How to Live Life on Vacation: Your Guide to Living Well Every Day
A 4-Part Series — Part 2
In Part 1, we explored why living your real life as if you are on vacation is such a big deal. This time, in Part 2, we will cover how to do it.
It’s hard to be intentional every moment of every day. It’s challenging to be in vacation mode and maximize the moments when you are in survival mode. Or maybe you’re not in survival mode, but there’s a certain amount of routine that dominates your schedule, chauffeuring the kids, scheduling appointments and meetings, working on your business. You’re probably pulled in a thousand directions by a thousand people, and even if you practice mindfulness, meditation, and are meticulous about your health and well-being…stress, constraints, reality, and monotony seep in.
Some days, despite your best intentions, you go through the motions instead of savoring the moments or noticing the details. Unless an amazing sunset stops you in your tracks, you might have days where you are wholly focused on checking the boxes on your to-do list, and that’s about as deep as it gets. That’s ok.
But let’s get back in touch with the version of you that takes vacations. Who is she, the one that plans activities that will surprise and delight the family? The one who orders cute coordinating outfits and researches sunset times to schedule dinner on the beach at precisely the right moment? The one that finds joy in the journey, that tolerates ambiguity and open-endedness? The one that lives for the moment, that savors the details because she never knows when she’ll be again? Who is that person? Where is she every day? Can you tap into her wisdom and her hunger and appetite for life?
I know that woman and she is amazing. Fierce, fearless, and optimistic, she loves life, loves her family, and wants to go everywhere and see and do everything. She’s not so different from the day-to-day version of yourself, but she has figured out one of the secrets of life. Today, you are going to help her apply that secret to real life, not just to live it on vacation, but live it every day. That secret is this: When you choose anticipation over comfort, you will stay engaged, inspired, and motivated, and your life will be bigger, more exciting, and more fulfilling than you hoped. Here’s how to put it into practice.
That secret is this: When you choose anticipation over comfort, you will stay engaged, inspired, and motivated, and your life will be bigger, more exciting, and more fulfilling than you hoped.
Think about all your best trips, not one in particular, but elements from a few standout favorites. Where did you go? Who were you with? What made them special?
Was it the magic of your first trip to Disneyland or returning there with your children? Was it the winter you first learned to ski or the first time you played Pebble Beach? Was it seeing something you’d only read about and realizing it was even better than you imagined?
Or was it a road-trip with your sibling squished in between too much gear, hot and tired and singing songs in the back row? Was it your honeymoon? Was it the first time you saw the ocean, ancient ruins, or giant redwoods?
Now, make a list of every place you want to go, everything you want to see. Really push yourself to be exhaustive. Include the big stuff, the expensive stuff, the free stuff, the planned stuff, the spontaneous stuff, the crazy, the insignificant. Make a bucket list, a wishlist, anything that comes to mind. Don’t hold back.
Now think about your life. Look at your highlights. What moments were your best either because of what was happening, how you felt, because you were really shining, or because you felt the wholeness and magnitude of life? Who were you with? What made them special? Was it your first dance, first performance, first prize, or the first kiss with your now husband?
Was it summers at the pool with your children, watching them grow and mature year after year? Was it your first job or your first business trip, first marathon, or the first time you presented to your leadership team? Was it writing a book or reading a book that changed your outlook?
Was it having a baby or watching your baby learn to walk and talk or taking your first mother-daughter trip together?
Now, make a list of everything you want to do, every milestone you want to achieve, and things you want to learn, experience, or be. Really push yourself to go deep. Include the major stuff, the silly stuff, the meaningful, the things that seems irrelevant but keeps popping in your head. It doesn’t matter if it’s feasible, or likely, or matters to anyone else but you. Think ahead to the end of your life. What will you regret not doing? What memories will you cherish most? What growth and experiences will have changed you?
The key to staying in the zone, of accomplishment, fulfillment, and excitement, is to feel the pressure of one lifetime, to accept the reality that your time is now, that whether conditions are perfect or not, these years are all you’ll ever have, and it is your responsibility alone to make the most of them.
As children, we instinctively know that. We gravitate to people, places, and experiences that make us happy, that are fun, that we learn from. As we grow older, we have more on the line, and we start making safer bets. We push our bodies less. We ignore our curiosity. We stick with what we know, what’s benign, what’s certain, what’s comfortable. And we miss out because of it. We stop growing. We stop connecting. And we forget how extraordinary and captivating life can be.
These years are all you’ll ever have, and it is your responsibility alone to make the most of them.
There’s an art to living life well, to planning and executing great vacations, to creating a life that you don’t need a vacation from. There are six steps you can right now to make your real life feel and be closer to the vacation of your dreams. In Part 3, we will walk through the steps together.