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Steps to Making Your Vacation Work for You (Personally and Professionally)

28Jun 2007

Summer is obviously the traditional time for family vacations, due to the fact that students (and many educational instructors) have the summer off of school. As a result, the family vacation is on many individuals’ minds. Having just returned from my own vacation, I thought I would share some thoughts that may help your vacation be a profitable one for you, personally and professionally (although there probably will be associated financial costs!)

Vacate. The root of vacation is “vacate” – meaning, to leave. Although it can be costly, if at all possible, I would encourage you to get away from home for your vacation. Getting away from your home, along with your daily routine and responsibilities, provides a needed mental break necessary to rejuvenate and re-energize.

Rest. Try to schedule your vacation activities in a way that allows you to get some rest. Many of us schedule our vacations so tightly that we have to stay up late the night before we leave to do laundry, clean house, and pack – making us exhausted before we even leave! We then are so busy and frantic during the vacation itself that we become more tired. And we also leave little margin at the end to “catch up” from being gone. So try this – plan some days to sleep in, maybe take naps and time to “do nothing”.

Refresh. Do you know what is mentally and emotionally refreshing to you? For me, it’s nature. I haven’t truly been on vacation if I’m not able to spend some time in nature. For others, it is being pampered – eating out, going to a spa, or staying at a nice hotel. Some people are refreshed by visual beauty, others by learning about new places, history or culture. Young parents (both dads, but especially moms) need some time alone to be refreshed – even if it is just one day (or several hours!). Identify what renews your spirit and schedule some of this type of activity into your vacation.

Reflect. Being away from your daily routine, responsibilities, and environment can provide the mental space needed to reflect on your life. Is this how you want to live? What changes would you like to make so your daily life more closely reflects your true values? Is your current pathway leading you to your goals (personally, professionally, relationally, health-wise)? Schedule some time to be by yourself, reflect, and write down your thoughts.

Relationships. For many, your vacation is a time of renewing and deepening important relationships. Families on vacation together have the opportunity to spend longer time periods together. When used correctly — that is, talking together versus each person listening to their own iPod or playing videogames or experiencing unique activities together – vacations can be a significant time in a family’s life. For individuals who are not currently in a significant relationship, vacations can be utilized to deepen friendships by going on vacations with friends or by visiting family members (siblings, parents).

There are obviously other ways to make your vacation “work” for you – giving you the sense of relaxation and refreshment we all desire from our vacations. But ultimately, the best way to benefit from taking a vacation is to do what Nike says: “Just do it!”

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