As summer approaches, you might be deciding if you have the time or money for a vacation. Americans have been taking fewer vacation days.
At one time Americans used their vacation days, according to research by Project: Time Off. We took an average of 20.3 days a year right up until the turn of the century. That’s when the findings reveal a sharp drop off of about 4 days. Project: Time Off worries the loss may be a permanent reduction in vacation.
2015 was a typical year. Americans left 658 million vacation days unused and “lost 222 million of them,” according to Project: Time Off. “Those days cannot be rolled over, paid out, or banked for any other benefit—they are purely lost.”
Several years ago, I found myself in the same boat.
I had scheduled a short time away at a lodge in British Columbia at the invitation of my friends Bob and Maria Goff. But there was tons of work to complete and only so much time. Then a week before leaving I found out we would have neither cell phone service nor Internet access.
“No way,” I thought. “I cannot be offline right now. I have too much going on.” But I reluctantly went along with it, and I’m forever glad I did.
In just a few days it helped to change how I think about vacations as a time of rejuvenation. Afterward, I identified five elements that made it so amazing. These represent five ways anyone can get away and reboot their soul.
- I went someplace beautiful. Bob and Maria Goff’s lodge is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. There is also something about being in the great outdoors that connects you more directly to God and to your place in his world. It provided me with much-needed perspective.
I was fully present. The Internet and cellphone fast turned out to be exactly what I needed. It allowed be to be fully immersed in the experience without the temptation to be somewhere other than where I was.
I had deep conversations. I don’t naturally seek out people I don’t know. Here I was in the wilderness with twenty people, most of whom I didn’t know—at all. Yet, I found endless delight in hearing their stories, comparing notes, and crying when I left them to come home.
We spent time alone. The retreat had the perfect balance between structure and spontaneity, group time and alone time. My friend Don Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz was there. Periodically, Don shared with us his thoughts and then asked us to spend some time on our own reflecting on a specific question. I prayed, wrote in my journal, and just enjoyed being.
I had an adventure. The first afternoon, Bob Goff took us to Chatterbox Falls, located at the end of Princess Louisa Inlet. We squeezed behind the waterfall, in the slim corridor between the solid rock wall and the falling water. The sound was deafening and the water was freezing. At Bob’s prompting, we walked through the falls, feeling the full force of the water as it pummeled us from above. The experience was exhilarating!
Unplug and Reboot Your Soul
My time at the lodge wasn’t long—only two-and-a-half days. But I learned from the experience the importance of getting away from it all and unplugging to reboot my soul.
Now, every year Gail and I take a solid month off and we weave all five elements of that lodge experience into our holidays. I can’t wait to get away later this summer.
You might not be able to manage a full month off. But I bet you can take more time off than you think. I urge you to take time, unplug, really get away from it all and have an adventure.
It will rejuvenate you, and you’ll come back stronger than ever.