We stayed in Isabela, which is a quaint little surf town on the northwestern side of the island. It has what one would expect; rustic buildings, colorful characters and a beach full of surf worshippers. What it also has are people who embrace the “vacation” mentality all the time.
What do I mean by the “vacation” mentality? Let me explain through our meeting with the staff at Ola Lola. As my wife and I were heading to the hotel we were staying at, we drove past this shack that said it served breakfast and dinner. We decided to try it out the next morning.
We stopped for breakfast and met a woman who had vacationed on the island with her husband the previous fall and fell in love with the place. She asked John, the owner of the building, to let her and her husband run a breakfast and lunch since John only ran dinner service. He agreed, and so there we sat eating great coconut French toast (with coconut milk instead of regular milk!) and drinking huge mugs of coffee.
While we were there, we asked about how she came here and she said she was burnt out and ready for a change. When we met John the next day as we stopped by for a snack, he said the same thing. His kids had grown up and moved out of the house and he and his left the Michigan cold for the warmth of the Caribbean.
What struck me with the conversations of both of these people was that it seemed that the stress of daily life had gotten to a point where a huge change had to be made. As we talked with a few other ex-pats from around the world, it seemed to be a running theme; to break away from what they were doing to find a slower pace and connect with what they were doing. They found that feeling they get on a great vacation, but all the time.
Of course my first reaction was a bit of jealousy. Seeing someone just change their life and move like that made me wonder if I could do this. Realizing I was not in a position to just pick up and leave, I thought more about why we allow ourselves to get to such a point of being overwhelmed that we have to move across the globe to find some peace.
I began thinking: shouldn’t we focus more on bringing a little of the “vacation” pace into our daily lives so we don’t get to a breaking point?
I examined my behavior on vacation and take note of when I felt relaxed and when I did not. The latter was when I was focused on working or tied to email communication but in a very distracted way. It seemed as if work was pulling me around. I could feel myself getting short with people and being pulled out of the peace I had attained the previous day.
More importantly, I realized when I was most at peace, I still accomplished work tasks, but it was how I approached the day. I knew I had things to do, but because I had set aside time to do them, I freed myself to be more present in what I was doing during the rest of the day.
Now I have written before about life balance and there are many writers who have discussed this topic much more in depth than I have, so it is not a revolutionary topic. It hit me, though, because I saw the peace in those who took control of their pace of life, albeit moving to find it. I could see myself very clearly in and out of it on vacation and decided that I had to bring this home or else one day I may end up with a ticket in my hand chasing peace around the globe.
Here are things I noticed I did when I was relaxed and will reinforce in my work/home life:
- I ate in a relaxed manner talking to who was with me. Not gobbling it down while doing work with a computer at my side.
- I got up and walked around. During the day I took a break from what I was doing and took a minute to go outside and appreciate the beauty for a moment.
- I was present for conversations with family. The one thing I realized was that I looked at them. Now that may seem odd, but how many times at work do you look through someone, or do not really hear them because you are thinking of something else?
The biggest thing I realized was that I controlled the pace of the day. I was open and said YES more than I said no.
The sad thing was that as I came home it was like slipping on an old jacket. The ritual, the pull of work, the quickened pace and list of things to do – and it was controlling me.
I committed to finding that pace from vacation, so here are a few things I will be doing:
- Not checking emails first thing in the AM. I will focus on being there for my family and sing a bit, laugh a bit as we get them hustled out to school.
- Listen to good music on the way to work versus the drone of talk radio, sports radio or news. Even a good audio book is better use of the time
- Slow down at work and give my focus to who I am talking to.
- Schedule time to do tasks, which then frees me up to be present for my team.
- Get up and have lunch with the staff and get away from the desk when eating.
- Control the pace of the day, versus letting it control me.
- Take five minutes each hour to move around.
I think the more we can bring vacation into our daily lives will help keep us from holding back until we bust and need to move on hoping to find peace of mind.