Vacations. They are wonderful. But do you know that until this past week, I hadn't taken a vacation in over a year? Perhaps what's even more shocking is that during that entire time, I never felt like I needed one. Years ago, I set out to create a life where I didn't crave time off from work in order to feel rested and recharged, and yet I know not everyone's in that boat.
I worry when I see friends and colleagues dangle vacations like proverbial carrots on sticks, as motivation to grind through another few months before they can finally relax by escaping work for a week or two. Maybe you're familiar with the old "I just need to get through these next few months and then I'll be on vacation" line. For me, the worrying part is when we use words like 'need'. I wonder if our work culture and our personal choices create conditions in which we cannot relax and recharge in our daily life; instead, we believe we need to step out of our normal day to day in order to do so.
I have been there. At work, I have pushed myself to the point where I felt I couldn't take time away, and then even when I did take time off I would often work anyway. I carried my occupational baggage home with me every evening, letting it occupy my thoughts such that I was emotionally and mentally attached to my job all hours of the day. I had no idea how draining it was until I stopped.
A couple years ago, I made the decision to prioritize myself and my well-being. For me, that meant reducing my work hours, and choosing to truly make my own time mine again by ruthlessly setting and upholding boundaries. As I made these changes, I felt calmer, happier and more focused. My life improved in so many ways (by the way, so did my creativity and focus at work). But one of the unanticipated benefits was that I stopped craving time off. I had created enough time for myself to relax and recharge within my daily schedule that I didn't need the carrot-on-a-stick vacation time to accomplish that outcome.
As we wind down the summer months during which we tend to take most of our vacation time, what are you doing to cultivate practices that allow you to recharge and unplug in your daily life?
Here are some questions to help you unpack your current patterns and create space to explore new ones. Here's to consistently living in a state of energy and relaxation.
What consequences do I notice when I feel under-rested, over-committed or unable to disconnect from my work?
When I allow myself to relax and recharge, how do I feel? What do I think, say and do differently?
What boundaries do I dream of establishing between my work life and home life? How can I make at least one of my "wish list" boundaries a reality?
What helps me feel at my calmest and most relaxed? Where can I make time to do more of these things? What would I have to say no to? What stops me from saying no (be honest with yourself here, because the answer often isn't pretty)?