The key to happiness in your profession is to do what you love. This is advice we try to give to young people when they are first choosing their careers, we give to our friends and family when they are thinking about making a change, and advice we all try to follow ourselves. But it's harder than it sounds. Even your favorite profitable activities can grow dull with repetition if you let them. Working with others can often be frustrating and routine can turn tasks that were once fun into tedium.
Eventually, you may find yourself wondering "Did I choose the right career? Do I really love my job or was that youthful optimism all along?" When most people start feeling this way, the right answer is usually to take a vacation. But what if you don't have the funds or the off-time to leave for a week-long brain refresher and remember what you love about your job?
The answer is the working vacation mindset.
What is a "Working Vacation?"
There are a lot of different ways to take a working vacation, but in every form, it is the way professionals have successfully combined the need to relax and the need to keep up with work tasks at the same time. Some professionals take their laptops on vacation in order to stay in touch with the team and finish a few reports while relaxing in their hotel rooms. Others who freelance or work remotely may travel to beautiful places, then work there in order to fund a constantly rolling 'working vacation' from an RV or bouncing from Airbnb to Airbnb.
Essentially, a working vacation is any way you can combine both a luxurious amount of relaxation and getting some work done at the same time. But an interesting detail here is that you don't even have to be away from your usual work environment to refresh your mind and enjoy yourself as if you were on vacation.
The Working Vacation Mindset
On a traditional working vacation, the kind involving hotels and tourist activities sprinkled with a few hours of work, your goal is to take time to both relax and get a little work done. You lie on the beach for a few hours, then check your email between sunbathing and lunch. You enjoy a sumptuous meal in the hotel restaurant, then get an hour or two of work done before bed. The working vacation mindset takes this same dedication to happiness and productivity right back into the workplace.
If you're already losing time to being frustrated, getting headaches, and dreaming about a vacation, start taking your vacation a few minutes or even seconds at a time. You might be surprised by the productivity boost you get simply by making yourself responsible for your own relaxation. Here are a few tips to help you get into the right working vacation state of mind.
1) Kick Off Your Shoes
No one has to know whether or not you are wearing shoes at your desk and the freedom to wiggle your does into some deep plush carpet make the difference in feeling relaxed even while your fingers clack away at your computer or you hold conversations with clients on the phone. If the front of your desk is visible, consider adding a small privacy screen or even a delightful leg-warming trifold if your office tends to stay on the chilly side.
2) Find New Beautiful Places to Work
One of the most powerful things about a vacation is a simple change of scenery but this is something you can achieve in the office almost as easily. If you don't have to be at your desk 100% of the time, take your laptop and find few new places to do some work during the day. Your office building may have gardens that usually only the landscapers notice or a rooftop retreat or even just a nice place next to a big window you like the view from. Kick up on a windowsill or under a beautiful tree to escape the feeling of constant workplace stress.
3) Enjoy Little Luxuries
Special treats make vacations all the sweeter, even if you don't go anywhere at all. Go out of your way to treat yourself to little delights like a fragrant cup of tea or just close your eyes and enjoy a moment of inner quiet during your lunch break. Bring an extra cushion for your work chair have a little dessert with lunch, or just take a leisurely walk around the office and say hello to friends as if you were vacationing.
Know When to Relax and When to Buckle Down
Finally, the most important part of finding workplace happiness through the working vacation mindset is knowing when to relax and when it's time to buckle down. Just like the traveling professional who stays available via phone just-in-case, be ready to jump into your all-work mode whenever the work demands it. Then, when the situation is dealt with, reward yourself with some intentional relaxing. Knowing when to work hard and play hard is the key to keeping both your job and your off-time as rewarding as possible.