Friday, September 16, 2011

An Everyday Vacation!

Making Your Whole Life a Vacation

From - Taken from their free Work/Life Tips Newsletter
As the traditional summer vacation period comes to an end it is a good time to think about extending your vacation for 12 more months. You and everyone around you will be better off when you do.

My first start up company necessitated travel to varied locations, some interesting and potentially exotic: meetings with vendors and distributors in Hong Kong, Reno or Los Angeles; incentive meetings with sales teams or managers in Key Biscayne or on a Bahamian cruise. When I would arrive back to our headquarters a bit weary our receptionist would consistently greet me by asking, “How was your vacation?”

Now as glamorous as some of these places may have sounded my typical work day on such a trip was an intense 16 to 18 hours so I could finish and get home sooner. Rather than trying to explain to my co-worker that my just completed travel was for business, I took to answering that the trip was, “Great. My whole life is a vacation.” I initially did this for brevity, but I soon realized that my whole life potentially was and should be a vacation. And so should yours.

When you think of your vacations, what comes to mind? Probably you are doing something you enjoy or something different, in a pleasant spot with people around you who are likeable and amiable. Some vacations might include exploring some place or someone new; a quest or risk a little out of the ordinary.

Often to help insure those results, you are a bit friendlier, even to strangers. You may be more open to striking up a conversation and hearing about their adventure of the day and talking about yours: the restaurant enjoyed, the play attended, the fish caught, the sunset taken in. You are in a physically, mentally and emotionally pleasant state and you offer that up to others.

You tend to be more inclusive in your pleasantness when you are on vacation as well as to look for common ground to connect with others. It’s not to get something out of them, as you probably will never see these strangers again. It’s to make your life more pleasant. You have a different state of mind and a different way of acting. As a result the best vacations often end up being both relaxing and exhilarating. They leave you with memories of positive things done and people pleasantly engaged.

Should your life only be like that two or three weeks a year plus an occasional weekend? Should you be more amiable and your life be pleasant only when you are on vacation? Or should your life be pleasant everywhere? Why shouldn’t every day be a vacation?

Work as a Vacation

Work is where you probably spend most of your time AND the best of your time. It is when you are most mentally alert and physically energized. You probably spend more time with the people at work than you do with the people you love.

Think about all the different people you will encounter at work today. Each one of them is as important an individual as anyone you will meet on a vacation, and each one of them can effect you, your life and career in thousands of little ways – either positively or negatively. And they will, depending on your state of mind and way of acting when you encounter them.

If you have within you the physically, mentally and emotionally pleasant state you have when you are on vacation, and openly offer that up when you engage them, you will find that pleasantness is just as contagious at work as it is on vacation.

When you show an active, positive, supportive interest in their work and personal journey, most will respond in kind. And when you determine to celebrate your job and your accomplishments, any honest work can be a personally gratifying adventure.

There is an ancient parable that is often repeated because it makes this point so well. In the Middle Ages a traveler came across three stone cutters doing the grueling, dirty work of cutting massive rocks into blocks for building a church. He asks each of the three what they are doing. The first replies with a frown, “Are you blind. I am cutting stones from these filthy rocks.” He moves on to the next man who replies, “I am earning an honest living to support myself and my family.” He then approaches and waits on the deeply engaged third man. When the worker looks up he asks him the same question. This stone cutter’s face brightens with a contented and energized smile as he answers, “I am building a great cathedral that will stand for a thousand years.” The same job for one man was a grind, for another a living and for the third an everyday vacation, a celebration of his work and his life.

It is not what you do that primarily determines whether you enjoy your work. Instead it is how you view it and how you do it. So bring that vacation outlook of anticipation and celebration to your work and that sense of inclusive pleasantness and interest to your everyday encounters with your co-workers. Take a risk by approaching something or someone new, or someone old in a different way. When you do everybody’s job gets better.

Life as a Vacation With Family and Friends

Do the same in your personal life. Make a little vacation call to a friend. Phone to anticipate together a trip you are considering or to check in on their adventure of the day. Or just trade a smile or joke.

With your family, rather than just bringing the problems of the day home with you bring the pleasantries you encountered and the anticipation of a relaxed and happy evening with them.

Life as a Vacation for Your Self

What you bring most to others is the mental, physical and emotional pleasantness you have developed internally. When you develop your internal sense of vacation you will radiate it with little effort to others. So that is where you gain the most: by making the effort to consistently see and absorb all that is joyous about where you are right now.

Although official vacation time may be temporarily over that shouldn’t keep you from taking one every day. Learn to be truly joyful within yourself and the rest of your perpetual external holiday will follow. Every day will become exciting, interesting, enjoyable and sometimes even relaxing. Your whole life will be…a vacation.

Jim Bird

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