The great Stoic philosopher, Seneca, once said, “Leisure without study is death – a tomb for the living person.” Readers widely accept the quote as a reminder that time off from your busy life should be an active pursuit, not an idle one. Vacation, in other words, isn’t a time to sit on the beach and turn off your brain. On the contrary, you should be observing the world around you, taking it all in, and working for a better understanding of the universe.
Vacation with Intention
We like to reflect on this quote as a reminder to do everything in life with intention, even take a vacation. You need a purpose behind your decisions and actions. When we are talking about getting away in relation to the aggregation of marginal gains, we are intending to cause separation from our regular life. We need an opportunity to turn off our regular life and focus on something else. Only then can we recharge our minds to come back stronger.
How to Know When
The first problem we have to solve is figuring out when we need to get away. For those with widely varying work schedules, this can be easy. An accountant, for example, will be busier between January and April 15th than at any other time of the year. A school teacher will be busiest between August and May or June. These individuals can definitively say, “Phew, I’m glad that busy time is over, I need a break.”
For the rest of us, with steady flows of work, this isn’t so easy. Even the most self-reflective among us will have a hard time feeling like we need to get away to recharge. This is because the fogginess that needs to be cleared comes on slowly. We don’t realize that we are not firing on all cylinders and some things are irritating us more than they should. We don’t see the rut we are in until we can pull ourselves away.
How Long We Need
The second problem we have to solve is figuring out how long we need to get away. As long as you are focused on your regular life, you aren’t away for long enough. Thus, we suggest at least two days. We’ve found that one day off isn’t enough because we still think about what is going to happen when we return the next day. However, with two days, you can completely separate yourself the first day. If you can add more days, even better.
It is almost impossible to duplicate the full recharge you need without getting away. It doesn’t matter how much you love your job or your life. You need a change of scenery. You need to fully unplug. It may seem unnecessary or daunting, but it’s worth it on the other side, we promise.