I don’t know who needs to hear this, but LONG WEEKENDS ARE NOT THE SAME AS VACATIONS, even if you do have a whole summer of them lined up.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOVE long weekends, they are the best (and we have one coming up this weekend – WOOOO HOOOO!) But, after hearing the third person I’ve talked to recently say they weren’t taking a vacation but were planning long weekends all summer I have some food for thought:
Vacations let you live more in the moment, not focused on what has to happen next week or next quarter. That report you obsessed over last week is already stale-dating itself on a server somewhere and NO ONE CARES. Vacation allows you to get a better perspective through being more present with yourself. Stepping out of the day-to-day also leaves room for being stimulated in new and different ways. While on vacation, seeing the sights, or doing nothing, you’re using different parts of your brain, solving different problems, or not solving any problems at all (yes, the kids CAN have cake for breakfast… how is it really any different then waffles and syrup?).
It takes time for both your body and mind to adjust, to stand down and to trust that you’re not going to have to rev up again to meet the next unexpected challenge. It takes time to heal from sustain concentration that went on long after you passed the fatigue line to get something done (and how many times have you done that this year… un-huh, you need a real vacation). No way does that healing take place when you’re only giving yourself 3-4 days in a row before gearing up again. This is why most employment legislation guarantees 5-10 days of vacation, AND the right to take them consecutively. Sustained vacation time lets the adrenalin and cortisol subside, lets your heart rate truly slow. You can set your own schedule, sleeping in… napping! All of this does wonders to support your body in healing and restoring itself to its “factory settings”.
You’re also intentionally stepping away from mental stress – unplugging not just from your keyboard, but from the expectations of others. Leave the lap top at home. Do not say you’ll be at the meeting next week, in the middle of your vacation, telling yourself “It’s just for an hour”. It’s not “just an hour”, it’s about thoroughly letting go! Even if it is just the hour (good luck with that, the e-mail alone will have you saying “while I’m here…”), the cost to your physical and mental health of not staying in vacation mode is massive. Step away from the emotional roller coaster of meeting other people’s demands and needs. You do lots of things at work that aren’t necessarily a priority, or even something you enjoy doing. Vacation is the opposite of all of that; it’s about taking time for yourself, doing what you want, when you want and spending uninterrupted time with your loved ones.
And you need a sustained amount of time away from work to make the everyday recede, so you can see what it is you’re meant to be doing with your life with a clarity that almost hurts. To get a glimpse into your truth, that feeling where everything you hold sacred aligns: your values, your beliefs, your gifts. This window into your soul is so important, it helps you navigate your path, bringing into focus the deepest expression of what is meaningful to you so you can bring it into what you do for a living.
Vacations (real vacations, where you’re away from work for a week or longer) hold this window open, so you’re able to see the possibilities of your own deepest desires. So, you can see the choices you get to make, the ones that decide how you spend your one precious and beautiful life.
Carleen helped me shape a new perspective on life and made me realize that it’s okay to be happy, whatever that means to me.