How can I use my holiday to boost my career?

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It's great to get a break from work, but are there ways in which you can actually use your holiday to help boost your career? Here are some ideas:

Obviously, one of the great benefits of a holiday is that it gives you a chance to recharge your batteries. Don't under-estimate the importance of this. None of us can work at our best if we don't take regular breaks. No matter how busy your job, don't fall into the trap of thinking that you are indispensable and failing to take your holiday entitlement. Take time to relax, switch off and have fun. You'll come back to work refreshed, energetic and raring to go.

Your holiday is also an opportunity to take a more strategic look at where your career is going. Getting away from the day-to-day pressures is a great way of giving yourself the time and perspective to think about the bigger picture and your work/life balance. How much progress have you made at work since the last time you were on holiday? What has gone well and what not so well? How contented/challenged/excited have you been?

Use the opportunity that being in a different and relaxed environment offers to do a bit of planning. What aspects of your job would you like to change? What could you tweak that would make a real difference to your overall performance and satisfaction?

Holidays are also a great chance to do some blue sky thinking. Being right away from the office in a completely different environment can get you wondering what it would be like to do something completely different with your life. It's good to take time every now and again to focus on what you really want from your career – and your life – and how close you are to that ideal.

For example, if you could start your career all over again, what would you do? How realistic would it be to change direction? If you think it wouldn't be realistic at all – are you sure about that (i.e. have you done your research)? You owe it to yourself to have a career that really suits you, and holidays can be a great opportunity to re-assess. To help you, take along a couple of career or coaching books as well as your normal holiday reading.

Finally, what if you're not planning to take a summer break? If you're going to be in the office while other people are away, think about how you can use this to your best advantage. That could be anything from simply having a good clear-out of old files and paperwork, through to using other people's absence to see how other bits of the office work - for example by volunteering to cover for them.

If your industry tends to be quieter in the summer months, use that time prepare for when it all kicks off again. Re-organise, re-group and, even if you're not going away, give yourself some space to re-energise – perhaps by taking a couple of long weekends, or finishing early a couple of days a week.

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