The vacation story: Rethinking stress and business decision-making

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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