If you missed any of the prior posts in this series, here are the links you need. Go back and read them all!
- Our Problem with Rest
- What is Rest?
- The Reason for Rest
- A New Mindset
- Ground Rules for Rest
- Practical Ways to Rest #1
Last week we covered the first and most important way in which we can begin to rest … by actually taking a Sabbath day. This week we’ll progress a little further down the rabbit hole into another, more extended way.
Remember, the goal of all of this is for us to be able to start to live from a surplus of energy instead of trying to manufacture energy and live from a deficit.
Sabbaths are great and necessary if we’re ever going to get to that energy surplus. Like I said last week, that is the first place you should start. Think of this as a progression. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t jump into this or next weeks topic and start taking action if you aren’t currently taking a Sabbath. And you shouldn’t stop taking a Sabbath once you start any of these other things.
That brings us to today’s topic.
The second way in which you can start to find rest (and pay back that energy debt) is by taking a vacation. Vacations give us the ability to have an extended time away from our responsibilities - more than just one day on a Sabbath.
Sabbaths are “Man, it feels great to rest today. Oh my goodness I’m back at work tomorrow.” Vacations, on the other hand, are “Man, it feels great to rest today. Oh wow, I get to do this again tomorrow. That’s awesome.”
Vacations provide us with the opportunity to really dig into restful activities for a longer period of time - if we are willing to do so.
Honestly though, I’m almost hesitant to mention vacations as a source of restfulness for 3 reasons:
- Vacations are almost never restful. During vacations we tend to go on trips to places like theme parks, or we visit places we’ve never been. We want to see and do all the things. Which, in and of itself, isn’t bad. It’s just not restful. We go and go and never really take the time to rest while we’re there. Vacations are almost always scheduled down to the minute and generally feel more rushed than relaxing.
- Vacations are horribly time-limited. Most people only get 2 weeks of vacation a year. For those of us that work for someone else we might take one week off in the summer to go somewhere with our family. Then the remaining week is probably split up into a day here or there as we have need of extra time for something. At least, that’s been my experience. One week off a year doesn’t really cut it in the rest department. You can’t pay back an energy debt for 50 weeks of work like that.
- We almost never take them. Something about vacation and work just doesn’t mesh together. We have so much work to do that many of us just feel like we can’t take time off at all. The proliferation of new “unlimited vacation” policies at companies are only making it worse. Many people don’t want to take time off because they feel like they would be looked down upon or that they are abusing the policy.
It Can Be Great
But despite these drawbacks, it’s great that this time exists. For those of us that don’t control our work schedule, vacation time is the only other rest we can get during the year. So we should make sure to use these days to the fullest.
The trick with vacations, like Sabbaths, is to actually take them. If you want to pay back your energy debt you need to take all of your vacation time. Seriously. Take all the time you are given. It’s given to you. It’s yours. Take it!
I remember a few years ago when our team at work had a giant project that we were trying to launch. That year our whole team (which was around 15 people or so) only took half of our vacation time. That means that, on average, each of us only took a total of one week off that year. That’s not healthy and it showed. Once we launched our project, pretty much everyone on the team got sick - in which case we were forced to take time off.
The lesson - take all the time you have. It’s good for your health.
Also, don’t feel bad about taking time off that you’ve earned. If you’ve done a good job at work and you’re getting all your stuff done then no one should have a problem with that.
Tips & Tricks
Some quick tips for vacation time:
- Schedule it. You have to intentionally schedule and take the time you are given. Look at the calendar ahead and literally plan it now. It can change later if things come up but the chances of you taking it increase exponentially if you schedule it.
- Treat it like a Sabbath. If you’re looking to catch up on your energy debt then treat it like you would a Sabbath. Don’t plan anything and only do things that actually bring you rest.
- Go slow. If you do decide to head to a theme park or visit a new city with the family, don’t plan on seeing everything. Slow down. Soak in the sights and sounds around you. Don’t spend all of your time rushing around just to get a picture in front of some building or with some character. “We rode Space Mountain, then we went and had a Dole Whip and laid on the beach” is so much more restful than “I spent 75% of my vacation in lines so that we could ride every ride in the park.” The key here is energy debt reduction and energy savings, not how much you can see in one day.
- End it early. Taking a week-long vacation to someplace that isn’t your home is awesome. Arriving home at 11:00 PM on Sunday night and having to be back at work at 8:00 AM on Monday morning isn’t. Come home a day or two early and it will give you time to transition back to whatever “normal” life is. This will give you time to have your “vacation from the vacation.” Who knows? This might be your most restful time of all!
At the end of the day, vacations are a great way to extend the idea of Sabbath into a multi-day event. However, we actually have to take them and use them for restful activities if we plan on reducing our energy debt. How you handle the time off you have has everything to do with how restful it is for you.
I’ll be back next week with the third and final way we can get rid of the pesky energy debt and really start saving some up for the future. See you then!