I’m on vacation this week and it’s got me thinking a lot about the whole concept of taking time away from our everyday lives and why this becomes so important to us.
I get it. The demands of daily life can be very challenging. Our routines become monotonous, our day-to-day stress can restrain our enjoyment in life. Most of us spend a good deal of time adhering to rules set by others and so, it causes us to look out the window longing for a day when we can “get a break.”
I love a good vacation, don’t get me wrong, but I begin to wonder if this whole idea just reinforces the feeling that we are somehow held captive in our day to day life. Why can’t our normal days be more aligned with our vacation days? Do the two really have to be so different?
While my two young sons certainly enjoy the variety of the sandy beach and hot summer pool time, as I watch them soak in the vacation vibes every American strives for I think about ways I could instill in them, and myself, the same sense of happiness and relaxation that can really be achieved anywhere.
Make Time for Things You Love
I used to think when I had one child I didn’t have any time. Now that I have two children, I see the major fallacy of my thinking. We tend to believe we have reached our capacity in terms of time or ability, when we really just lack experience in management at the next level.
Writing, for instance, has always been important and fulfilling for me. But for so long, I used excuses like not having enough time, space, or mental capacity to be the writer I wanted to be. But I have found life only gets busier and more complicated and if I want to write, I should make time to write, and that is at the very least a starting place for carving out a space where I can devote effort and energy to something I love.
I once came across a quote that read, “If you have time for Instagram and Facebook, you can start your own business.” It is so true! The time we spend on social media (or other forms of time consuming entertainment) are great places to start in reshaping the way our time is spent.
Find (or Create) Your Source of Peace
Making precious family memories is a lot of work. We often find that our hard earned vacation can actually turn out to be just as, if not more, stressful than our everyday obligations. So, if that is the case, then where do our peace and relaxation come from? What gives us a sense of stability when we lose a piece of luggage, it rains every day of our beach trip, or none of the children will cooperate for family photos?
If we can cultivate a peaceful grounding that is internal and practice tools to help us access it, then we can take that feeling with us anywhere. It may be deep breathing, taking a walk, or journaling. Finding what works for you to experience relaxation should not be dependent on day spas and fancy meals. It’s the peace that only you can bring to your own experience.
Let Go of Worry
For many of us, what we are really vacationing from is not the physical place or even the people we surround ourselves with. It is the mental and emotional stress we carry with us, always in the background projecting an analysis about what will happen next. It keeps us competitive, it keeps us productive, but it can also hold us captive in our own minds. When we take a vacation, in a sense we walk away from the worries of the day to day and that, I’m afraid, is often what feels so satisfying.
But it is possible to move through your regular routine without anticipating every future event, it is possible to relate to your coworkers, your friends, without feelings of stress or obligation, and if you find yourself experiencing those it may be time just to let some of that worry go and take a good look at what you are and are not in control of.
In our professional lives we carry different levels of responsibility depending on our circumstances. But just ask yourself, would it be possible to wake up each day and say,
“I’m going to do my very best today. No more, no less.”
Setting that intention, trusting yourself to follow through, and accepting the outcome liberates you from the self induced stress and criticism that make our responsibilities feel like a ball and chain.
If our joy were relegated only to our vacation days, it would mean we are just toiling away for some elusive happiness that will arrive “if” and “when.” But, happiness, relaxation, and peace are all within your grasp. I hope you’ll take your own vacation this week, right in the middle of your everyday life.