Two weeks ago I took a nearly week-long vacation. I hadn’t taken a proper trip in over two years and to be honest, I forgot how insanely powerful they could be.
I just started a new job so I was a bit anxious to take time off, but it is summertime and it made sense to pull the trigger on a week away. We decided on Playa del Carmen in Mexico and it was a blast. While all the margaritas, ceviche and pool time were great, I took much more away from the vacation than extra poundage.
Here’s four things I took away on why you should consider taking time off:
I started a new job in a new industry in February of 2021. I’ve spent the last six months getting adjusted and trying to figure out where I fit and it’s been a grind. The work I do can be pretty abstract and it gets tiresome to constantly ask yourself where you are making an impact and where you can improve.
With a proper vacation, all this consternation and anxiety starts to recede. As one of my favorite movies lines go, “After Fight Club, everything seemed to have the volume turned down.” I noticed the same effect. After about two days, thoughts about my work, my goals, and the directionality of my career in general just kind of melted into the Mexican sun.
I found my brain free to play, daydream, and just be bored. It didn't jump from thing to thing as hurriedly as back home, and it felt good to feel the internal chatter fade away for a couple of days. This is probably one of the most obvious reasons why people take time off, but it still surprised me how deeply my mind quieted when relaxation was the true goal.
Every day we slept in until about 11:30 or noon. Yes, we were basking in the sun all day and drinking caipirinhas, but we weren’t staying up particularly late. At home and on weekdays I hit the hay at 12 midnight or 1am, so it really was no different on vacation. That said, when given the opportunity for more rest, my body took advantage every time.
Not only did I sleep in but I also had vivid, intense dreams too. By the time the vacation was over it was clear that I had been pushing myself too hard at home and surprise surprise, needed more shut-eye. My body knew what it needed and when I was able to listen I heard it loud and clear.
I have been an avid user of Audible since I first trialed it in late 2019. I walk my dog a lot and drive almost everywhere so it’s perfect for me. That said, there’s something about physical books and the kind of attention they demand. The smell of the pages, how you need to change your grip on the cover as you advance, all of it.
As I often do I switched between the two books I brought - The War on Small Business and The Human Animal - and devoured half of both titles. Instead of napping in the sun or wading around in the pool, I spent much of the day time reading. I hadn’t picked up a physical book in a long time and I could feel that my brain missed it. It is truly a totally different experience than audio.
Similar to sleep, it seems like when the brain or body is finally given time and space to do something that it desperately needs or wants, it executes. What else in my life am I starving for or that I could use more of right now?
I noticed one thing in the midst of puffing a cigar after dinner one night: time took on an entirely different quality when spending time away. Memories and thoughts from years past seemed far more available and transparent. Six months from now seemed more like two weeks away. It led me to consider my life from a new angle and to think less about the surface level concerns and complaints and more about the general direction of things.
What I'm doing, what I want, how I'm living, things I want to change are all things that appeared differently to me when looked at this way. I felt something in me that my mom has been trying to drill in my brain since childhood with little success — patience.
Can't wait for the next one.