As the end of the year draws near, one thing every professional who works at a PR agency has in common is an undying yearning for a vacation. We love what we do (and we are damn good at it), but the news cycle/media/social media is perpetually changing and therefore, we are perpetually working. Kind of like this:
Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait until the holidays for a vacation. Instead, I jumped on a 12-hour flight and headed off to Italy for two weeks of delicious food, sightseeing and far too many glasses of wine. While in flight, I gave myself the usual pep talk that comes with a vacation – “Try to enjoy yourself. Try not to work too much. Things in the office will be fine. But make sure that you check in several times a day. Did I bring my laptop charger? Do I have enough power adapters? Did I tell everyone I was leaving? Did I make that email introduction? When is dinner?” You get the point.
Having prepped myself for a trip in which I would fully enjoy myself and recharge my batteries, I landed on Italian soil and ventured out into the world of leisurely travel. As I toured the Colosseum, indulged in gelato, drove along the Amalfi Coast and sipped on champagne on a boat to Capri so many things were running through my mind. AND NONE OF THEM WERE WORK RELATED.
Or so I thought.
The truth of the matter is that when you love what you do, and when you are personally invested in it because you love it, work never ends. Not because it is a horrible life-sucking chore (although at times, it can feel like it), but because life affects work. And the better, more full and enlightened life is, the better your contribution to anyone or anything, including work, will be. With this notion in mind, and without further ado, I bring you some of the valuable work/life lessons learned from my Italian getaway.
- Rome wasn’t built in one day – This is written on many an inspirational quote meme and I’m sure on a barrage of mugs and things and so often times, it’s easy to forget how true it is. Especially when it comes to business. Walking through Rome and seeing the amazing accomplishments of Romans from 70-80 AD the first thing that comes to mind is not “Damn, it must have taken forever to build this.” Or “Man, I’m sure the people who constructed this were like REALLY tired.” No, walking among these relics of the past leaves you in awe. They are impressive and have withstood the test of time. People travel from all over the world to see them. They have survived anyone who had anything to do with their original construction. They are marvels and people do not know them for the rigor that was necessary to produce them. The same can be said for business. In the moment, there are challenges that arise that seem insurmountable. Each individual challenge, when looked at with a microscope, can seem too daunting, too hard to overcome. But when you look at the bigger picture (the “why”), your purpose becomes clearer and those obstacles that seemed too large in and of themselves become minor road bumps. Success takes time. Things rarely go as initially planned. But if you keep the long term goal in mind and in sight, anything is possible.
- Take time to enjoy your success – I’m not throwing any curve balls with this one, and it sounds way too simple. But when you go across the pond and realize that 2+ hour meals are not only a thing, but a mandatory thing, you gain a lot of perspective on how often we rush life here in the States. So often, people (including me) forget to stop and smell the roses. And what good is success (in business or in life) if you don’t take the time to actually enjoy it. While in Italy my meals ranged from 2-5 hours. During that time, we ate and drank (obviously) but more than that, we talked. We laughed. We took time to speak to each other as human beings as opposed to texting or @ replying as social media users. Upon leaving I made a promise to myself that, when possible, longer meals are my thing now.
- Drink more wine – Period. It improves/helps everything.