Time Off Archives

The Quality of a Good Break

We’ve all heard of the benefits of taking a break, but the quality of a break will determine whether you receive the benefits of it or not. Have you ever taken a break at work and spent the time listening to a co-worker complain about problems? You may have left that break more drained and stressed than when you started it.

For the last year and a half, I’ve had an extreme fatigue illness. Most of that time, I laid on the couch. Even a simple task like grocery shopping was way more than I could do. I filled my time with listening to and participating in audio courses. It gave me a sense of purpose and kept my mind off of my extreme exhaustion. I needed to make sure I didn’t sleep too much during the day, otherwise I would lie awake at night not being able to sleep. (I wouldn’t wish this on anyone!)

One thing I found lying on that couch was that I still needed breaks. But relaxing on the couch wasn’t really a break for me. It didn’t give me what I needed. This experience brought me to a new level of consciousness of what was important to me in a break. I realized I needed a sense of refreshment and enjoyment, but I wasn’t clear on what I could do in those circumstances to get that. I needed something that didn’t take much energy.

This is what I discovered. One way to look at a break is to ask myself whether the break is a mental or sensual experience. If I’m doing a lot of mental work, like listening to audio courses, taking a sensual break—enjoy essential oils, the smell and taste of a cup of tea, listening to music I enjoy, looking at something beautiful, or asking my husband to rub my feet—was exactly what I needed. It gave me that refreshment and enjoyment I was looking for.

My work was mental, so taking a sensual break refreshed me. But for someone who does sensual work like a massage therapist, a cook, or an artist, doing something mental—reading a book or listening to a talk—may be what refreshes them.

So if you’re finding that even though you take breaks you’re not feeling that balance you would expect, experiment with whether you’re needing a sensual or mental activity for your break.

Why Bother Having Goals?

So what’s the point of having goals? Wouldn’t it be nicer to just go with the flow of life and enjoy what comes, turning away those things we don’t like and taking in what we do?

That sounds so nice but when I do that, I feel lost at sea, blowing in the wind following whatever might be in front of me. When I live that way, my energy gets drained. I feel dissatisfied. And I feel like I’m wasting my life.

Whereas when I set a goal, I experienced the satisfaction of seeing my progress as I work toward it. The actions I take have meaning to me in the context of the goal. It’s very fulfilling.

Choosing to have goals doesn’t mean you can’t go with the flow of life. That’s one of the things I don’t like about traditional goal-setting. In the traditional way, you set a goal, make a plan, and put together a rigid schedule. And then you make yourself accomplish it no matter what.

When I set a goal the “Surfing Your Enthusiasm” way, I experience the flow of life like a boat with a rudder experiences the flow of a river. I set a goal and as life flows toward me, I’m clear about what’s an opportunity and what’s a distraction. When I chose those things that come my way that support my goal, I feel empowered like I’m determining the direction of my life. Just like that boat determines its direction.

Boat on the wavesWhen I moved to Albuquerque from my hometown in Chicago, I didn’t have a job. One of my goals was to find a job where I would have plenty of time to enjoy my life outside of work. In the past, I had worked in London. In England, everyone gets a minimum of 4 weeks vacation. I totally loved having that much time off and really didn’t want to go back to the American measly vacation.

Years later after returning from London, I met someone who worked at a university. There she got 5 weeks vacation. She told me many universities are like that. If I hadn’t had set a goal to have lots of time off, I probably would have thought she was lucky having that much vacation, and not seriously considered that I too could have that. But instead, I made a note to myself that working at a university would be a good way for me to achieve my goal.

As I researched job opportunities in Albuquerque, I realized the University of New Mexico was located there. That became my number one choice for where I wanted to be employed.

I did apply to other organizations. A private company offered me a job where I’d have one week of vacation the first year, then I’d go up to two. Whoop dee doo. If I hadn’t had set the goal to have lots of time off, I may have taken that first offer. But I decided to give myself more time to see if I could get a job at UNM which I did and got my 5+ weeks of vacation each year!

Do you like setting goals? Or do you avoid them? How has this affected your life? Are you happy with your results?

Staycation—A New Style of Vacation

I believe down time is as important as taking action toward your goals. It brings about a powerful balance you can’t have without both.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I decided to try a new kind of down time—a staycation. For those of you who don’t know what a staycation is, it’s where you stay home, but you enjoy yourself in the same ways you would if you were on a trip. (Our cat especially liked the stay home part.)

We started our staycation by getting massages. Later, we had a authentic French dinner at a restaurant in our home town of Albuquerque…bringing back fun memories of our 2011 trip to France.

La Boca Santa Fe

The next day, we explored nearby Santa Fe—museum, art galleries, shopping, sherry and tapas for lunch, and good beer and mussels for dinner.

One of the advantages of taking a staycation is that we could sleep in or take long naps and not feel like we were missing sights we’d never get the chance to see again. We were able to relax even more than we typically would traveling. On our 3rd day we did just that.

On our last day, we went for a sunny winter hike. It felt so good to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful nature in our area.

Taking a staycation gave us the opportunity to enjoy those things in our area that we don’t always take the time for. Plus, it gave me a chance to see how I’d like to live my ideal life and start putting it into practice. Temporarily upleveling my life here at home was a powerful step in creating what I want in the future. I highly recommend a staycation.

What’s Your Longing Trying to Tell You?

A few years ago, for a period of six months, we lived in Portland, Oregon. We knew it was temporary so we rented a small one-bedroom apartment. Our focus was to enjoy that beautiful area of the country. One of our loves is food. Portland is a major restaurant town so we decided we’d eat out 3 to 4 times a week for the whole six months. It was luxurious!

Pazzo Restaurant, Portland, OR

Recently, both my husband and I had suddenly started longing for Portland. My husband even asked if I wanted to move there. Fortunately, I knew this longing was about something different than actually moving. We both love where we live and really missed it when we were in Portland.

One day as I was deciding what to have for dinner, I realized our lives had become too much work and not enough fun. On weekends we had long lists of things to do in our yard and house. We had gradually come to a place where we were no longer taking a day to go have fun.

This life style totally snuck up on us. The first weekend we started it, we did projects the whole weekend. We felt so good about what we had accomplished. We thought we could continue at that pace and make major headway toward those things we’d been wanting to accomplish around the house.

The ironic thing is we quickly became inefficient. We were making long lists to do for the weekend but we weren’t really getting much accomplished. Part of us knew we needed a break and was slowing us down. That part was also trying to communicate through our fond memories of Portland.

When I realized what was going on, I decided to have a Portland-style dinner. I relished the gourmet foods I had and even drank a Portland beer. It felt so nourishing, not only physically, but in my whole being.

I told my husband that one day each weekend I was going to have fun. He was welcome to join me. But I was no longer going to fill my weekends with to-do’s.

I’m glad I had the discernment to know that my longing for Portland wasn’t about actually moving. It was about a small change I needed to make in my current life, much easier than making a total move. And I got instant results.

Is there there anything you’re longing for in your life? If so, what qualities about what you long for can you incorporate into your life right now?

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