Finding My Voice Again – The Importance of Time Off

Leaf desert Australia

Before leaving on my most recent trip I felt burned out. Before you start laughing, hear me out. Yes, I love this strange job that I created out of nothing and yes, it is amazing in the opportunities it has afforded me. It is a job though and I keep a fairly intense publishing schedule, which means I’m always creating content and always thinking about what’s next. After four years that gets hard to keep up with any level of enthusiasm and I was worried it was starting to show. My passion for sharing travel hadn’t dissipated, far from it, but I was getting tired.

I needed a break and so I used my three weeks in Australia as the perfect excuse. I prepared posts in advance, scheduled them and vowed not to write or worry about writing for the duration of my trip. While I had a couple of moments when I strayed from this goal, for the most part I adhered to it and I am a much better person for it. I realized, not without a small amount of embarrassment, that the same advice I give to people all the time was something that I had ignored. We all need vacations.

I have long lamented the fact that Americans 1) only get a small amount of time off when compared to other Western nations and that 2) we don’t even use what is appropriated to us. Sure it’s cultural, but there’s also a reason why so many other industrialized countries insist that their workers take off at least a month ever year: it’s good for them. Giving people the time they need to rest and recharge almost always results in a more productive employee. Being more productive equals better work, which means more money and everyone is happy. There is a clear economic basis to taking time off in addition to cultural, and that is something we in America just can’t seem to understand.

I was telling a fellow American about a friend who just returned from five weeks off. The immediate American reaction was, “Well he must be doing something wrong if he wasn’t needed for five weeks.” This is just how our hard-working, Puritan brains have made us I’m afraid. Throughout our history this incredible work ethic has paid off, catapulting a young nation to the top in a relatively short period of time, historically speaking. But now I fear that it’s killing us and as the world gets more hectic and as we live longer and longer, our inability to relax will ultimately be what hurts our economy and our people, not help it.

But I digress. Ok, I digressed a lot. I needed a break and I got one and it was everything I thought it’d be. Yes, I was working for most of the time I was in Australia, but it was pleasant work. I was on a press trip and so I did what one does on such trips, but I purposefully avoided opening up Word on my Mac. The result was enjoying the destination in a way that is not always possible, of letting loose and just having a great time. You know, like you’re supposed to do on a trip. Somewhere in the middle of the Nullarbor Plains, as the Indian-Pacific train hurdled towards Adelaide I realized that I had reclaimed something I didn’t know I had momentarily misplaced – my voice.

No one needs a blog to find out the top 5 things to do in Paris. That’s been done, a long time ago. Instead I like to believe that folks come to this site and others because of how I share my experiences. People can relate to the fact that I’m a Gen-Xer leading a fairly normal life in the burbs and that I decided to make travel part of my life. I love sharing what I do with others and I hope people enjoy learning about new places around the world. That voice is important though, every writer has a unique cadence and style and for at least the last month or so, mine had disappeared. I was tired, I was harried and my voice was one of the first things to go. Australia gave it back to me though and I’ve never been so excited to put pen to paper (well, finger to keyboard) as I am now.

So if you find yourself in a similar predicament, uninspired no matter how much inspiration may be thrown your way, then it’s time to just stop. Stop, look around you and relax. Take some time off, do whatever it is that returns you to your happy place. Don’t think about anything else, do whatever it is that gives you your voice back and plan on doing it often. None of us are robots (but if you’re a cyborg I’d love to hear more) and we all need to take this time to re-center ourselves otherwise nothing we do will be worth much at all.

Has there been a time when you lost your voice? How did you find it again?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

6 thoughts on “Finding My Voice Again – The Importance of Time Off”

  1. Oh man I feel you on this. I’ve been feeling a little lost the past month or two and that has definitely shown in my writing. One thing i’ve been doing is not writing (or really working at all, or at least trying not to) on the weekends. I go to the beach, cook, watch crappy tv and try to give my mind a little time to decompress. I think it’s helping!

  2. Well said, Matt. While I don’t believe you lost your “voice” before you left for Australia, I completely understand the need for some time to rest, relax and recharge. I’m glad you took the time you needed and welcome your new blog posts now that you’re back.

  3. I agree, time off is important for our mental health. In America, that kind of health is unfortunately pushed aside. Good for you enjoying your time off.

  4. I have been feeling a little bit of this lately, too (though it isn’t because I have been posting too much). I feel like my inspiration is a little lacking because I haven’t been going as many places lately. Sure, I can write about places that I have been in the past, but I feel a lot more passionate about writing (and feel like I write better) when I am writing about a place that has recently inspired me. Glad to hear that you got your voice back, and that you are back in the saddle!

  5. I was really burnt out as a freelance travel writer, but somehow have never lost the enthusiasm for blogging. Maybe because I’m my own boss. I get antsy when I can’t write, even though I realize time off is essential. Balance. It’s always finding a balance. So let me get off the computer right now …. er, in a minute. Just want to check out one more article.

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