We’re well into holiday season now, which means having to try and balance employees’ leave requests with keeping the business running. But, at some point, you too, need to take a break and leave work behind for a bit.

Taking a holiday is important for all the obvious reasons:

· You can enjoy some time with family
· You’ll feel refreshed, recharged and focused
· A rest is good for your health
· A break can bring some perspective

But, a holiday also provides the chance to ask one important question:

“Am I happy and is my family happy with the direction we’re taking in life?”

I was going to add “in the context of your business” at the end of the question there, but I stopped myself because it’s impossible to think about life without thinking about your business.

Work is massively influential on individual and collective happiness. But it’s even more prominent for business leaders, who live and breathe their work. However, this can mean their families also do so, as a result.

When was the last time you asked yourself how happy you and your loved ones are? Based on the responses I got at a Sutton Business Club conference, where I spoke about business owners’ happiness, I’d hazard at a guess that it was a little while ago, if ever.

As well as that big scary question – and it is scary to think that you could be working hard for little emotional reward – you should then ask this series of follow-up questions:

· Are we achieving our aspirations?
· What are our priorities?
· Where does the business fit in?
· Is the business enabling us to achieve what we aspire today?
· How will the business help us achieve our aspirations moving forward?

Why ask these questions on holiday?

I know, it seems counterintuitive in lots of ways to be asking these questions when you’re meant to be switching off from life for a bit, but there really is no better time.

Consider the alternatives. Do you really want to pose the question after a long, hard day at work? Or when the kids are demanding your attention? Or in a busy coffee house with people listening in?

Holiday provides headspace to think with clarity and objectivity, away from the baggage of the daily grind and in a setting that encourages reflection.

Why does it matter?

You might think that this is a question that doesn’t need asking, but you’d be surprised by how many business owners I speak to who are prepared to sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of their business or family.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

If you’re unhappy, it will show, no matter how hard you try to hide it. Your loved ones will see it in your body language and in the way you engage with things outside of work. They can read you like a book. And it will have an effect on their happiness, too.

Happiness is contagious. In fact, a Harvard study found that the ripple effect of happiness spreads to people up to three degrees of separation from you. Being happy actually makes others around you happier too – your family, your colleagues and your employees.

Striving for happiness is not selfish.

It’s crucial if you want to succeed personally and professionally. That doesn’t mean you have to start putting up inspirational quotes on the office walls – but at the same time, do it if it helps you think with some perspective during the day.

Ultimately, only you can define what happy feels like to you – just like your partner is the only person who can define what happiness is to them.

A holiday is the perfect time to not only go about defining your personal happiness, but learning what it is that makes your family happy.

Then, on your return, you can set about making the necessary changes to be happy, or happier. Even just attempting to move your life in a happier direction can bring about those feelings of contentment.

But, it all starts with asking that one important question first.