Have you been putting off your vacation because you just have too much to do in your small business? Maybe you should rethink that because vacations can provide health benefits, boost productivity, improve happiness, and increase your creativity. But it must be an exceptionally good vacation, the right kind. That said, you might think that referring to business lifestyle means that the small business person must take a working vacation if you take one at all.
That’s what Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. in her article “Can Your Relationship Survive Your Next Vacation?” calls a ‘workation.’ Instead, having a ‘business lifestyle’ to me means that you live for more than your business, that you live to experience life more fully.
True, as a small business person or entrepreneur, your business is in many ways you. Nevertheless, a business lifestyle means that while you are relaxing on your vacation and enjoying activities with your loved ones, you are constantly aware of new insights and new opportunities that you can later capitalize on with your business.
Six benefits of going on a vacation
My favorite example of travel providing inspiration comes from the M&M candy empire which started out with the invention of Forrest Mars, Sr. Wikipedia reports, he “copied the idea for the candy in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War when he saw soldiers eating British-made Smarties, chocolate pellets with a colored shell of … hard panning (essentially hardened sugar syrup) surrounding the outside, preventing the candies from melting. Mars received a patent for his own process on March 3, 1941.”
You might also find inspiration on the Carnival Cruise Line’s “Behind the Fun” Tour in which you get to go behind the scenes to observe how the Fun Ships deliver your fun. I described this tour in “Behind the Fun Provides Business Insights.”
Likewise, you might get ideas for expanding your business’ offerings by observing how an expert handles upsells. In Carnival Cruise Shows How to Sell More without Hardly Selling, I shared some of the upsells on the Carnival Miracle.
Travel improves your heart health
In “5 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Traveling Abroad,” Larry Alton reported that “According to a joint study from the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association, traveling actually keeps you healthier. The study found that women who vacation at least twice a year show a significantly lower risk of suffering a heart attack than those who only travel every six years or so.
“The same is true for men. Men who do not take an annual vacation show a 20 percent higher risk of death and 30 percent greater risk of heart disease.”
Travel reduces stress
Numerous studies show that travel reduces stress. For example, Lolly Daskal in “4 Scientific Reasons Vacations Are Good for Your Health” wrote that “A study released last year by the American Psychological Association concluded that vacations work to reduce stress by removing people from the activities and environments that they associate with stress and anxiety. Similarly, a Canadian study of nearly 900 lawyers found that taking vacations helps alleviate job stress. The effects last beyond the duration of the vacation, too: A small study from the University of Vienna found that after taking time off from work, vacationers had fewer stress-related physical complaints such as headaches, backaches, and heart irregularities, and they still felt better five weeks later. “
Travel increases satisfaction and happiness
Larry Alton, in his list of “5 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Traveling Abroad,” cited a Cornell University study’s report “that people also experience a direct increase in happiness from just planning a trip.
“Three days after taking a vacation, travelers report feeling less anxious, more rested and in a better mood.
“The study found that the anticipation of taking a vacation is far greater than the anticipation of acquiring a physical possession. Thus, the benefits of traveling abroad begin well before the trip does.”
In my personal experience, the memories from a vacation are more likely to be longer lasting than the enjoyment of that physical possession unless it has some emotional connection.
Travel reduces depression
In the Health Net® article, “Road Trip! Health Net Points Out the Health Benefits of Vacations,” they referenced “A study conducted by Marshfield Clinic of 1,500 women in rural Wisconsin determined that those who vacationed less often than once every two years were more likely to suffer from depression and increased stress than women who took vacations at least twice a year. Similarly, the University of Pittsburgh's Mind Body Center surveyed some 1,400 individuals and found that leisure activities – including taking vacations – contributed to higher positive emotional levels and less depression. The benefits of vacationing also extended to lower blood pressure and smaller waistlines.”
Improved productivity & other business metrics
Further, in the same article, Health Net brought up that the “Boston Consulting Group’s research ‘found that high-level professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive overall than those who spent more time working.’”
This is further supported by Shawn Achor in “Are the People Who Take Vacations the Ones Who Get Promoted?” where he referenced a study he cited in his book The Happiness Advantage. He shared that “when the brain can think positively, productivity improves by 31%, sales increase by 37%, and creativity and revenues can triple.” Further, “To be truly engaged at work, your brain needs periodic breaks to gain fresh perspective and energy.”
I often talk about the importance of having a business lifestyle by which I mean that loving what you do isn’t enough. You need to get away and experience more than your little domain, your industry. Obviously, you also need to refresh and recharge so that you hit it again more productively.
Mere time off is not enough to improve happiness and boost energy
However, both Achor and numerous other sources point out that merely taking time off from work is not enough to provide the positive levels of happiness and energy that can come from a good, well planned vacation. In fact, he reports that “In a study of over 400 travelers from around the world, Michelle Gielan from the Institute for Applied Positive Research and I found a strong negative correlation between travel stress and happiness. However, we also found that 94% of vacations result in higher levels of happiness and energy if you 1) plan a month in advance and prepare your coworkers for your time away, 2) go outside your city (the further the better), 3) met with a local host or other knowledgeable guide at the location, and 4) have the travel details set before going.”
By including vacations in your business lifestyle, you will experience at least six benefits to improve both your life and your business: inspiration, better heart health, less stress, more satisfaction and happiness, less depression, and more productivity as well as other improved business metrics. However, time off is not enough. You need to take the right kind of vacation.
If you are like most of the 175 small businesses I consulted, you may be avoiding taking a vacation because you have too much to do. Ironically, by getting away, you may return refreshed, inspired, and more productive. These six benefits of adding vacations to your business lifestyle can be yours too. Just plan it in advance, truly get away from home, have someone knowledgeable help, and have the travel details in hand when you go.
Open your life to experience more through travel,
John R. Aberle, Aberle Enterprises
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