Q3 · 2014Summer is over – back to the grind ... right?

Hello everyone,

So how are you feeling after your summer break? Rejuvenated and fresh?

I can’t tell you how many times I recently have heard people say something along the lines of: “Summer vacation? It was great, but seems like ages ago.” Even though they just got back to work a few days earlier! We all know that the best holidays can feel short lived. Just like your summer tan, you try to hang onto that emotional glow, but after a couple of days back in the office, the daily grind presses on and the sunny days of vacation are a distant memory. Why is this? Why is it so hard to sustain that positive and refreshed feeling?

What I observe is that at the start of their holiday time, many managers and business leaders arrive completely depleted; after a grueling few months of giving 150% at work, the vacation becomes a necessary time to step away from the intense routine and restore their energy reserves, to regain perspective and slowly get back to a state of overall well-being. Extended time away from the office is when overworked professionals reconnect with friends and family, and give attention to those parts of life like hobbies and exercise that are often neglected when schedules are packed.

And then they get back to work, recharged and ready to work like crazy again. They put their heads down and dive back into the same routines as before. Three months later, despite the awareness of what it would take to keep up the positive feeling, they realize that they are once again running on empty. And so it is time to plan the next vacation…

Our clients, who I consider truly effective people, have an entirely different approach to their time off

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Vacation is one of the sources for recharging the batteries, but it’s not the only source. The highest performers I work with rely on rituals and good habits, like regular exercise, that support their high performance throughout the year; vacation is when they can do more of it. They stay connected with the most important people around them as a default, not just when they have a couple of weeks off. Vacation becomes the time to reflect on their good habits and routines, and fine-tune as needed.

Do you perceive and cultivate your proximate environment as a performance enhancing factor, which propels you to greater heights?

One of the components of my P6PROP® model for sustainable high performance is called “Perception”. Vacation can be a great moment to think more about who is in your inner circle, or “camp”: obviously this is your family, but I also mean friends, mentors, and trusted colleagues. They form the safe, trustworthy and stable environment around you that is a foundation of your ability for sustainable high performance. Why are the people in your “camp” so important? They keep you connected emotionally, and you can trust that they will give you honest and open feedback, the basis for long-term personal growth. When you are with them, you are not putting on your best face, or playing a role. You can completely be yourself, even when you are feeling stressed, uncertain or vulnerable. In these relationships, you feel at home, you have a deep sense of belonging and you can let go and be your authentic self.

Ask yourself who is in your camp. Define who is in this trusted circle, and for what reason.

Knowing who is in your camp, and why, will help you to prioritize them, and will fuel your commitment to keep these relationships strong and healthy.

Let me give you and example. Let’s say you have a weekly lunch date with a colleague you have known for a long time. Is this the kind of person with whom you could share an important concern or issue? Would you let them know not just about your successes but about your failures as well, without fear of judgment? When you get back to your desk, do you feel energized, unburdened, or that you have more clarity? Or are these lunches a weekly repeat of the same small talk, gossip and complaints, without much depth and substance?

Ask yourself what you have truly gained from this interaction, and from the relationship.

There is of course room for all types of interactions (and sometimes even friendships), in the professional context. I am not saying to suddenly cut people out of your life. But when you commit all of your time to the outer circle, you risk that you don’t have sufficient time for the people in your camp – your inner circle. You know how busy you are, so evaluate how you commit your time – and make sure that you invest enough of it with the people who support your personal growth. Be careful: Don’t take these relationships for granted. Cultivate them. Set aside time for them on a regular basis and establish rituals to keep stay connected. And be sure to reciprocate – when you are a person of trust for someone else, give more than you expect to receive. Honor them by sharing your time, listening, and offering your honest feedback just as they do for you. Be there for them.

Think of the time you invest with your camp as a good habit. Make sure that you are purposeful and mindful about keeping in touch as a regular action. Make the conscious decision to keep up the strong bond, not just when it is convenient or when time permits.

Don’t think of your next vacation as the time to recuperate from your busy life. Approach it as well-deserved time to reinforce all that you are already doing to achieve sustainable high performance.