Yes, I’m on vacation. I like to write in the moment, while I’m feeling all the feelings of an experience, and the insights are ripe for the picking. Here in Martha’s Vineyard with my immediate and extended family, I’m reminded of why vacations even exist, and I find myself incredibly conscious of how seldom we take full advantage of every good thing they have to offer.
If you want to optimize your vacation, here are 5 simple vows you can make!
1. Vacation OFTEN: How frequently do you vacation? I’m not asking how often you take a day off. Sometimes we take days off for doctor’s appointments, teacher development, running errands, or because someone is sick. Vacation is something else entirely. If you’re able to take off seven consecutive days at least two times a year, you’ll be on the road to doing vacation right!
2. Vacation CONSCIOUSLY: What do I mean by vacation consciously? Simply remember: you’re on VACATION. When you vacation, do you plan every spare moment, and end up with an agenda that resembles your work day? I realize some enjoy an itinerary full of wonderful experiences, but if you must pack your days, try to do so with activities that energize you. Don’t stress yourself trying to squeeze in the “shoulds” – it will only drain you.
3. Vacation UNBURDENED: This week, I put down my work cell phone. It’s hard to do, right? Our brains convince us the world will fall apart at the seams if we don’t check on it every five minutes. Not the case for the vast majority of us! The bright people with whom you work will figure it out, and you’ll be ready to get at it – fresh-faced and clear-headed – when you return.
4. Vacation CURIOUSLY: We learned a lot this past week about Martha’s Vineyard, its history, and various towns. There’s something about a collective learning experience that bonds people. I’m not talking about turning your vacation into an educational tour, unless that’s your thing. But be curious. About where you are, who lives there, how things work. It’s fun, and expands your mental horizons!
5. Vacation TOGETHER: I spent the last several days surrounded by the people I love most in the world. Talk about a cup filler! I don’t know about you, but my typical work week is such that even at night I’m usually working on something, or at least thinking about it. While we try to be present with our families, professional distractions still creep in. This week I basked in the power of focused presence. My husband instituted several “no device” days, and while the kids complained at first, they eventually rediscovered the simple joys of togetherness. Board and card games, beaches, bike riding, talking, eating, laughing. Presence truly is a gift!
I hope you carve out some REAL vacation time this summer – an opportunity to renew your spirit, your mind, and your connections. We’re all better for the journey when we pause to remember why we’re on it in the first place.
Happy Summer, Friends!
Tara Jaye Frank is VP of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards, Inc. and the author of Say Yes: A Woman’s Guide to Advancing Her Professional Purpose, written to help women from all cultural backgrounds chart a career course they can believe in and achieve. Follow her on Twitter @tarajfrank and Facebook at Facebook/tarajayefrank, or visit her at tarajayefrank.com.