As summer draws to a close and vacations become the stuff of family memories and photos of beautiful sunsets and beaches, it’s important to let those feelings of peace and escape hang on in the backs of our minds as we return to the pace of our “real lives.” Cathy’s latest Knoxville News Sentinel article reveals how she handles a fast-paced lifestyle and offers her personal tips on how to re-charge.

It’s so easy for those of us who operate and work in fast-paced businesses to only dwell on the challenges of forging ahead, staying competitive, capturing new customers and motivating our troops to do bigger and better things every year. It’s obviously great – and necessary – to stay laser-focused on those strategies and activities that can make our businesses grow and be successful, but sometimes the very blinders that keep us focused on our mission and our challenges can also cause us to not be as open as we could be to the worlds of possibility that lie beyond the obvious.

One of the reasons that getting away from our businesses – and either becoming completely absorbed in a hobby or transported to a new and different place – is important is because of the deep and sometimes game-changing perspectives that come our way when we allow our usual disciplined minds to drift a bit. Admittedly, this is very difficult for me (most other business owners, I assume) to do, but when I occasionally allow myself the luxury of total escape from my wonderfully crazy world of work, I usually come back with some brand new ideas that never would have occurred to me if I hadn’t left the physical environs of my business and my everyday routine.

So, I’ve made a personal list of “vacation extenders” that are reminders of the value of a drifting mind and the importance of getaways, no matter how busy you are or how demanding your business is (by the way, if you wait to take time off until everything is neatly in place at your company, you never will!). Here are my tips:

  • First, choose a getaway or an activity that doesn’t easily allow you to think about work. You can go somewhere far away where the time zone itself takes you out-of-sync with your normal life. You can do something that is so deeply immersive that your mind has to become totally focused on it. You can spend time with family or friends who take you into their worlds – and out of yours – for a period of time. Or you can go to a place that is so beautiful or intriguing that by its very nature, it forces you to experience and explore it, and it makes you realize first-hand that there is more to life than just work.
  • Second, I like to keep trip journals and record not only the obvious activities of a particular trip, but also the smaller nuances that make it special to me – actual feelings I had when viewing an amazing sunrise, climbing a mountain, hiking in a forest, walking on a beach, visiting a fascinating museum or meeting a unique person. Then, when I later review my (precious) journals, those detailed, emotional narratives can take me back to those special moments.
  • Although re-entry, especially after a lengthy trip, can be difficult, and my tendency is to quickly dive back in and start catching up on what I missed, I try to have the discipline to make note of those mind-expanding, wonderful thoughts I had while relaxing beside a river or sitting on a mountain top – before they go away in the hustle and bustle of my regular life.
  • Finally, I am a person who needs to have my next trip or vacation in my mind almost as soon as I return home from one – even if it is just a weekend retreat or a family get-together. I have found that thinking about a future adventure or fun time helps me to stay longer in that moment of relaxation and open-mindedness that getaways always provide.

I hope your summer has given you some opportunities to refresh and re-charge and to realize that taking an occasional deep breath can be good for your mind, your body AND your business.