Vacation Habits Lead to Sustainable Happiness Year-Round

We all have a tendency to feel like we've somehow lost touch with ourselves and our joy when we are in transition or taking a big leap into something new. It's actually a good place to be, because it means you've stepped out of your comfort zone, learned a lot, grown and transformed to a new and improved version of yourself!
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Couple holding hands and running on beach
Couple holding hands and running on beach

2015-08-04-1438659031-5117003-beach.jpg

When you are on vacation, you're transported out of your normal habits and patterns. You feel free and alive and renewed. Everything is new.

And the focus is on fun, pleasure, discovery, and exploration -- no guilt required.

There's nothing you have to be doing during this time. And it's fantastic!

But if you pay attention to the things you choose to do while on vacation, they'll give you the best insight into what you actually enjoy doing and what energizes and inspires you.

What if we decided to live every single day of our lives focusing on fun, pleasure, exploration, freedom, and fulfillment?

In a recent session with one of my 1:1 coaching clients, our intention was to discuss self-care practices that my client could implement to help her focus less on the minutia of her to-do list, and focus more on showing up energized to her life and work. She wanted to feel her best and be in a positive mindset so she could truly be of service to those around her, and to herself.

Her primary frustration was that she felt like her overall happiness and positivity had vanished after a lengthy and tumultuous divorce, and needed to find new ways to stay in an empowering headspace, since she is now a new person and has grown so much from these experiences.

She is a superwoman: she's single mom, has a new boyfriend, and is currently working on building a business she's super passionate about outside of her demanding event design career.

We all have a tendency to feel like we've somehow lost touch with ourselves and our joy when we are in transition or taking a big leap into something new. It's actually a good place to be, because it means you've stepped out of your comfort zone, learned a lot, grown, and transformed to a new and improved version of yourself!

My first question to her was, "So, what makes you feel nourished? What are you already doing?"

Her response? Travel.

In the past year she's gone on at least 12 vacations or work trips, and that's when she feels most nourished, happy, free, positive, and like the woman she wants to be. Lucky lady!

My next question was, "What are you doing while you're visiting these new places that helps you feel nourished and energized?"

She vividly described herself reading books and magazines about things that inspire her creativity. She said she always has an out of office reply on, so she doesn't have to worry about work commitments because everyone is aware that she is unreachable for a few days. She relishes in being still and present, enjoying moments to herself in new places.

One of her favorite things to do is people-watch over a cup of great coffee at a cafe or in a beautiful garden she fatefully stumbles upon. She delights in wandering the streets with no real objective, other than to take in a new place and see people being happy in their own environments, pondering why they chose to live in this place and what's unique and interesting about it. She also mentioned that she makes being outdoors a big priority: not hiding out in a hotel room or Air BnB, but getting out into the world and being active in her pursuit of what makes this place beautiful.

From this list, I noticed three over-arching categories she enjoys focusing on: creative inspiration, stillness + presence, and internal + external discovery.

So our next step was coming up with activities or rituals she could do during a normal, non-traveling week at home or at work.

We tend not to think of these connections right away. Our minds can trick us into thinking that these pleasurable actions and states should be reserved for vacations, or times when we don't have anything else we "could" or "should" be doing.

When we live with the intention of our lives being as pleasurable and free as possible, we get more creative! We begin to open to the idea that these experiences could be an integral part of our everyday lives, and that if they were, we would be much more happy, relaxed, free, and fulfilled.

I remember a time when I thought that focusing on pleasure instead of productivity was pointless and lazy. But now I know better, and I've come to realize that life isn't just about working hard, stressing out, and living for pay day. It's about enjoying every single moment and being present, constantly taking stock of what energizes us and brings us joy so we can use our feelings as indicators of our purpose, and follow them wherever they may lead us.

When we think within the confines of the old paradigm of achievement, we miss the entire experience of our lives, and we tend to measure our "success" based on how much stuff we have, how busy we are, how much we can get done in a day, and how little sleep we get.

When we begin to shift our perspective away from the "how" and back to the "why" (becoming the fullest expression of ourselves), we can start to truly live our lives the way we desire.

I'd love for you to complete this exercise for yourself right now! Grab a piece of paper, and jot down the first thing that comes to mind for each of the following questions:

1.Think back to a time when you felt totally free, energized, and alive. Where were you?
2.What specific activities were you doing at that time? (i.e. running, journaling, eating with family/friends every night, spending time alone, getting 9 hours of sleep every night, taking baths, etc.)
3.How can you start tweaking these actions and weaving them into an average week? Think about which you can do at work, at home, and other places you spend time.

Once you have your responses, I challenge you to come up with a list of a few things you can do to channel the same feelings of freedom and serenity you have on vacation during your work day or an average week.

Then, keep your list in a note on your phone or somewhere that's easily accessible. Schedule 15-20 minute breaks throughout your work day, and when these break times come up, consult your list and choose an item from your list to do.

You can also make a separate list of things that take more than 15-20 minutes to do. Maybe you enjoy kayaking, attending outdoor concerts, or baking, which can be bigger time commitments. Be intentional about scheduling these activities into your weekends or evenings to add more pleasure to your life!

For more information about how to design your life and business around freedom, fun, and fulfillment, visit my website and download your complimentary Dream Catalyst Guide.

My hope is that you use this exercise to begin taking action on things that help you feel the way you want to feel in your life, so that you may experience exponential energy and joy on a consistent basis, and not save it up exclusively for this year's vacation!

You deserve to feel joy and experience freedom in every moment. Focusing on this truth will help you to drastically improve your life, year-round.

Be sure to share with us in the comments below what came up for you during this exercise, so we can continue the conversation!

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