How to keep vacation mind alive all year long


Rosie feeling the gentle waves in Akumal

I am writing you from one of my favorite places in the world, Akumal, Mexico. We have been on a family vacation this week, with my Dad and Dee, my sister’s family and our family. As soon as we touched the white sand of the beach, the troubles of the world slipped away into a distant haze.

The refreshing tropical breeze, perfect water and warm sun certainly help me to forget my day to day concerns, but I think there is something else to it.

When we go on vacation, we know we are going into a new zone — a place where we have permission to leave behind our “real life” and enter a world where connection, presence and feeling are of primary priority.

While on vacation, it is perfectly normal to::

  • watch a hermit crab crawl along a wall for 30 minutes
  • tune into your feelings to see what you truly feel like eating — including nothing at all
  • spend time gazing at something beautiful while engaged in deep conversation with those you love
  • not worry about the past or future — awaken your senses to the present moment
  • imagine what you want in the future, without limitations

All worry and anxiety slips away in this zone, and the things that kept you awake at 3amback at home — flaws in software code, web copy that isn’t writing itself, where to find your next customer or project, Quickbooks categories — cease to be important.

The few times that I have logged into email this vacation, I was struck by how quickly my emotion changed from total ease into anxiousness. There was no crisis to attend to, or any big problems, but I noticed that my default mode was defensive, prepared for a problem or challenge.

Which led me to wonder … how can we keep the ease, openness and relaxation alive when we return home from a relaxing vacation?

Here are some starter ideas:

  • My 10 year old son Josh said that vacation is “permission to not do work.” He said “It is also asking yourself ‘what is critical to do this day, versus doing the next day?’ Like managing your time, basically. Even out the times that you work so that you can relax.” I like this advice, which allows you to create reasonable expectations for what you can accomplish each day, instead of always feeling like no matter how much you do, it is never enough.
  • Take “everyday adventures,” a term coined by my friend and former client Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens. She encourages people to take miniature adventures in their own communities to enjoy tiny beautiful moments. She created a calendar and planner to encourage this type of adventure.
  • Unplug and have conversations with your loved ones in natural locations. Sit outside in the backyard and check in with each other. Place your comfy chairs in front of the window and gaze at the snow together while talking about your day.
  • Notice your emotional state, and when you get too anxious about your daily activities, zoom out to “vacation mind.” Remember how you felt while on vacation, and invite that relaxed, open feeling to fill your body. I guarantee you will solve problems better, write better, code better or design better from this more open and relaxed emotional state.
  • Read fiction and adventure books for fun. When back at home, we often feel we have to keep up with the latest business books to stay sharp. Add some pure fun reading to your mix, and you may find your ideas expand and grow.
  • When back at home, build the future you visualized while gazing at the sunset over a beach. If your day to day business or job is not set up to deliver a fulfulling life, get to work building a new direction when you return home on vacation. Big career moves are possible, but they require tiny steps to get there. The idea for my community tour last year was born as I was gazing out at the lake in front of my sister’s house while on summer vacation last year.
  • Don’t take things so seriously. It is not the end of the world if you have a typo in your newsletter. If you lose a client, you can gain a new one. Laugh more. Eat delicious food. Talk to strangers. Life is meant to enjoy all year long.

IMG_3889Two iguanas from Chichen Itza encourage you to stop and take in the grandeur of your everyday life. Although their home is at the heart of one of the world’s greatest empires, your home is pretty dang awesome too.

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