We all know the benefits of a holiday or vacation; relaxation, a break from the everyday, and time to recharge. These are some of the key reasons we look forward to and enjoy our vacation time – for the excitement and anticipation leading up to the holiday, the fun and relaxation whilst away and then the enjoyable memories upon our return.
Indeed many of us find that longer breaks from work, such as summer holidays or vacations are ideal times to consider our career path. It’s at these times, when we are removed from our day-to-day working requirements, that we feel free to explore our current career, our satisfaction with it and contemplate whether a change might desirable.
But what about the benefits that can be found from taking a shorter break? Can just a few days, such as a weekend away, provide similar benefits?
Most of us would think of a weekend away as time for some needed relaxation, a break in our routine, or a bit of fun. Some of us might even recall the phrase ‘mini-break’ made famous by Bridget Jones!
Whilst a mini-break has certain connotations, a weekend away can also be an investment in yourself, your well-being and your career satisfaction.
This may all sound a bit heavy, but there is no reason you can’t ponder your career choices whilst relaxing poolside (with or without drink in hand!), hiking in the mountains, wandering through galleries or basking on the beach (all of which are common weekend away activities).
I’d like to share with you how with a bit of planning, intention and action, a weekend away can be a worthwhile career investment.
Three phase approach
Phase 1: Before - Intention
When you are planning your weekend away, as well as the usual preparation of who you’ll be with, where to go, what you might want do, add to your plans by preparing for a mental break too.
Think about what you want from your weekend away. This is your intention for the weekend.
Whilst ‘have fun’ is a great intention, what we are talking about here is using your weekend away to help your career. So, instead, write down a couple of key questions or challenges you wish to explore. These questions or challenges can relate to your career, but they could equally relate to any other aspect of your life.
Pop those questions inside your overnight case or in your toiletries bag; somewhere you will see them. Once you’ve done this initial preparation, these questions will travel with you and be in the back of your mind during your weekend away.
Pack a notebook/journal and pen, or some other method for recording any insights.
Phase 2: During - Present
There is plenty to be enjoyed and amazed at when you are away for a weekend.
During the weekend, be present in the moment as much as possible. Record (on paper or in your smartphone) any observations, associations or experiences. Snap a photo if that helps.
Perhaps it is an unusual conversation with a friend, a beautifully decorated hotel room, the view from your accommodation, a striking piece of architecture or the wonder of feeling the sand between your toes… There is plenty to be enjoyed and relished when you are away from your regular routine.
Capture these experiences, observations and associations either whilst you are in the moment, or shortly afterwards, before the memory fades.
If you find inspiration has struck and there are new ideas about your particular challenge or question coming thick and fast; capture them. Jot them down in your notebook, use your smart phone to document them; whatever works best for you. You can choose to dive into the ideas or leave them for when you return. It’s your choice – it’s your weekend away after all!
Most importantly, be present and enjoy the break from your routine.
Phase 3: After - Reflect and Connect
Generally, the insights we’ve had on a weekend away get forgotten once we are back into our daily lives. However, your notes will help you! Once you are back in your usual weekly routine, read through your notes carefully. What may have seemed obvious whilst you were away over the weekend could be a valuable piece of information once you are back home. Read through them and make connections. Feel free to grab a highlighter or coloured pens if this will help you make more sense of your observations and experiences.
The aim now is to connect with what you have learned and take action (genuine action) to make a difference in your career or life, based on the particular challenges you were exploring before you left.
The key to making your weekend away a worthwhile career investment is taking time to reflect and connect.
As you review your notes, you may find that the relaxed, deeply engaging conversation you had over drinks on Saturday evening highlights how much you value personal connection, which you now realise has been missing in your current work.
Or, the sheer beauty and silence of the forest reminds you that you love spending time outdoors, yet to date have been pursuing a desk-based career path.
And so, this three-phase approach to a weekend away can be a gentle nudge to reassess and support change in your career.
It’s not unusual to find the short break provides some clarity on your challenge or question. Less common is to have a fully formed, revised career plan after a weekend away, but it can happen!
For the majority of us, a weekend away is a break from the routine and a chance to recharge. And that can be more than enough! But if you are keen to tackle a career challenge, this three-phase approach can help you look at your career from a new perspective.
Whilst a weekend away can be useful to explore a career challenge, another way to get a different perspective on your career is to work with a Certified Career and Life Coach (that’s me!). One of the (many) benefits of working with a Career and Life Coach is having a trusted expert to support and guide you to make informed decisions about your career decisions. Book your complimentary consult today to learn more.