Ah, the allure of the short break.

After a hectic end to 2023, a mini escape from the hustle, a chance to recharge and return reinvigorated was very much needed.

Like a delicious serving of Christmas pudding enjoyed in moderation, it can be delightfully sweet.  But indulge too freely, and what was supposed to be a sprinkle becomes a sugar crash. That, my friends, is the curse of the short break taken too soon.

I know I am not alone.  We’ve all been there.

One minute you are riding a wave of momentum, crushing goals, feeling like a productivity ninja. Then, the secret whispers of “you deserve a break” creep in from your unconscious. Maybe it’s a long weekend, a spontaneous movie night, or simply an extra hour under the covers. Whatever it is, you convince yourself a little break won’t hurt. In fact, it might even help.

Except, it doesn’t. What starts as a delightful indulgence quickly transforms into a sticky quicksand of “just one mores.” The emails stack up, deadlines loom, and the once-crisp to-do list becomes a blurry landscape of forgotten tasks. Suddenly, getting back on track feels like scaling a mountain.

Here is what I know. Momentum is a fickle beast. It’s easily lost, painfully hard to reclaim. It is like pushing a wheelbarrow. You build up momentum, the wheel spins freely, and progress feels effortless. But stop pushing, even for a short break, and that wheel starts rolling back, dragging you down with it.

So, how do we avoid the siren song of the short break gone wrong?

Here are a few of my tips from a seasoned veteran of the “momentum cliff”:

  1. When it comes to a short break, define what you mean by “short.” For me, a short break might be a night off, while for others, it’s a whole week. Figure out what works for you and stick to it.
  2. Plan your re-entry. Don’t expect to jump back into the deep end after a week of binge-watching. Schedule a buffer day for easing back into your routine.
  3. Prioritize ruthlessly. Identify the most critical tasks and tackle those first. Remember, progress, not perfection, is the goal.
  4. Reward yourself strategically. Don’t wait until you’ve scaled Everest to celebrate. Reward yourself for small wins along the way to keep the momentum going.
  5. And my theme for this year. Embrace the suck. Getting back on track isn’t always a joyride. There will be moments of grumbling, procrastination, and self-doubt. That’s normal. Push through it and remember why you started in the first place.

Finally, remember, short breaks aren’t the enemy. They’re essential for long-term sustainability. Just be mindful of when and how you indulge.

Treat them like a delicious batch of biscuits—enjoy them in moderation, savour the sweetness, and know when to stop before the sugar crash hits.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a wheelbarrow full of tasks waiting for me…and a half-eaten piece of fruit cake still calling my name.

Until next time,


P.S. Share your short break struggles and triumphs in the comments below! Let’s support each other on this beautiful, messy journey of chasing our goals.

7 thoughts on “The Siren Song of the Short Break: Why Getting Back on Track Feels Like Climbing Everest”
  1. Hi Neal,
    I appreciate your tips on getting back on track as I am struggling to get back to routine after holiday time off! I have taken note of all the tips as they are a good checklist. Tip 3, prioritizing ruthlessly for me is the most difficult as it is linked to getting up early in the morning to do those important tasks but since the holidays, I have been struggling. I take note of tip 5 and think it’s an excellent way forward.
    Look forward to following your story…

    1. Hi Eleanor.
      Pleased you liked the tips.
      I am on holidays from my day job for all of January which is great and very much needed.
      However, the downside is the lack of daily structure. Easing back into my online business using a weekly and daily plan has helped me get back on track.
      Glad you like Tip 5 “Embrace the Suck”. I was inspired by an interview Andrew Huberman did with David Goggins. I have made this my personal mantra this year!

  2. Hi Neal,

    Great Post! Short breaks can take a turn for the worse and has at different point in the year, but Christmas seems to be the time it would happen most often. I love the tips you came up with, they really treat the break strategically, instead of “oh, it’s just some time off”. I tend to more strategic about a break that is for a vacation time, but for Christmas it’s more casual and easier to just enjoy without a strategy. Thanks for sharing and look forward to your next posts!

    1. Thanks Denny
      I figured others might be in the same boat as me.
      Pleased to hear that Dean had also experienced something similar.
      This year I am taking a longer than normal break (5 weeks) and want to make sure I make use of the time.
      And enjoy my break of course!

  3. Neal, great blog, thanks. The truth is I try not to take a break. What I mean is that I slow down, I do less but I don’t stop. If I do I will find it hard to start up again. I try to tick along and not go stale. Keep going, Atif

    1. Thanks, Atif. I think you are right about trying not to take a break. Agree with slowing down but not stopping as then you don’t really lose any momentum. This time around I wanted to use the break to catch up which probably complicated things for me a bit. Cheers Neal

  4. Neal,
    Great post! I also found the return to very stressful, so when it comes to my online business, I bring it with me. I seem to get more achieved in it when I am not competing with my day job. I will have to try your tips for returning in my day job though. Thanks for sharing look forward to more of your posts.

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