One of my favourite tips to share with clients is this tiny but awesome strategy for getting the best out of your experience when you’re going on holiday. Whether it’s a long weekend or a month-long holiday, or anything in between, this simple practice can make a profound difference to how you experience your time away – and how you feel when you come back from it.
And it takes just five minutes. You’ve gotta love that.
How often do we just pack a bag, pack the car or board the plane and take off, aware of where we’re going and that we really need a break, but with not much thought beyond that … perhaps apart from what books we want to take with us?
I’ve noticed for myself and my clients that it can mean you get home and maybe it’s the day before you’re due to go back to work feeling any combo of relaxed, bummed, devastated, uplifted, inspired, tired, content, refreshed and the list goes on. It can be a tad hit-and-miss whether you got what you needed from your holiday and whether you feel ready to face the world again – or not.
You’ve probably noticed some people are really good at being on holiday. They switch off, they’re in the moment, they take no work with them, they stay chilled if they have to take a work call, they feel okay when they get home and then return to work. They’re refreshed. They’re okay about returning to work. They seem to have dream holidays.
Because not everyone manages this, and I notice that couples with young families can find this the trickiest because there is no longer just yourselves to think about; holidays become a family affair and are often quite centred around the kids. That can be a great thing. It can also leave little room for what you need from your holiday.
Now, I realised as I was writing this that I’m often having these conversations with fairly stressed out professionals who really do need a good holiday in order to refresh themselves and gather some sanity or who currently hate their job (if that’s you, also go here!), so perhaps my take on this is somewhat through that lens of ‘how can you make the most of your time off?’ But it’s also through the lens of self-care. Aside from having time off from work or your usual daily routine, and aside from perhaps being somewhere different to home, what is it about holiday time that really nourishes you? That’s the lens I’m looking through.
This simple strategy can help you, your other half, and even your kids, to make sure you get what you need these holidays.
Here’s the scoop …
Simply take five minutes one day PRIOR to your holiday – it could be the week before or the day before – and ask yourself three questions. And WRITE DOWN your answers in a notebook or your phone. Ask yourself – what do you want to do, enjoy and get out of your holiday? How do you want to be feeling on holiday? And how do you want to be feeling on the day you get home/the day before you return to work or your usual routine?
► What do you want to do, enjoy and experience on holiday?
► How do you want to be being on holiday? How do you want to be feeling, experiencing this time?
► On your last day of holiday/the day before you return to your usual routine or work, how would you like to be feeling?
Make this really concrete by writing down or recording your answers. This makes it more solid, like a love letter to yourself. It also activates the RAS (Reticular Activating System) in your brain that sorts all the information coming into your system. Your RAS is your goal setting software and will help you sift and sort your experiences on holiday to support your intentions.
As a family you can do this together – you each get to answer these questions and of course it’s a great way to help you and your spouse to make sure you can build in plans for you each to get some of your individual needs met. One of you might want to be able to go for a morning run some days or to meditate, and another might want to take your eldest child for a special trip together. Maybe one of the kids has a dream of picking fresh coconuts or swimming with a pineapple (I did find one on a beach once!)? Whatever it is, if it’s the thing that will make your holiday, then work together to help make it happen. Then everyone wins.
Doing this before you go can feel really good – you’re front-footed, you can factor in practicalities, and your whole nervous system starts to feel more relaxed before you even get there, because it can feel that you’re going to get what you need.
This is truly one of the tiniest strategies I share with clients and it’s also one of my favourites because not only it is small and simple to do, it can have amazingly big flow on effects.
Sometimes it’s just about knowing how to use the mind to your advantage, and letting the lovely results show up. I’m still constantly amazed at what setting simple intentions like this can do. It’s quite magical.
As one of my clients once said, “I am the wand”. Yes you are.
So, go wave your wand, and have a wonderful holiday. 🙂