Lessons Learned On My Vacation

vacation lessons

I’m still here!

Last week, I took a vacation with my wife’s family to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The vacation gave me the opportunity to enjoy time with my family, to enjoy relaxing on the beach and at the pool, and to enjoy being unplugged.

The WiFi where we were staying was terrible.  At first, I was kind of bummed.  I had hoped to do some writing while we were on vacation, and I planned to post on the blog (at least a few times) during the week.  Instead, I went an entire week without posting a thing on my blog.  I checked Facebook a few times, and I read a few of the blogs I follow.  Besides this, I took a vacation from the blog world.

Some would say this isn’t a smart idea.  In the past, I’ve scheduled posts or had people guest post in my absence.  This was an option I decided not to pursue this time around.  I’m not sure how it will impact my traffic.  In the short term, I’m sure it will have a negative impact.  In the long term, I think it may actually make a positive difference.

Without question, I believe it will improve the quality of my posts.  Blog experts say consistency is queen – meaning I should have posted through my vacation.  And they also say content is king.  If this is true, I’m excited to see how my week away will impact my blog.

We live in a day and age when most people struggle to disconnect from the world.  We have smart phones at our finger tips.  With a WiFi connection, we can connect with our laptops and tablets to the rest of the world.  All this connectivity has some positive perks:

  1. I can connect with almost anyone from around the world.  This means I have friends in Tennessee, Washington, Ukraine, Canada, Guatemala, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and many other places.  From this standpoint, the world has decreased in size.  I’m thankful for these friends.
  2. I can access information within seconds.  Google is a company, and it is also a verb.  If I want to know who won the Tour de France, I can google it, and I’ll have the information in seconds.  This provides a powerful learning tool for the curious.
  3. I can build my own platform.  Last year, I wrote and published my first book.  I hired an editor on-line.  I received help with my cover design.  And I launched the book following instructions I found on-line.  This time of connectivity provides all kinds of opportunities we probably couldn’t experience before the birth of the Internet (thanks Al Gore).

Unfortunately, it’s not all positive.  In this world of instant information access, we are faced with some major challenges:

  1. Our attention span is decreasing.  If you made it to this point in the post, you’ve already defied the odds.  I’ve heard on many podcasts that we are losing our ability to focus on things for a significant length of time.  Books are becoming shorter in an effort to keep the attention of readers.  Newspaper articles and on-line magazine articles are shrinking their average word count to keep up with popular blogs with average 300-600 words per post.  Headlines are not considered to be successful unless they can nicely fit into the 140 character Twitter limitation.
  2. Our ability to verbally connect face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) is being challenged.  My kids haven’t had to answer the “house phone”, because we don’t have a land line phone.  Kids are getting used to communicating through text messages, Instagram, and Snap Chat.  I interviewed several engineering candidates over the last year, and I am amazed by how few of these candidates are comfortable looking me in the eye and having a conversation.
  3. Our immediate relationships are being put on the back burner in exchange for face time with our cell phones and other technological gadgets.  We have a “No Phone At The Table” Rule to combat this problem in our house.  If you are talking to someone or spending time with someone, put your phone away and engage with the other people in your presence.

Vacation provided many great reminders for me.  I’m thankful for the chance to take a break.  I’m thankful for my family.  And I’m thankful for my friends (off-line and on-line).  As I head back into my “normal” routine this morning, I look forward to capitalizing on the connection I experienced while I was away, and I look forward to connecting with those I know on-line.

What are your vacation plans for the rest of the year?  How will you connect while you are away?  How has your connectivity positively and negatively impacted your life?