Feet up by a tree to show benefits of a Christmas break
Just a few days ‘til Christmas. Hurrah! The perfect chance to down tools and take a really good break from work, even if you’re not celebrating Christmas itself.
You will be taking one, right?
Your office is closed. Your colleagues are off.
But you plan to squeeze in some work because you’ve got so much to do?
I so get you. It really is tempting.
And – I have an invitation for you. If you have a genuine choice over whether you work over the holiday, please do yourself (and others, too) a huge favour and take some proper time time off.
There are a zillion benefits.

1. You get to look after yourself

I know how busy you are. The charity CEOs and mission-driven leaders I coach tell me that this has been a year like no other. They are on their knees. The pressure and stress has been off the scale and they’re wondering if they can keep going.
So, clearly, you all really, really need a break!
This holiday time is perfect for you to break the cycle of overwhelm and over-work and get some restorative rest and recuperation.

2. Your cause deserve you at your best

Cat with cucumbers on representing a Christmas break
I hear from some of the leaders I coach that they feel guilty about taking time off. But let’s turn that around. It’s not selfish to take time away from work – it’s vital.
The work you do is about as important as it gets.
Whether it’s leading campaigns to end homelessness, supporting women in West Africa in small businesses or lobbying on climate change, as some of my coaching clients are doing, your mission is far too critical to be done on empty. It needs your total focus and energy so you can lead others well and make the difference you know you can.
What use is a stressed-out, ground down leader with nothing else to give?
Your cause deserves the best of you.

3. You model good behaviour

As well as driving themselves into the ground, ‘always on’ leaders, aren’t doing their colleagues any favours, either.
You want to be encouraging a positive and thriving work culture where the whole team feels able to set and honour their own work boundaries. When you work though weekends, breaks and holidays, they will feel they should too. You need to lead the way.

4. January feels like a fresh start

Taking time-out gives yourself the head-space to start afresh in January with new oomph and enthusiasm.
One of the lovely things that happens when you’re not stuck in the details of day-to-day work, is that you give your brain a chance to work through things differently. Innovative and creative solutions to problems start popping up, apparently out of nowhere, and you can these new ideas into the new year.
It really can be a Happy New Year instead of more of the same old.
A woman writing on a white board to show the January benefits of a Christmas break

5. You get to have some fun

Christmas is one of the easiest times to take an all out break because so many others are off then too. There’s an understanding that priorities will be shifting.
This is the time to do some of the gorgeous things you enjoy and that make up the whole of you, not just your ‘job you’– spending time with people you love, cooking, dancing (if that’s your thing) getting out for wintry walks, sleeping in. Checking your emails ‘offers your distraction’ to your loved ones says Harvard professor Frances Frei (one of my favourite wise-women leaders). Is that what you want?
These are deeply restorative activities. You need them for life to feel rich and whole.

Over to you

So, I’ll be taking two weeks off this holiday-time. I hope I’ve convinced you to leave the laptop in its case, too. How about taking a moment now to think about how you can make that happen:
  • What do you need to have done before you stop work? (Can you be kind and allow some tasks to be ‘unfinished’?)
  • What exactly are your boundaries going to be?
  • Who needs to know your plans, at work and at home?
  • What do you need to ask for from them to support you?
  • How will you reward your success?

What next?

I’ll be inspiring and supporting more fabulous mission-driven leaders through my one-to-one coaching in 2024.
If you’d like to explore getting me on your side too, hit reply or email katie@katieduckworth.com. I’ll get back to you straightaway to set up a no-pressure chat. It’ll be great to talk.