You are desperate to get away for a vacation. The overbearing boss, the high-maintenance client and your triple-digit inbox notifications have you in a funk.
Or maybe it’s worse than a funk: You’ve conjured up an image of yourself walking around with your hair on fire, and you’re telling yourself that if you could just get to that beach, you could dunk your head into the cool water and ffffshzzzzz. It would all go away in an instant.
Or would it?
You can put that auto-responder on your emails and clear your schedule of meetings, but all that really does is push the stress to the side. The Monday after your getaway, you return to find the same amount of things on your to-do list, simply moved to the next week on the calendar.
But what if there were another way to think about your vacation? What if it became an opportunity to shift your mindset so profoundly that your new feelings went home and back to the office with you and lasted even longer than your tan?
Interested? Here’s how to apply this theory to your next vacation.
Focus on ‘Wants’ vs. ‘Shoulds’
The mantra to set for this vacation is to spend time on what you want to do, rather than on what you think you need to do or should do. The same goes for your career. Just because you have a degree in one area doesn’t mean you have to stay on that path. It’s never too late to try something new.
This mindset shift in and of itself is the key to making any day (or weekend) feel like a vacation.
Stay off Email for a Purpose
Don’t give yourself (or your partner or spouse) points just for unplugging while you’re away. This is more than just a chance to “check out” from the office. Unplugging should enable you to create the kind of sacred time and space you need to think about the important aspects of your life that don’t get enough attention day to day.
Have a Goal for the Vacation
Just like you set an intention for your yoga practice, the sustainable vacation requires goal setting as well. The goal should be about your deep ambitions — what you want for yourself at work and at home.
A goal might be, “Figure out my career goal for five years from now,” or “Establish a morning routine that will help me start the day more refreshed.”
Disrupt a Bad Habit
Vacation is a great time to try to change a habit, since you are already mixing up your routine.
But, given that you will likely indulge yourself a bit while on vacation, choose just one thing to give up — or simply identify a gear you want to shift in your life. A lot of us deal with self-doubt, or “imposter syndrome,” at the office. Focus on attaining new skills you can learn so you’ll start being more confident of your abilities when you return.
Your vacation can be a time to recognize what is holding you back from achieving a more fulfilling career. Take advantage of a new setting — or even just being on a different schedule while staying at home — to have the kinds of conversations (with yourself or those you love) that we all desperately need, but rarely have the time to explore. It’s like treating your thoughts as if they have a longer wavelength.
This summer, get the result you want and need: an experience that will make us live our lives better when we were not on vacation, rather than leaving all those good feelings behind until the next one.
(If you want the play-by-play discussion of how I put these tactics into action, listen to two podcasts my business partner and podcast co-host Rachel Bellow and I recorded during the process: one before we left and one that includes recordings from the vacation as well as our “post-game analysis” from after we returned. You can listen to the first episode here, and the second episode here.)