The vacation story: Rethinking stress and business decision-making

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ladies lingerie maputo
The ladies lingerie section of the Maputo Mozambique street market

Well designed vacations combine freedom from stress and new stresses. If you elect to go the all-inclusive cruise route, your concept of managing problems reaches the trivial level; but you can quickly be jarred out of your complacency by leaving the hermetic seal and entering the real community outside (especially in the third world.)

Meanwhile, with world-wide Internet connections, you aren’t far away from the stresses at home; and in any case I think only a fool would say it can truly relieve stress to cut off all contact and information with your home — the anxiety of ‘not knowing’ can be greater than the truth. Nevertheless, if you don’t take a break and separate yourself from home then you really aren’t on a vacation, after all.

The result so far: As we prepare to explore Durban, South Africa, I have a general view of my business’s health and operations back in Canada. I can see the finances, the data, and sales achievements. The annual Christmas season slow-down is approaching. All appears to be generally okay.

Preparation for the vacation allowed me to knock off several hours a week in routine work — I expect that break will continue after I return home. Blog writing (previously daily) has dropped to one or two posts per week. I expect this schedule will return to a higher frequency. I decided to skip the weekly operational meetings in part because, while Internet is free, phone links are relatively difficult to maintain. But I also wanted to skip the meetings to give room for a key employee to lead them, and, well to escape the rigours of work to “vacate”.

As for vacation stress, so far the worst has been a brief run-in with a couple of Mozambique police officers demanding our passports — impossible to fulfill because the ship was holding them. We held firm (courteously) and were allowed to leave. Last night, I discovered that I had managed to leave a day’s gap in our vacation accommodation planning. Without some quick remedial action, we would be homeless for a night in Cape Town, South Africa. (The Internet helped by allowing me to quickly set a reservation for the missing day.)

Vacations are a good test of your business — if it can continue without your being around, you are in much better shape than if you cannot even think of taking a break.

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