I like my job, and as a result I can be guilty of spending too much time at it … or thinking about it when I’m not around it.  I worked straight out of university, went back to school 4 years later to do my grad studies, and when I was done that I went straight into building the career I now have – professional speaker and fitness professional.  I’ve always been in pursuit of more.  I had this idea that if I’m not ‘on top of my game’ the whole show will pass me by.  As a result, my holiday time was usually a week maximum, or an extended weekend, and I’d always have my email or data device close at hand.

What kind of break is that?

Back in May I looked at my summer speaking schedule and realized I didn’t have one.  It’s pretty typical in my industry as companies elect to delay staff sessions until fall when everyone has returned from holidays.  I would essentially be unemployed for the month of July.  In Calgary, that lull is made worse by our famous Calgary Stampede that slows business down to a snail’s pace for the first two weeks of the month.  It would be a quiet month of cleaning my office, sorting files, and wishing I was elsewhere… so I decided to go elsewhere.

From June 25th until July 27th I shut down my office and flew to Europe.  I turned off my Blackberry and created a travel email address which would allow me to be in contact with friends and family and NOT my work inbox.  My voice messages and email replies all said “I speak on Life Balance and Stress Management so I’ve chosen to walk my talk and will not be responding until I return.”

FREEDOM!  I was away for nearly 5 weeks and didn’t really think of work … and for me it worked to travel in July, because while I was enjoying Paris, Rome, and the south of France, clients back home were busy eating corn dogs at Stampede, or taking their own holidays.  My inbox remained remarkably empty.  My phone messages were few.  I coudl have taken that as a slight, but it had nothing to do with me.  Summer is for holidays.  Why am I less deserving of a real break than anyone else?

Never confuse having a career with having a life. Instead of staying in Calgary and creating ‘make work’ projects or waiting for return calls from clients away on their own holidays I had the time of my life travelling to new and wondrous places, meeting great people, literally eating my way across Europe and walking it off in each city I visited.  I felt as though I’d given myself a big gift by choosing to leave work behind.  It was still there waiting for me upon my return.

Yes, I’m back now and I’m refreshed, energized, and of course motivated to create the work I need to have a busy speaking schedule this fall and pay for my trip!

What do your summer break plans look like? Has it been awhile since you cut yourself off completely from all things job related?  In as much as your work allows, step away this summer.  Take a real break from checking emails, calling in to check messages, or bringing work along.  It can all wait.  You’ll only truly learn that if you give it a try.

Once fall hits and you’re back at it, contact me about coming in to your workplace and enforcing some of these life balance and stress management concepts with your team.  www.michellecederberg.com

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Michelle Cederberg, MKin, CEP, Professional Speaker

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