March 20, 2019
The emails are piling up. Your voicemail light is blinking at you. Here’s my story of why I took the day off work to go fishing – and you should too.
I work in an office five days a week, eight hours a day. My boss is nice; my co-workers are pleasant. I manage a department of six people who look to me to schedule their hours, troubleshoot problems, and generally keep things running smoothly. There isn’t anything here that can fall apart in a day. Nothing I – or my coworkers – can do to make the whole thing implode.
So I decided to take the day off from work. I really love fishing, and wanted to get out of the office – not because things were bad and I was trying to escape. Quite the opposite, actually. My department is doing good, well above projections for this quarter. I double checked with my boss that I could take a day, and on a random Tuesday I went fishing with a professional Bass Guide in Kissimmee, Florida. And my day on the water was actually a really productive day; here’s why:
I know some days at the office are all about pushing papers or marking off to-do items, but another part of my job is to THINK. Brain power is essential, and sometimes having the space and time to think about problems, or creative solutions, is important. On the boat ride to the fishing spot, and as the line was in the water, my mind was able to wander and think about an upcoming event. I know it’s odd to think that my job is to THINK – but sometimes it is. And bass fishing for a day gave me the opportunity I needed to have the space and time to do just that.
I won’t lie – I didn’t go fishing alone. Sure, I had my professional guide showing giving me pointers and tips on setting the hook. But I also took along a friend who also enjoys fishing. Call it a mental health day if you want – but just spending time with a good buddy doing something we both enjoy was just what I needed for a great day. And it turned out that an issue he’s having trouble with was similar to something I was experiencing. We commiserated for a bit before he landed a monster 8 pound bass. We quickly forgot about our problems, they weren’t that easily solved, but it was nice for a moment to realize I wasn’t alone in facing complications.
Anyone who tells you that “fishing is relaxing,” has never been fishing. It’s real work. With real results. Either you’re reeling in a fish, or an empty hook – or worse, a broken line. It reminded me that the effort you put in doesn’t always bring the return that you desire. This can easily be said for a work situation if you think about it. That project you’ve been working really hard on for the past month? Nope – cancelled. “But thank you for all your work…”. I can see the fish thinking the same thing as he swims away with my bait. For me, fishing is the best metaphor for work: sometimes you’re reeling in a big fish, and other times you’re going home empty handed. But you still get up the next day and try again.
While I was on the water fishing for bass, my co-workers were covering for me. I found out afterwards that there was an impromptu meeting called – and so someone else had to handle it. And you know what happened – they stepped up. They were given an opportunity to sit in on something they normally wouldn’t have, they asked great questions, and they helped come up with a solution. I know sometimes we can be territorial at work, but honestly it made me really happy to have that particular situation off my plate. They could handle the problem, it gives them more responsibility, and they are more invested in the team and company. None of that would have happened if I had been in the office.
The next day in the office wasn’t as much fun as the day on the water – but it was certainly better than any day before fishing. The stories I was telling of that monster bass, and the other three that got away, was great to connect with my coworkers. And I was still on the high of a great day on the water – already planning on the next time I could go (which turned out to be the next weekend). And when I learned about my coworker stepping up, I realized maybe a few extra days out of the office wasn’t such a bad idea!
If you’re still reading this and haven’t yet called in to work – I can’t urge you enough to call your boss. Make sure it’s a day where nothing else is going on, obviously don’t call in when a big project is due or an event is happening. And hiring a professional guide was definitely the way to go. I was able to show up empty handed (my buddy brought his favorite rod, but that was it), and our guide took care of the rest. It was the best business decision I made all year, and I highly recommend you take a day off work to go fishing too!
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