Beware of Vacations: You Just Might Return a Different Person

Vacation time reveals many insights into your tendencies. In the shift from responsibility to leisure, you change how you do things. As you head to the cottage or the water, you may find yourself shifting into rhythm time versus clock time.

A recent Hay Group survey indicated that stress in management positions is at an all time high. When pressure increases, it is a signal to pace yourself or face the consequences. Short term pressure you can handle, but when it is endless it requires pacing to prevent dropping the ball on an important project, or aggravating your health and significant relationships.

The summer I took white water paddling lessons, I returned a changed woman.  I had shared a canoe with one of the instructors, so I had a running narration of what the water was telling us and what we had to do to stay upright while navigating the rapids.

Before each rapid run, we climbed the rocks to read the water and devise a strategy. My instructor explained that we could actually stop in the midst of the rapids and use the force of the water to hold us there. I was very, very skeptical.

Sure enough, in the water we found the many spots where the force of the river held us in place indefinitely while we raised our paddles high in the air. What a profound experience this was for me.

I came away with a sense that we had completed a ballet through the rapids – something I had not thought possible. To me the goal was to get to the other side as quickly as possible and not capsize, and then move on to the next set of rapids.

Later that day on shore, I reflected on what had taken place. Perhaps I was putting way too much effort into getting things done both in the run and my business. Was I fighting the forces instead of working with them? With this new mindset, I began my journey out of my workaholic tendencies.

I returned to work with a new mindset. If I could stop in the midst of rapids working with the force of the water, I could learn to stop in the midst of busyness. Though it wasn’t easy letting go of my habits, gradually I increased my effectiveness and quality of life.

My strong drive to achieve no longer controls me. By choosing to pace my actions, I am self-managing. I can trust myself to take a break without losing my focus and momentum.

Some of my friends and colleagues would still describe me as a workaholic. The difference is that I can stop and pace myself anytime, anywhere – on water, or on land 🙂

This summer what are your possibilities for pacing yourself?

If you can do it for a week or two on vacation, could you build renewal into your work week?

Vacations are an ideal time to become more self-aware. It takes mindfulness more so than effort. When under tremendous pressure, we have the choice of reverting back to old behaviors or updating them. However, it begins with a shift in mindset. Vacations – where you have rhythm time – are fertile ground for nurturing mindsets that fit your current phase/stage of life.

Any insights from your recent vacation? Share with us in comments below.


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