29th August 2016
A lot has changed for me in the years since I began taking extended summer holidays. Leaving the corporate world last year, starting my own business and working for myself means no more paid holiday time; when I’m not working I’m not earning. So, continuing to take almost the entire month of August off from working has felt like an incredible luxury.
I’ve also had to totally rethink whether I would continue to completely switch off my devices and opt out of both social media and email while I was away from home. Because social media has become such an integral part of my life, both personally and professionally, and from a purely professional standpoint I may actually miss an opportunity for work if I don’t stay connected.
However, as I wrote in my last post, I decided that the value of disconnecting is, for me, worth far more than the risk of missing something. And, it turned out I had no choice anyways –I was on a boat in the Red Sea, 100 km from land, with no mobile or internet connection at all. Amazing, isn’t it? There are actually still places in this world where internet connectivity is simply not possible.
But can you imagine how stressed I would have been if I hadn’t already decided to switch off? There were people on the boat who were constantly checking to see if they had any mobile and internet connection (and getting frustrated in the process), as if there was something more interesting or important than the people, the experience, and the moment at hand.
What are holidays for, anyways? Because nothing takes the place of being totally in an experience like this one, completely unexpected, literally breath-taking and entirely mesmerising:
So, beyond this Oceanic White Tip shark and other undersea wonders, what happened in the world while I was switched off?
Well, life went on and nothing stopped without me. Nothing much really new was being talked about, no one suffered because I wasn’t around to engage in the conversation, and no one freaked out because I chose not to do business for a few weeks.
And this is what I learned:
Every so often we need to look up from our smartphones and tablets and other devices, and take a look at what’s actually happening right in front of us.
How much of life do we miss experiencing by being so engrossed in our social media feeds? Are we neglecting too much of what’s right in front of us by seeing so much of our world through the lens of our devices?
I found being disconnected so extremely restful that I wonder more people don’t do it. Like me, you may just be surprised and amazed by what you see and feel, and have an experience of such awe and beauty that it will stay with you for a long, long time.
And the bonus is that I’ve returned home and to work feeling utterly renewed, with a lot more energy and absolutely bursting with ideas and purpose. Well worth the disconnect I’d say.
Because surely it can’t be healthy, to feel that we have to be ‘on’ and connected all of the time.
Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.