Vacations are a double edged sword
Vacations can be a double edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great to relax, take every day as it comes and just enjoy life. On the other hand, taking time off from all your regular habits in life might cause more disturbance than you think. There’s a risk you’ll end up feeling more stressed than relaxed on your vacation.
This summer, I decided to try a different approach. I’ve taken to heart a quote by Seth Godin: ”Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
I’ve made my own version of this. Yes, I do have a regular job that I am now on vacation from. However, I have not taken vacation from the other things that I am trying to implement in my life. Things that I want to pursue.
Connecting with friends
I’ve tried to keep a daily structure around the things that I want to be working on. My best time of the day for getting things done is early in the mornings, before the kids are awake. But to be able to get up early, I also have to go to bed early. This is something that’s been a bit difficult during the summer, since we’ve had a lot of good friends visiting.
Every family have their own schedule. We have to reconcile our kids bedtime at 8 o’clock with other kids that might not go to bed until 11 o’clock. Tired kids make for cranky kids make for cranky parents. Letting them stay up late is sure to backlash the next day.
However, this is also the benefit of summer vacations. That you can choose to stay up later and sleep a bit longer the next day. I’m truly grateful that so many friends have visited us this summer. Keeping in touch with them means a lot to me. I’ve traded some of my early mornings for hanging out with people that I want to spend time with.
I believe that reading will give you a huge advantage in life.
As James Altucher says:
“If I read 5 pages a day from non-fiction books, then in a year I will have read 1830 pages of knowledge. And each page I read will build upon the pages I’ve read before.
And it’s 1830 pages 99% of people won’t read. Most people don’t pick up a book after age 20.”
I think he’s right. So I try to read as much as possible. This summer I’ve read a whole lot more than last summer. I’ve been trying to take the time each day to sit down and read. I’ve been reading inspiring blog posts, but most of all inspiring books.
I got a Kindle paperwhite for birthday present and that has helped me in my reading. I don’t need to worry about not having books to read when we are away a few days. I can sit in the dark and read while the kids are settling in. Works like a charm!
Also, I don’t need to be attached to my phone anymore, which is where I used to read books. Now I can leave the phone on the kitchen counter the whole day and just check it when I want to. The benefit being that my kids don’t see me with my phone all the time. Instead, they see me with my Kindle and then they know that I’m reading.
I’m trying to increase my reading speed. My current pace is 300 words per minute. With a few simple tricks learned from Jim Kvik, I’ve increased it to 400. I’m intrigued to see how fast I can become. Already with this increase, I can get a lot more read.
No, I haven’t been writing every day. With friends visiting for several days it’s difficult to go to bed at 10 o’clock to be able to get up at 5 to write. Sleeping in a tent with the family also makes it a bit tricky, since I don’t want to disturb the kids.
OK, so I haven’t written as much as I was hoping to do, but at least I have been writing. It’s definitely an improvement compared to last summer vacation.
I have been exercising my brain every day. Trying to come up with ideas for a lot of different things. Making sure to write them down. I’ve started to use waiter’s pads.
Most of my ideas have been crappy. Some have been good. But at least, they have been my ideas.
This summer we’re building our own veranda. When you’re constructing things you constantly have to come up with ideas on how to solve problems that arise. It’s also highly satisfactory work since the progress is so tangible.
You have to be fully focused otherwise you’ll end up with a board cut the wrong way. But then you simply try again. Cut the board right this time. OK, if you cut many boards the wrong way, you’ll end up with an expensive veranda. So you need to be focused.
In the evenings, we are sitting on our veranda watching the sunset and the beautiful landscape around us. I love it!
Sometimes I feel that this is just plain ridiculous. How can I go through life staying positive all the time? But what’s the alternative? Being negative won’t get me anywhere. Yes, of course I have my moments of despair when I feel that nothing is working out as I intended. But those moments are much less frequent and have a way shorter half life than before.
Staying positive is not the same as being naive or unrealistic. I can be realistic and still keep my positive mindset.
Being more present in the moment
Focusing on the here and now. Trying to be more intentional with how I use my time. One practical thing I’ve done to achieve this is disabling all notifications on my phone. Great experience! I now check my emails when I want to and I’m trying to minimize the time spent on social media.
The amount of time that can be lost on social media is mind boggling. What if we can use this time to do other things? Surely, there are more important things that we need to be doing.
A lot of people are frustrated that they don’t have enough time to do all the things that needs to be done. I know that feeling very well, but I’m trying to work on this problem. We all know that there are 24 hours to a day, yet we try to cram in things to do that should take twice that time. When are we ever going to realize that we cannot bend time?
If you feel like there a too few hours in a day, there are two solutions to this problem:
- Try to invent more hours to a day.
- Skip or simplify some of the things that you are trying to fit into a day.
Needless to say, the first solution is impossible. This leaves us with only solution number two to work with. This sounds easy but can be very difficult since we all aspire to do so much.
Try to start making conscious decisions about what you are going to do next. It’s so easy to aimlessly pick up the phone and get lost on Facebook, Quora or Instagram. Before you know it, an hour has passed.
Pick the number one thing that needs to be done today and focus on that. Whether that is playing a board game with your kids, doing the laundry or publishing a blog post. When that is completed, you can select the next one.
Now that the vacation is coming to an end, I feel as if I’ve truly accomplished something this summer. That I’ve taken some steps in the direction that I strive to lead my life. It feels good to go back to work. I like what I do. However, I feel even more motivated than before to get up at 5 o’clock to pursue the things I want to (such as writing this blog post).
I’m trying to set up a life I don’t need to escape from. I hope you are doing the same.