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The importance of taking vacations

Don Tyler for Progressive Cattleman Published on 24 April 2019

Several years ago, I ran into a much younger friend of mine at a winter trade show and asked him what he’d been up to. “We just got back from skiing,” he said. When I asked where he went, he replied in a nonchalant manner, “The Alps.”

My mind immediately went to my childhood when my brother and I used to grab scoop shovels after we got chores done, head out behind the east barn next to the pasture and ride those shovels for hours down the snow-covered hills. Recreation comes in many forms and brings its own form of reward.

Getting some time away from our regular duties during difficult financial times is a struggle. We do all we can to reduce operating costs and justify every expense, so it’s hard to budget the time and money for a vacation or even schedule a few days off.

So why take a vacation anyway? Here are some important considerations:

  • Those around us may need a break, even though we feel like we can just soldier on. Our spouse and kids need a break from their regular routines, but our employees probably need a break from us – especially when we are experiencing difficult times.

  • Time away emphasizes the value of family over work and business.

  • Batteries often don’t show they are low on power until they’re nearly dead. We need to recharge our batteries, even if we feel like we’re doing fine.

  • Many of a family’s fondest memories are the time they share exploring new things, making new friends, and learning about places and people different from past experiences.

The time away

We often hesitate to take time off if finances are tight, but we might also be concerned about who will make sure livestock are cared for, what could go wrong while we are gone, or we feel there is too much work to do. People who regularly take time off have overcome those concerns by learning to trust their neighbors, employees or other family members to do the work and by realizing that taking time away renews their energy and passion to a level that compensates for their absence.

The money

Setting aside the money requires a budget based on the type of trip you want to take. Some creative ways to save up the money in tough financial times could include:

  • Every time you use a coupon, get a discount or realize other savings through rebates and refunds, put the amount you saved in an account. One of our neighbors did this during their first few years of farming and could afford to take a great vacation every year using this financial discipline.

  • Set aside any extra money that comes in for custom work, performing additional labor, selling old items, recycling, etc.

  • Have the family work together to do a project you might normally hire an outside contractor to do, then put those savings aside.

  • Look around the farmstead. Are there any old vehicles or pieces of equipment that haven’t been used for years – or have some sentimental value – that need to be sold? Sure, you could “restore” them someday, but how long have they been losing value, becoming harder to restore or simply no longer of any real value to you? Maybe someone else would love the opportunity; there will be more room in the machinery shed, and your farmstead will look better.

The planning

If finances are tight, you might need to be creative to maximize your family time and capture great memories. Think local. Realize that people from other parts of the country come to or through places near you to take their vacations. I remember sitting on the back deck of the farmhouse with Mom and Dad enjoying the view one evening during a visit, and Mom saying, “You know, we’ve been to a lot of places around the country, and there are lots of people who would pay $500 a day for this view.” She was right. We forget what we have in our own backyard.

Check out the local fishing holes rather than the one five hours away. What about that bed and breakfast you heard about? Maybe there are some seasonal events and attractions only a couple of hours away that you’ve wanted to visit. Take a hike, visit a park or zoo, play sports, take an “ice cream tour” of local towns, be a tourist to your own area of the state, plan a scavenger hunt with a theme your kids will enjoy, take a train ride, visit historical markers in your area or go to that place you’ve always been curious about.

One impulsive couple we know will do impromptu trips where they have a silly rule like “we can only make right turns,” which forces them to go places they would have missed and creates an adventure all its own.

Whatever your plan, be sure the whole family is involved. You may be surprised that your kids’ expectations are often basic and simple. In fact, when they share in the planning and know they will enjoy their choices, they are more motivated to pitch in and help with the budget by collecting recyclables, doing some extra work or selling some of their old stuff.

Their contribution will build expectations and enhance overall family camaraderie, team spirit, love and togetherness by working toward a common goal. They will also learn essential life lessons about overcoming challenges, working hard toward an objective and achieving success.

Never have I heard anyone say they regretted taking time off, or taking a family vacation, regardless of their financial circumstances at the time.  end mark

ILLUSTRATION: Illustration by Corey Lewis.

Don Tyler
  • Don Tyler

  • Founder
  • Tyler & Associates Management Coaching