Two weeks per year is the extent of an annual American vacation (for most Americans). The numbers are better elsewhere (in many European countries), but the fact remains—our leisure time is mandated and limited. It’s no small wonder then, that most people, when finally determined to take a trip somewhere, find the strongest desire to simply go sit on a beach and sip cocktails.
Most people work demanding schedules, live demanding lives, and a little R & R is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. A week of “checking out” can certainly have its value, but what if a vacation afforded a different kind of opportunity?
What if we used our vacation time to throw the whole thing back up on the drawing board? The whole thing I’m referring to is, of course—life itself. Or rather...
The Life We’ve Chosen To Live
More and more, people are drawn to travel opportunities that serve a different function. People use their vacation to perform acts of service, cultivate a new skill, or deepen an existing one. The rise of the yoga retreat is a testament to this societal development.
Yet for many, life circumstances (at this stage) simply don’t allow for hopping on a plane and shuffling off to an exotic location. Ok fine-- this isn’t a petition for such experiences. No—my intent with this post is to say, “a vacation,” which I choose to define as a break from the routine, can be used effectively right where you are.
Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, speaks about the Creativity Date, which is essentially, the act of taking yourself on a date each week (or every other week) that involves something you normally wouldn’t consider. The thinking here is that by changing the norm, we change our perception and participation in it. As a creativity tool, this has proven to be a very effective strategy (especially if you consider her popularity and book sales).
I propose a similar approach to leisure time.
On Vacations and Bucket Lists
We all have these lists we keep in our heads—the bucket list so to speak. On that list we keep things we wish we could do, if only…if only…if only…
But what is REALLY preventing us from realizing the items on these lists? What is getting in the way of us doing something drastic (or not-so-drastic) to check said item off the list?
The normal preventive complaints are family commitments, finances, and time. So, what if we employed our creativity to circumnavigate these impediments? Here are 3 suggestions to make your next vacation matter.
1. Keep It Simple
Start simple. If it’s on your list to do a yoga retreat (but you complain that your bank account won’t allow it), just make your own.
For your next vacation, choose a week-long yoga class schedule you’d like to participate in right there in your hometown. Go to the local artisans grocery store (or probably any grocery store these days) and buy 7 bottles of coconut water. Splurge and book a massage for your vacation. Download music indigenous to the place you’d like to visit. Turn off your electronics.
And amidst your life, even around your kid’s soccer practice, the responsibility of cooking dinner, etc…give yourself the gift of a yoga retreat. It’s a start.
2. Set An Intention
This suggestion gets put on nearly every try-this-list out there, and for good reason. Intention is a powerful force. Our intentions shape our experiences in ways we don’t often see, and empowering our lives by actually, consciously creating intentions is a good way to make your next vacation matter.
These days, vacation for me often involves going home to visit family (as I’ve chosen to live in the exotic location). And even then, I choose to make each visit a function of specific intentions. The process that works for me is quite simple, and doesn’t involve heavy journaling, vision-board creation, or the like. I simply say to myself what I’d like this trip to be about. And usually, in some form or another—it happens.
Set your intention. It can be powerful.
3. Go For It
Despite my advice in point #1, if you take a mental assessment of what is preventing you from realizing your dreams, you might find that the things standing in your way aren’t really standing in your way. As is the case with most efforts, risk is required. It might seem impossible to take a vipasana meditation course, but really it isn’t.
If you cite money as the issue, try Kickstarter. Family responsibilities? Reach out to friends, or look for childcare services in the location you’ve chosen to visit.
I live in Bali, and friends often ask what about my kids when contemplating a trip here, but the truth is—childcare here is as easy as it gets (not to mention—incredibly affordable by western standards). Solutions like this often exist, and it is our own obstruction that is REALLY preventing us from making-it-happen.
I feel in my own life, and see in others, a set of self-imposed limitations that blockade us from living the life we dream. It’s easier to do the same old thing, and complain about it, than chart new territory. Pushing off into that new territory often requires us to simply start. So..make your next vacation the start.
Do the thing you’ve always wanted to do. Learn the skill, be the person. It’s all right there. Go!