As a successful financial professional, you have chosen one of the most challenging professions in the world. Entrepreneur, financial authority and community leader are among the many hats you may wear on a daily basis. The work you do for your clients, family, self and community is vitally important. You owe yourself and your loved ones meaningful time away.
Here are my 9 tips for planning the best summer vacation ever:
1. Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your trip. One of the best ways to turn a peaceful vacation into a stress-producing activity is waiting too long to plan. Worrying about finding vacant hotel rooms and paying last minute prices for airline tickets is almost certain to raise your blood pressure. Plus, when you give yourself at least a few weeks to notice, you can more easily coordinate priorities and coverage with assistants, teammates or co-workers.
2. There is no such thing as “lost production”. In fact, I would argue that you gain productivity by taking time away. Burnout and exhaustion can be much more costly than time away from your business. Good planning and a well run team will keep you from missing a beat.
3. Watch out for the “long weekends” trap. Long weekends are great, but in my opinion a real vacation should be at least 9 days long, simply a week plus a weekend. It takes that long to truly get your mind away from business. Too often advisors tell me they can’t take a vacation, but to make up for it they’re planning several long weekends. This may work for some, but my advice is take the long weekends AND a long vacation. You deserve it!
4. You can do something spectacular or do nothing at all. We all relax in different ways at different times. Sometimes an exhilarating trip exploring faraway places is just the right medicine, while at other times a quiet week with great company and a good book is all you need. As you select your vacation destination, decide which alternative will have the most restorative power.
5. Money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness. A great vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. We often skip over destinations which are in close proximity to our homes in favor of more exotic locations. Rent a lake house within a few hours of your locale or visit tourist spots in your neighboring states. You may be surprised with the treasures you uncover.
6. Stay in the moment, enjoy your companions. My most memorable vacations have been highlighted by the quality of time spent with family and friends. A vacation should be time away from both work and the distractions of everyday life. When you are truly relaxed, rainy days at the beach playing board games with your kids can easily measure up to the awe-sharing moments of seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time.
7. Avoid email, telephones and the financial news. Your team, your clients, the financial markets and life in general will go on without you, so don’t try to be indispensable. Give an emergency number to someone who won’t abuse it and vacation with confidence. Leave your computer and smartphone at home. Sure, periodically checking voicemail and email may seem like a practical strategy to avoid post-vacation overload, but this routine will almost certainly infringe on your relaxation. (Bonus tip – Schedule the first day you’re back in the office as “catch up” day, no appointments or meetings.)
8. Send your ultimate clients a postcard. Several of my coaching clients have tried this idea and they are overwhelmed by the positive reaction they received from their clients.This should be the only “work” you do while you’re away. Simply pack a list with the names and addresses of your ultimate clients (along with postcard stamps) and send them a brief note from your first stop. You will be taking another step toward “Delivering the Ultimate Client Experience”.
9. Buy your teammates souvenirs. You should thank the folks who keep your business on track while you are vacationing. The more you can personalize the gift the better, but don’t be afraid to buy multiple copies of the same item. As they say, “it’s the thought that counts.”
Some of these ideas may make you nervous. But give them a try and you will have a vacation filled with unexpected pleasures. Have fun!