This Holiday Season, Focus on You

relax-955798_1920.jpgAs a business owner, the holiday season can be overwhelming. With client demands at an all time high, staff vacations and strategic planning in the works for the next fiscal year, stress often pervades around this time. That’s why at this time, perhaps more than any other time, it’s important to take care of yourself and take time off from your business.

I’ve outlined below my top 3 tips for taking care of yourself over the holidays.

1) Do something you enjoy

Whether it’s volunteering, reading a book or playing one of your favourite sports, dedicate some time during the holidays to doing something that you love. It’s easy to forget about the world around us when we’re so immersed in our work, but you’ll appreciate the opportunity to rid yourself of work-related stress, even if it’s just for a few hours a day.

The holiday season is also a great time to spend some much needed quality time with your close friends and family members. Business owners are often so caught up in the day-to-day stresses of running a company that they often forget to make time for their loved ones.

2) Exercise

Physical activity is a great method for reducing stress. There are plenty of winter activities that incorporate exercise, such as skating, skiing, tobogganing, or even just a walk. Fresh air every now and again is important to your health, cold weather aside. If you prefer indoor activities, visit your local gym for a workout or swim. Your eyes will thank you for the much-needed break from paperwork, smartphones and laptops.

3) Rejuvenate

Even if it’s just an extra hour of sleep each morning, do something that will make you feel revitalized. A fresh mind means that you’ll be focused on making the right business decisions come 2017, possibly from a different perspective you may have previously had. Mindfulness is a practice that you may want to consider for rejuvenation, which also happens to improve decision-making.

Dedicating some “me” time for yourself during the holidays may seem easier said than done, but the benefits are simply undeniable. If you’re anxious about the impact time off would have on your customers, informing them about office closures and/or reduced hours during the holiday season may alleviate some of the worry you have about not focusing on the business.

How do you plan on getting some R&R this holiday season?


Warning for Business Travelers – What You Really Need Before You Leave the Country


Remember the old commercials for American Express Travelers Checks with Karl Malden, who coined the phrase, “American Express Travelers Checks don’t leave home without them?” The commercial was created to raise awareness about how important it is to protect ourselves against lost or stolen documents and money when traveling.

This commercial quickly came to mind when I discovered, in a recent trip to Australia, that my passport had been stolen. What was a planned short week’s stay soon became a logistical nightmare resulting in an unplanned extension of another 9 days!

As a Canadian business traveler that frequently travels abroad, I have made it a best practice to always keep a copy of my passport on my mobile phone for backup, just in case the worst happens and my passport is stolen.

Although this backup passport was a good idea and could cut off a couple of days in waiting time, it was not enough to save me. According to the Canadian government, I needed to have not one, but THREE pieces of ID in order for them to issue me a temporary passport that I could use to fly back home.

When I met with the Canadian Consulate in Australia, they specifically told me in order to get home I needed a temporary passport, but a temporary passport can only be issued if you submit a complete application for a new passport and this required:

  1. A photocopy of my passport
  2. Proof of Canadian citizenship (birth certificate or other)
  3. Proof of residence (drivers license, etc.)

Having my proof of residence and a passport copy was certainly helpful, in moving the process along, but like most of us, I do not carry my birth certificate with me when I travel and so I needed to get access to my birth certificate. Luckily I could ask my wife back in Canada to fax me a copy of my birth certificate – but what if she was not at home or we were traveling together? I would have been stuck in Australia (not that there is anything wrong with Australia of course).

Once I had all of the documents, I then had to arrange to have Canadian-approved passport pictures taken, which is not as straightforward as it might seem. Thereafter I had to submit my application for a new passport to the Canadian Consulate along with a request for a temporary passport for approval.

The entire ordeal meant I needed to prolong my stay in Australia by more than a week, as it takes 5 to 7 business days to issue a temporary passport. As a result, I had to make arrangements for a new flight ($1100) and book extra hotel nights ($600), as well as reschedule all of my meetings planned for the week (priceless)!

As difficult as the incident was for me in Australia, I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to try to accomplish all of this if I had been traveling in a country where the language was unfamiliar.

I share this story with all Canadian travelers, as this experience although harrowing, was a wake-up call for me. The experience was a warning to make sure you always have these 3 pieces of ID with you when traveling.

Were you aware that you needed these 3 pieces of ID to get a temporary passport? Have you ever been in a similar situation? What did you learn from it? I look forward to hearing your stories.