I just returned from a quick overnight camping trip with my son, Clay. He graduated college in May and has been busy working the last several weeks, so it was nice for the two of us to sneak in a two-day adventure.
We left Nashville at 10:00 a.m. and drove about 100 miles to the Stone Door Trailhead. Getting on the road late caused us to arrive at the trail around noon – not exactly starting strong. This meant that we started off on the 5+ mile hike to the campsite in the heat of the day. We reached camp a bit before 3 p.m. and set up our tent.
Intending to get a bit of work done, I pulled out my phone to check messages but there was no cell coverage in the area. So, I crawled into the tent to relax for a few minutes before Clay and I set out for a bit of exploration. We planned to walk to a waterfall – and I was hoping to get a cell signal along the way. But none of that happened. I fell asleep – fast asleep. I woke up at 7 p.m., ate a bit of food, and went back to bed until 6 a.m. the next morning.
I felt bad that I slept away a big chunk of our time together. I apologized to Clay, but he told me that I had nothing to apologize about explaining that he was happy to go to bed early himself (not 3:30 p.m. early, but early nonetheless). Clay said that I was obviously exhausted. He was right. I wasn’t sick, dehydrated, or injured. I was simply exhausted. The moment I was unplugged from the world, I crashed.
Why was I so exhausted?
Like many of you, I’ve had a lot going on.
- Webinar Woes: I taught two classes for Vanderbilt in June, both on Zoom. Under Covid conditions, that’s five days a week and four hours each day on Zoom calls.
- Daunting Deadlines: I’m in the process of a writing a book that is due to the publisher on August 1st. I would tell you how many pages I have left but my publisher subscribes to this newsletter.
- Success Struggles: We just launched our online 5-Week Leadership Challenge. It’s taken off like a rocket with more leaders than we imagined signing up for the challenge. We’re happy about this, but we’ve had to ramp up our workload to meet the increased demand.
- COVID Concerns: My wife and I just made a 14-hour, round-trip drive last weekend to visit her parents at their farm and my dad in Chicago. It was great to see everyone, but travel is always somewhat stressful and visiting older people in COVID times is stressful as you need to keep your distance.
- Household Happenings: My daughter, Alex, and her family have recently moved in with us as they wait to get into their home. When I say ‘her family’, I mean her husband, Kevin, and two dogs. A cute 9-pound Maltese and an equally cute, but sizeably larger 150-pound Great Dane. Our house is bursting at the seams.
Whether or not you are dealing with one or all of these stressors in your life, I bet you can create your own list of exhaust inducing issues. Maybe it’s time to unplug and give yourself a break. You don’t have to take a weeklong vacation or an overnight camping. Perhaps you need to make a better work from home routine. Maybe you just need to take a PTO day to turn off your cell phone, read a good book, and just put up your feet and relax. I know it can be hard – I was only able to relax because I couldn’t find a cell signal.
My point is this:
- Give yourself a break.
- Take care of yourself.
Those you love, those you lead, and your future self will thank you for it.
Now, go make it a great (and relaxing) day!
Photo from UnSplash
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.