I recently returned from a mini-vacation to Sayulita, Mexico, a small beach town just north of Puerto Vallarta. I spent 5 days away from my gadgets. No cell service and very limited WiFi access. This would be my nightmare; or so I initially thought. While I was away from the technology I am dialed into 24/7, I had a very profound realization – we need to plug-in to un-plug.
I do not mean we literally jump on our devices to unwind, but rather what we work so diligently for each day is to spend those 5 days away. Away from emails, texts, tweets, check-ins, wall posts and every other ‘ping’ that hits us on a daily basis. The lines between work, friends and personal branding are grayed more than ever, especially for business owners, and we can be found plugged into our devices ALL day. So what is it like when you no longer have access?
Much to my surprise… It is amazing!
We landed in Puerto Vallarta, only a two hour flight from the states, to find all my high tech devices rendered useless. I carried a briefcase with my iPhone, iPad and Mac Book Pro a.k.a. my three best inanimate friends. They were now about as useful as having an Atari system with me. I sat in the taxi headed to the fairly remote town of Sayulita and suddenly began to twitch. Don’t judge me, you know the feeling. Your battery dies halfway during a night out and you feel like a little piece of you died. Oh the withdrawals.
We arrived at the rental house and thankfully they had WiFi. I fired up my phone, checked my messages and put out the fires. Sweet rush of connectivity! There was one issue. WiFi was spotty and only in one section of the 5-story home we were staying in. I know it seems lazy, but it was quite a process to do anything online. A process that slowly began to fade away and become less necessary. Now I could really relax and start to disconnect a bit.
By the afternoon of day 2 after eating local fare, surfing, and looking at some of the most beautiful views I had ever seen, I didn’t even think about my phone, network or what data may be steaming in the background. I think the devil on my shoulder who typically wanted me to plug-in was sitting next to me on the beach decompressing and sipping a very strong tequila drink right along with me.
The most enlightening part of this whole experience (as it was the first time in my entire life I had taken what I now know to be a true vacation) was landing back in the U.S., firing up my phone and realizing that none of it was as critical as I had originally thought. Certainly, some of the emails, texts, tweets had a shelf life and needed to be taken care of, but the world didn’t stop for me to take it all in for a little while. Everything kept moving without me and I was embraced back into the fold when I returned as if I never had left. Although very humbling, it also reminded me that it is okay to be present, to be in the moment and enjoy experiences for what they are, un-plugged. Believe me, if you pre-plan, your network and clients will be supportive. Take the time to enjoy the reward of hard work by letting it go for 5 days, or however many you can find. I did and can say I came out on the other side refreshed, rejuvenated, loving what I do for a living and ready to plug back in; all so I can un-plug again someday.