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Jun 25

Invest Two Days a Year in Yourself

Richard Warner

We’re serious about our careers. One in four Americans works 50+ hours a week. By the end of this year, the typical worker will end up with nine unused days of vacation.

So if we’re working so hard, are we taking any time to consider how our lives — not just our careers — are going? I mean, let’s face it, the clock is ticking. Are you living your life to the fullest? How has your definition of “fullest” evolved? And if you’re working all the time, are you really paying attention to how it’s evolving?

This came up in a recent conversation with Dave Peterson, the founder of Atlanta’s North Highland consulting firm. With 500 employees around the country, North Highland is incredibly successful. So you might think Dave is content all the time.

Not so.

Some years back, he read a book called “Leap of Strength” that changed his life. In the book, author Walt Sutton lays out the framework for an annual two-day personal retreat…taken ALONE. No checking email or answering the phone during the day. No TV.

It’s not a vacation. It’s an exercise away from friends, family and the office that requires focus and deliberation. What do you want to do in the next five years? Are you giving and getting what you need from your personal relationships? A financial review: what do you really have? Are you taking care of yourself physically?

Most years, Dave headed to a home at Lake Lanier for his two-day introspection. Other years, he extended his vacation by two days.
By the end of the two days, Dave always comes home with a revised set of priorities. Sometimes it’s all good and sometimes he has to make tough decisions. This most recent year, his priority was to get in better shape — which may have saved his life after an accident several months later.

As author Steven Covey says, it’s a tragedy to climb the ladder of success “only to discover the ladder is against the wrong building.”

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