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Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Is there such a thing as a 'real vacation'

August 09. 2014 9:29PM

WHEN I think of taking a vacation, the first thing that comes to mind is what I'm going to miss while I'm away. It's hard to fathom being completely disconnected from work for a week or more. It just doesn't sound feasible.

I'm not sure if my situation is unique, but when I think about not being connected to work for an extended period of time, I get nervous. I think about all of the issues that may arise that require my involvement. And I think of the missed opportunities that may happen as a result of my absence.

I'm embarrassed to say I am not good at disconnecting from work. I can't tell you the last time I went more than a day without checking email. I suppose technology has created this environment for all of us, but in a way, it's our own doing.

Working hard and doing everything you can to succeed is woven into the DNA of most business people I know. But is there value in completely disconnecting and dedicating time to spend with your family and yourself to decompress? I think I may be on to something.

I'm a big believer that things happen for a reason. This past February, I was on a flight home from Florida. I happened to be seated next to a couple who was returning from Florida to their home in Maine.

As we began to talk, I learned that their home was a camp they own in Princeton, Maine, called Long Lake Camps. Princeton is a small town a few miles from the border of New Brunswick, Canada. It's a 5 1/2-hour drive from Manchester and likely a place most readers have never been.

After continuing the discussion with my new friends on the airplane, I learned that cell phones don't work at their camp in Maine and that there is no Internet access. I was in shock. Is this even possible in today's world? The answer is yes.

Their camp consists of several cabins that are situated on Long Lake. It's a pristine area, nearly untouched by developers and society. As we departed the plane, I asked for their business card, and they handed me a brochure with details about their camp.

After doing a lot of research, I quickly determined this was a place I had to visit. What are the chances of sitting next to the owners of a hidden paradise I had never heard of? I believe it was fate, and I needed to experience it.

I spoke to my wife, and we made the decision to book our summer vacation at Long Lake Camps. My youngest daughter has a passion for fishing and the outdoors, so we thought this would be perfect for all of us. I was thrilled to call the owners and tell them of our decision, and they were equally as enthusiastic to learn we'd be visiting.

So here we go. We're headed to the middle of nowhere to spend a week completely disconnected from reality and spend true quality time together as a family. If I said I wasn't apprehensive about being unable to check in on work, I'd be lying.

However, I'm looking forward to this experience and can't remember the last time I was truly able to disconnect, get away and take my mind completely away from the day to day I have become so accustomed to experiencing.

The more I think about, the more I realize that everything I am leaving for this short period of time will be waiting for me when I return. Business will go on and life will go on. But at least I'll have the opportunity to experience something I've never experienced before. Wish me luck.

Christopher Thompson ( writes Closing the Deal weekly. He is the vice president of sales and services for leadership solutions at Skillsoft, a Nashua-based provider of learning solutions. Visit Skillsoft at

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