When I decided to take last week off, a lot of people asked me questions like, “Hmm.. will you actually take the time off?” It was a question I asked myself too – before and during my vacation! I love my work, I have tons of projects (both on the go and in the wings) and I love to be doing. So what would I do with this whole “time off” thing?
The first day, I went to the One of a Kind Show and Sale here in Toronto. It was rich with beauty and inspiration! I even delved into asking exhibitors for creative tips that I could share with you. It was awesome but I admit it: I was working!
As I moved further into my holidays, I had kept one day with clients. I love working with my clients so I thought, well, that’s okay then.
The next day, I realized I actually had three (yes, three!) meetings booked.
Clearly, I wasn’t getting this whole concept of “time off”.
I rescheduled every meeting. I even cancelled going out with a friend because being scheduled didn’t feel like holidays.
I gave myself a gold star for commitment… and proceeded to get very, very restless.
I had an idea of what vacation was not – not work, not meetings, not schedules – but I wasn’t sure what it was. I didn’t want to spend a week floating in an empty void of “not work” and I didn’t want to reach for work out of habit.
So I asked myself the key question for this Type A to enjoy her time off…
What is this time off for?
For years I’ve been wanting to book off a week in April because I always find myself exhausted at this time. The studio is so busy at the beginning of the year and I’m depleted from the long, dark winter. This time off was for resting.
Entering a new season after a winter of busy-ness, I also found myself craving some quiet, reflective time. This time off was for hearing my own heart.
Once I set these intentions I was able to finally settle in and enjoy my vacation. I didn’t have to follow any shoulds or preconceived ideas. I didn’t have to fill the void with habit or work. All I had to do was attend to my energy and my heart and that led me to a truly lovely week.
What This Type A Has Learned about Time Off
1. Set an Intention for your Time Off
With our busy lives, time off is a precious thing. Getting clear on what you want from that time – rejuvenation, fun, reflection, connection – can help you direct your natural enthusiasm into your vacation.
2. Time Off is Different for Everyone
We have a tendency to think that relaxation is the key to time off but really what fulfills you is highly personal. Maybe you want adventure or play dates with friends. Maybe you want breakfast in bed and a good book. Maybe you want to jet ski and play beach volleyball. Maybe you want to journal for hours in a coffee shop. Pay attention to your self, your needs and wants in this moment and focus your vacation on that.
3. Pay Attention to Energy Up – Energy Down
To figure out a focus, notice what brings your energy up and what sends it down. (This is good advice every day!) So many of us make our choices (even vacation choices) guided by “shoulds” instead of trusting our inner guidance system. Tune into your energy and let it guide the way.
A Caveat: Be aware that your habits may try and fool you! If the spaciousness of time off feels uncomfortable, you may find your energy up when you grab hold of work. Remember, that is available to you any time. In fact, you’ll be back to it on Monday. Allow yourself to find the energy opportunities in “vacation.”
4. Time Off Serves the Work
If your heart is deeply invested in the work you do, remind yourself that time away serves it well. It allows you to return with renewed energy and fresh perspectives. Taking time for your own renewal is a sustainability strategy, one that will allow you, your life and your work to thrive.
5. Give Yourself Over to It 100%
The most frazzling thing you can do is to try and be in two places at one time. If you are not really on vacation because you’re checking emails, finishing up tasks, taking a few meetings and you’re not really working because you’re away from your computer, your response time is slow and you’re trying to spend time with loved ones, you’re breaking yourself in two. You’re losing the benefits of both work and time off! Stop spreading yourself too thin, “like butter over too much bread.” (Thank you, Bilbo.) Give yourself the gift of being where you are. Bring all that energy home.
After spending the week attending to my rest and listening to my heart, here’s what I realized. These aren’t things I can do once or twice a year when I finally take some time off. Being well-rested and tuned into my self are priorities for my every day. I just needed a vacation to remind me!