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What Do You Expect of Your Vacation?

“I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.”  How often have you heard this phrase or something like it? How often have you yourself said it?  If you’re like most people, I’d hazard a guess that the answer is “MANY times.”  You go away on vacation to rest, to get away – and perhaps to take in some different sights and experiences – and end up coming back to your regular life exhausted, depleted and not at all rested.  What is that about? 

The face is, we all need vacations.  At its very core, a vacation is intended to serve two purposes:  first, to rejuvenate and replenish your spirit, often by experiencing a change of pace and scenery; second, to allow you the opportunity to learn a bit about a different culture or environment, depending on the type of vacation you take. 

When you plan for a vacation, what does your planning focus on?  What are the things you research or build into your itinerary, in order to make your vacation worthwhile?  Having talked to many people about this, and witnessed many clients, colleagues, friends and family engage in the “vacation planning” process, what I know for sure is that you spend a lot of your time planning excursions, tours, visits to historic sites or relatives (sometimes one and the same).  Your planning incorporates a lot of “things to do.”  Rarely does your planning allow for much time to just “be”. This is why you come back from vacation more exhausted than when you left.

 Now, here’s the irony.  If I were to ask you at the outset of your vacation planning, what you hope to get from your time away I’d likely hear some version of “I just need a break” or “I just need some time to veg out. So my question is this:  if your primary objective is rest and rejuvenation, why do you plan so much “busy” time?  Why don’t you plan more days of just sitting poolside, or on the beach, or on the wrap-around-porch, with your eyes closed and soaking up the sun?  Why do you try to DO so much on your vacation?

 One of the pitfalls of our society is the compulsion to constantly be “doing” something.  The inherent danger with this way of thinking is we forget that our bodies, minds and spirits actually need time to rest between times of “doing.”  We forget to spend time “being.”  And so, our vacations end up being filled with more things to do, rather than giving us any time to just be. 

If you really do want to do things on your vacation, by all means, go ahead and do them.  I’m not suggesting for a minute that you miss out on the opportunity to check out the Great Wall of China, or to explore the Mayan Riviera.  What I am asking you to do is get clear on what your goal is for your vacation.  And if getting a modicum of rest is a part of the expectation then make sure you build rest time in to your itinerary.  Your vacation cannot replenish you if you don’t factor replenishing into the equation.

Bottom-line:  get clear and get real about your vacation expectations.   Once you’re clear, plan accordingly.  Make your plans align with your expectations, so that when you get back from vacation, you can talk about how much you got what you set out to get, rather than about how much more you need.