Palm Tree. Vacation. Ahhh...

Palm Tree. Vacation. Ahhh...

Are you jonesin’ for a vacation to an exotic locale?

Think of three things, if they happened during the day, that would make it enough to call it your ideal.

Envisioning a new landscape of life, if only for a week, can be very alluring. We’ve all had that romantic notion of escaping our present situation, leaving it all behind, and living our best life in flowing garments, on a tropical island, with a pina colada (insert margarita, ice cold beer, limonada) in hand. Not a care in the world.

So, what happens when you finally take the leap?

Ah, the reality! First there’s the logistics, a loooooong to-do list to add to your already busy life:

Research a destination-renew your passport-book a flight-make hotel reservations-rent a car-decide what clothes to take-shop for what you need-make arrangements for your pets your mail your kids your plants your job while you’re away-get to the airport two hours ahead-check or shlep your baggage-snake through the lines at security-take off your shoes your jacket your belt your watch-remove your laptop from its case-walk through the scanner-find your gate-board your flight-spend a number of hours crammed into an airplane seat surrounded by strangers… are you still breathing?

And now, the big question: after all that preparation, how do you enjoy your vacation?

Are you the type that spends half your vacation trying to unwind, and the other half gearing back up for your return?

On the first day, keep your attention in present time only. Do not project forward to tomorrow or back to the past, or even to what will occur in an hour. Living in multiple time zones simultaneously is an energy drain. Release anticipations of the future, and settle into the only reality there is now: the present. Give your mind a rest, with all of its concerns, plans, memories, hopes, and fears. When you feel your mind pull toward a thought from another time zone, simply return to your breath. Trust that being present allows you to feel safe and comfortable. Enjoy the pleasure of life lived in the present tense.

Maybe you’re the type that books yourself solid while on vacation, and then needs a vacation once you get home. You can’t miss a thing: beach time, historic sites, best restaurants, a round of golf, a day of fishing, souvenir shopping, massage, Zumba…

And by the end of the day, every day, you’ve run yourself ragged.

Beginning on day one, set your priorities for what you’d like to do in a day. Each morning, think about your ideal day. Scan the day, from morning to evening. Think of three things, if they happened during the day, that would make it enough to call it your ideal. (Is there anything that feels like an obstacle to having that ideal day?) Once you’ve come up with three things you want to experience, narrow that down to the one thing that would make you deliriously happy. Focus on doing only what makes you feel comfortable, relaxed, and peaceful.

Then again, you may be the type who never really leaves home; you bring every electronic device with you to keep plugged into the details of your daily life. Off on a safari? Gotta download daily photos and post ‘em on facebook. On a tropical island? Better call home three times a day to keep tabs on the family. You are so wrapped up between your smart phone, your laptop, your camera, and your video recorder; you’ll only experience your vacation once you see the photos.

(Okay, this might feel excruciating. Don’t shoot the messenger):

  • Limit your technology use.
  • Take a break from your iFriend.
  • Set a timer if you need to, for ten minutes, to do a quick check-in. Then return to the present tense.
  • Designate a few short times during the day for checking out to check in. Then, re-focus your attention on how you can truly show up for your vacation.

There are times we ignore the true definition of [va-ca-tion (noun) 1. A period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, 2. Leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure, 3. Freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.]

Next time, how about taking an intentional vacation? It would be a real shame to miss out.