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3 Lessons From Our Vacation Experiment at The Burnout Clinic

A Company Wide Four Week Holiday

Welcome Back and Hello 2020!

So we did a social and company experiment that we plan on improving, tweaking and measuring the benefits around a very important cultural element...


It's no secret that vacations play a deep and big role in our organization because it's designed right into our flag ship service offering: Therapy Vacations and Burnout Retreats.

Now, what we didn't want to do was not align what we believe in, who we are and what we do with just our clients, but we want to ensure that the narrative crosses with our team too.

Employees first, customers second, share-holders third - in that order, is a belief we work by.

(Having worked at a Richard Branson Virgin Group culture, it was quite game-changing for me and that's why I loved working there during their early stage startup phase)

Our Mission at The Burnout Clinic: To redefine the workplace as a vital community to empower humanity

So our "vacation policy" isn't just about our team members, it's with our company as a whole.

The entire month of December is on vacation.

Now granted we are still an early stage start up - it gives us the freedom to experiment and as we scale with the lessons we learn now, and how it will benefit us in fold as we grow.

Here are some of my learning lessons observing the process:

1. It wasn't that easy to "shut down" - at least mentally:

My business partner and wife was able to take time off. She used that time to dedicate herself to self care, catching up with friends, spending time with the family and most importantly... focusing on our wedding ceremony in the next few months, and actually getting married legally back home in Toronto.

We worked on ways to deepen and improve our relationship. (that had both ups and downs)

However, as much as I witnessed her - I was still obsessing with the business.

Honestly, I love what I do and in fact, I love focusing on my work because it doesn't feel like work... I truly believe it's not just my calling - it's also "God's" work...

While I had a chance to catch up with friends and family, relax, play some video games for me (yes after I don't remember how many years... possibly over 15 years!), fit in a Magic The Gathering meet up, read books...

I also ended up on my spare time:

  • Getting certified in Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapy
  • Finished our TBC 2020 catalog brochure
  • Brought in an AMAZING collaboration with as a mental health platform to build our community of change and social impact
  • Created and deployed a chat bot for our website
  • Overcoming shingles :(
  • Moved forward with our next Burnout Retreat location and program integration with a resort in Thailand
  • Updated parts of the website
  • Laid out the groundwork for our Burnout Relief line...
  • Took in 2 breakthrough sessions and had to turn down 2 more

All I really did was turn off my marketing and communications to the outside world, which some I'd probably need to automate anyways to keep the momentum going on the Internet. (and whoops, I should have put an out of office to let people know... forgive me for my empty social media feeds, my emails pile up and my insanely long list of LI messages and hundreds of connection invites for me to review and accept)

The good news... I focused on what energized me and trying to "turn it off" took some adjustment.

Lesson #1: 

Further automation and technology to take care of more administrative tasks. A preparation kit to help our People wind down, sign off, set their out of office communications, review the year, set their goals and transition them into self-care goals and creating more meaningful personal time.

2. Recognizing it was really great for the rest of the team and deepening relationships

Landing back in Belize for our 2020 season was fun and very heart-felt.

Sharing our stories, holiday breakthroughs and honestly that first hug coming back from everyone was such an amazing "welcome back home" feeling that most people don't expect from "work".

It's added a great example as a result with work life harmony.

Small talk turned into meaningful talk. The seeds of our culture feels like a sense of family and community.

(Especially in times where society struggles with loneliness, almost as much if not more than burnout)

We spent a few days sharing and reminiscing about 2019 as a group exercise, and co-designing what 2020 will be like given that reflection exercise. The great news is we're already very dedicated to our own growth, it was a cool way to adjust and re-align.

Lesson #2:

It's not about jumping straight back into productivity. It requires some important acclimatization and getting back into the exciting energy and flow of the New Year.

3. Personal, Emotional and Spiritual Development as Leaders

While we are a very family-community oriented organization of People, part of our core values is around Empowerment. In other words, we value self leadership in our way of being, as a culture.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of "New Year's Resolutions" because if we're on our own growth path, it isn't dictated by an end or beginning of the year. Instead for me, it's a consistent practice. However, we don't live in a bubble - and I can appreciate that we collectively view the months of December and January as the end and beginning respectively, and the energy it brings.

It's a great time for breakthroughs and really returning back into the New Year recognizing we are different people.

For me, the power and energy of Grace and Flow is very important to me as I utilize it on my path to draw in the people, circumstances and resources for my personal mission and the mission of the Clinic - and it's very easy to stagnate and get comfortable with routines especially after a full year of consistent action.

Personally I went through a lot of change in December. I got married!

One of the personal exercises I use around Work Life Harmony is making values focused decisions around all areas of my life: Career, Family, Relationships, Health, Growth, Spirituality

I've grown consciously over the last month and coming back has shifted the lenses I look through as a leader and its lessons it brings for 2020. This year will be a year of growth, hiring and delegating as the ground work and foundations have solidified to grow on top of.

Lesson #3:

Your leadership, focus and priorities shift as you grow. It influences the people around you too - so it's important to communicate it, as your figuring it out and as change will create turbulence, the goal is to trend towards a new harmony. Now apply this for every potential person in the organization.

2020 will be an exciting year for us at the clinic, our community and People leaders we reach out to.

We've established our roots to integrate a clinical burnout intervention process with a vacation model to provide a measurably life transforming experience for those who struggle with burnout and looking to overcome it.

We continue to add tons of value with our free consultations to help leaders get really clear with their next steps to overcome burnout.

It's been powerfully reassuring to hear that HR and People leaders are taking burnout seriously, and several high profile companies are putting it on their priorities for the year. Whether it be a part of a benefits program, mental health awareness or wellness initiatives or even a training program.

There's still a lot of work to go.

With the growing and deepening demands of digital transformation, exponential technology and for the desire for hyper-growth and profitability for any organization - the complexities that are coming out the other end are stacking and exponential (and unfortunately unprecedented and unknown).

It'll take a collective group effort to really deepen the channels to alleviate the mental and emotional toll on us - both from the intervention and prevention sides of the equation.

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Ghandi


A little about me... Hi! I'm Duncan So, Executive Director at I’ve been a child of corporate burnout that has led me into the field of human flourishing for over a decade. I’ve been a social entrepreneur and change agent ever since, on a mission to create a more passionate world building systems and programs for companies and communities on the path of making social good.

Want to breakthrough your burnout and creating meaningful work for yourself or your organization? Start here at: