How To Avoid Ruining Your Christmas Break (A Post For Driven People)

So Christmas break (following your Christmas services) is almost here and you’re trying to take some time off.

Ever notice that’s what driven leaders say all the time?

I’m going to try to take two weeks off.

I’ll try to unplug.

I’m trying to relax.

We A-types suck at vacation, don’t we?

It also really sucks if you’re married to us. Or, we’re your parents.

How do I know this?

Because I’m one of you. I’m actually finishing this post at as we gear up for a big course launch heading into the New Year (the High Impact Leader comes back next week, and it’s designed to help driven people get their life and leadership back), and I’m planning a complete break for a few days before that.

So, I’m speaking my native tongue.

Being a driven kind of person, the idea of doing nothing but resting is unsettling for me.

But I also understand how important it is.

Sabbath is God’s idea. And, as I discovered when I burned out if you don’t take the Sabbath, the Sabbath will take you.

I know people who can take time off easily… they don’t worry, they’re never tempted to check email, they can easily shut down social media for a week, and they find a hammock to be relaxing.

That person is not me.  I think a few of you can relate.

What’s frustrating is that you hear people give advice all the time about powering down, not checking email, getting offline and just relaxing…vacation is easy for them. But not for some of us. 

Over the years, I’ve developed these 5 vacation rules that, if observed, make shutting off all the devices and truly taking a break easier. I’ve shared them before, but I have to come back to them again and again.

When I don’t follow them, I ruin my holiday. And I’ve done that a few times too.

Overall, the rules help me, as a driven person, relax better.

See if they help you.

 1. Prepare For Your Vacation, Don’t Just Take It 

I used to run into my holidays full speed, and it would take me half my holidays to unwind.

Take some time before your holiday to prepare for your holiday. Use your evenings to rest up before you leave.

Pack ahead of time. Build the anticipation. When I do this, I can start day one of vacation fully rested and ready to enjoy.

Last year for the first time, I took a week off before our family left for a week together, just to unwind alone and be ready for them when they were free. It helped.

 

2. Equip Your Team, And Yourself, For Your Break 

Leaving work behind is hard work.

I wasn’t good at this for years.  Now I spend time before leaving asking “what does my team need while I’m away so they can run optimally and so I can rest?”

Or this year, what do we ALL need to do so EVERYONE can have a full break?

If all of that is lined up, then they have what they need and I can get what I need: peace of mind, knowing everything will be okay.

The next step is even more important: let go.

If you do this right when you’re away, your ministry will grow even when you’re not engaged in it. I’ve taken a month off more than once. And when I truly release the team to do what they do best, our church has grown. Last year, when I was off for a month,  my podcast had the single biggest month in its history to that point (I lined up all the episodes before I left and gave my team the job of posting them).

You know what I learned? When you let go, things grow.

Early in my leadership, I never would have believed it. Now I do.

3.  Delegate Authority And Responsibility

While this is good practice all the time, make sure you leave behind real decisions, real authority and real responsibility.

My team can call the shots while I’m away. My assistant handles my email for my entire vacation.  If you don’t have an assistant, use an autoresponder and plan to spend your first or second day back sorting through email.

And if your assistant is off, everyone should just hit the auto-responder.

If you plan for it, you won’t worry about it while away.

 

4.  Find Out What Fuels You

Christmas break can be draining for anyone with all the gatherings, travel and people.

Smart leaders know what refuels them and decide to at least sneak in some time for themselves.

For some, that might be reading a book by the fire. For others, it might be movies and dinner. For others, it might be throwing parties and having a full house.

Everyone’s different.

Don’t let someone else’s idea of rest determine how you will rest, or you’ll end up returning to work exhausted.

That’s exactly how, so many times, you end up saying you need a vacation to recover from your vacation.

If you don’t know what fuels you, even your vacation can drain you.

5. Pick A Goal For Your Holidays

My drivenness can make me feel like I waste time while away. Obviously, one of my goals is to spend meaningful time with my family; I also use vacation time as a time to connect with God.

But I’ve learned if I pick some goals for my holidays, it makes me feel better and enjoy my time alone and with my family more. Your goal can be as simple as reading a few books, taking some pictures, or even a fitness goal.

Or it might be to sleep eight hours every night or hike for 10 miles.

I feel less restless and more rested if I set a few goals.

If you’re a driven person, maybe you can relate.

Do You Suck At Vacation?

How about you?  What vacation rules do you have?

Or do you just unplug and think A types are crazy?

I hope you have an incredible Christmas break! We’re back shortly after Christmas in this space to get ready for an incredible 2018.

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About the author


ChristianWeek Columnist

Carey Nieuwhof is founding pastor of Connexus Church north of Toronto and is author of several books, including his latest #1 best-selling work, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow. Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership, change and personal growth. He writes one of today’s most widely read church leadership blogs at careynieuwhof.com and hosts the top-rated Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews some of today’s best leaders.