One of the best ways to get ahead is to get away. Paradoxically, if you want to excel, succeed and propel your career it’s critical to take a break and detach mentally, emotionally and physically from your work.
Even if you love your job, getting away is necessary to rejuvenate and get new perspectives on your efforts.
It can be tough to accomplish healthy detachment, but there are some strategies which can help.
How to Get Away
#1 – Truly Turn Off
It may seem obvious, but people struggle to take this action: Truly turn off your work flow and all the incoming information. Close down work platforms, turn off your work laptop, remove icons from your devices and communicate that you’ll be away. To really refresh, you’ll need to reduce distractions and the temptations to just do one more thing.
Interestingly, even if you do something small, you’ll lose your sense of mental distance from work because of all the related issues you’ll consider. Answering the quick email causes you to think of the follow up question, the additional colleagues who need to be in the loop or the additional idea you have on a related topic. Your thinking process is so integrated, that it’s impossible to do one quick thing.
Better to put everything aside and focus on taking time away.
#2 – Read Non-Work Books
Many people like to use vacation time to catch up on their business reading. And while this may be an efficient use of time, it may not be an optimal use of time. When you read business books, you’ll automatically refer to your own work and experiences. You’ll imagine how the concepts relate to work-you, your team and your organization.
A more powerful way to really break away is to read fiction or non-work topics (or listen to them). A great mystery, a strange dystopia or a gripping story of survival are all brilliant ways to not only detach from work, but to immerse in something very different.
#3 – Resist Work-Related Discussions
As tempting as it is, try to reduce work-related discussions. When you’re with family, they may ask you about your job. Or when you see a friend for lunch, she’ll want to know how things are going with your career. Be polite, but also steer the conversation toward non-work-related topics. Talk about the vacation you’re planning, about your new exercise regimen, about the children in your life or about your beloved pooch.
The mantra is true, “What you focus on, expands.” So when you’re in discussions, emphasize all the things in your life which take you away from your daily vocation. Even when you love your work, distance can give you greater perspective and a fresh approach when you return.
#4 – Exercise and Spend Time in Nature
During the average work week, it may be tough to squeeze in enough exercise, but pushing yourself physically, is significantly correlated with happiness. Go to the gym extra days. Schedule time with a trainer who can check your form or coordinate with a friend who wants to boost their fitness.
Also seek time in nature—whether you’re taking your run through the park or just sitting by the bank of a river. If you’re in a cold climate, research shows snowy weather can be especially peaceful. And if you’re not, warm temperatures can be just the motivation to catch the sunset at the beach or climb to a local peak and feel the breeze at a higher altitude.
Nature has powerfully positive effects because it tends to instill a sense of awe and wonder and help people feel centered—all of which are helpful to taking meaningful time away from the daily grind of work.
#5 – Volunteer Your Time
When people volunteer, they tend to have higher salaries and they are more likely to be promoted. But even better reasons to volunteer your time are to connect with your community and contribute to your sense of joy. People who are generous with their time and who focus on providing their gifts and talents to their communities are statistically more likely to be happy.
So call the local homeless shelter and determine how you can help. Clean out your basement and donate to the second-hand store. Roll up your sleeves and make lunches for children who are food-insecure or spend a few mornings at the local animal shelter.
Seek the activities which interest you for the causes which mean the most.
#6 – Do Something Outside Your Comfort Zone
Another great way to get away from work mentally is to stretch yourself through new experiences or new learning. Take a short, intensive class to get a jump start on learning a new language. Find a place to do indoor skydiving or rock climbing.
Pushing yourself to new limits is correlated with happiness because it reminds you of all you’re capable of, and expands your perceived constraints. It also gives you a memorable experiences which can give you a reset for the new year.
# 7 – Meditate
Perhaps one of the best ways to get away is to do nothing—and meditation is one strategy. Of course, anyone who has tried to meditate knows it’s not nothing and it’s not easy. The saying is true that the harder you find it to meditate, the more you can benefit from it.
Developing the discipline to quiet your body and mind takes meaningful effort, and it’s associated with all kinds of health benefits. Getting started with even five minutes a day of meditation while you’re on vacation may be just the head start you need to continue meditating as you return to work.
It can be tough to detach, but each day you’re successful will make the next day easier as well. When you’re at work, put yourself into things fully, commit and engage. But when it’s time to wind down or take a break, use the opportunity to regroup and refresh. Getting away can help you get ahead because you’ll be back with a clearer head, better energy and new perspectives.
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