember, these are stories. Don’t like ’em, create another one that gives you the space to breathe and recover from your hard work instead of tethering you to the office.

Fresh off one of my longer breaks, here’s what I know is true:

Time off to relax and recharge is time well spent.

You can check in without checking out of where you are.

Breathing isn’t overrated.

Hamster wheels are not human wheels for a reason.

Back from my adventures and remotely over the jet lag, I’ve returned not with a tan or a suitcase full from shopping, but with a fresh perspective.

10 Ways a Break Makes You Better

The next time you tell yourself that a long weekend is as good as it’s going to get, take a beat and remind yourself of the upside to a meaningful break.

It may feel stressful to take the time away but I promise, a break makes you better and the people around you will be grateful too.

1. Life is about experiences and creating memories that matter. While you may have great successes at the office, consider what’s in your photo albums. The ones you’ll flip through years from now. Bet it’s not filled with photos of your laptop and phone screens.

2. A full life makes you a happier human than a busy life. Full means multi-faceted. Take a break to do what you love and remember why you love it.

3. When you’re dealing with a big issue and put all of your energy towards solving it, sometimes the only way to unravel it is to let your brain take a break from the problem. Time away may be just what you need to have the aha moment you’re craving.

4. When everything is bothering you, and you’re hypersensitive to everyone around you, a break gives you time, space and distance. Maybe it was about them, and maybe, just maybe, it’s about the way you’ve been reacting that’s been escalating the problem.

5. They say “absence makes the heart grow fonder” for a reason.

6. When you’re away, you get to show your team that you trust them and let them step up to lead too. That’s the core of leadership – it’s a win-win.

7. You have the time to unlearn bad behaviors. If every time your fingers linger over your phone or keyboard you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or email, you can learn to manage the urge and return to moderation.

8. Time spent with the people who love you beyond dueling laptops in the evening or wolfing down dinner is time well spent. It’s fuel for the present and the future.

9. You set the tone. Never take time off? The people who work for you think that they can’t either. It’s essential to create a culture where self-care is valued, and you lead the way.

10. We are living in an era when everyone is chasing happiness. You know, work hard so you can buy the toys and life that make others salivate when they see the pictures. It’s part of playing the game of “See? I’m a success.” A break reminds you that while you stop the chase, happiness is here for you, right this moment. Embrace it.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” ~ Guillaume Apollinaire

When was the last time you took time away from your work? What did you learn in the process?

Related: 10 Personal Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned from a Dog

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