What Kind Of –cation Are You Planning?

June 20, 2009

A week ago Wednesday our internet connection went down during severe thunderstorms. It wasn’t back up until Monday afternoon this week. That meant I spent nearly a week without access to e-mail or online forums or search engines. Since most of my interaction as a coach and consultant is through the internet, I felt disconnected, almost invisible. But the forced break got me to think a lot about the value of planning and taking real breaks from my routine.

When the economy started tumbling, I noticed businesses marketing the idea of a “staycation.” This is a variation of the vacation where people stay in town and maybe even stay in their homes but take a break from work and enjoy recreational activities around them. Later I heard the word “daycation” to describe a day off that is filled with recreation and relaxation. It’s a short but intense break planned with focus and purpose, kind of like quality time with yourself.

I decided one day a few weeks back to take a daycation, although it really was more of a half-daycation. I had a lot of errands that needed to be done in one week so I planned a day where I could spend most of my time getting them done. They were mindless sorts of things, so I was able to add in a mid-morning stop for breakfast out, which is a special treat for me, and a late lunch at a Thai place I don’t visit often because it’s not close by. Fortunately it’s near the credit union, which was on my errand list.

I wore a vacation shirt and khaki shorts that day. The shirt has a print with flowers and surfboards and old woody station wagons all over it. It gave my day a little of the feeling of being near the beach, where everyone in the shopping centers and restaurants is dressed like they’re headed to the ocean or a pool. When one person commented that I looked very comfortable, I said, “I’m on daycation.”

Our family doesn’t have our summer all planned yet because we were waiting to find out about some things, like college orientation and soccer tournaments and our older son’s work schedule. A lot of that has been sorted out so I spent my invisible days last week thinking about the rhythm of this summer. I realized we need to have a trip to get away for a few days just for fun, an honest to goodness vacation. We also need to plan a special activity in town a couple times per month, a regular schedule of daycations.

I also decided that, since my schedule has changed while my younger son is out of school, I’ll need to change the way I work. I’d already decided to shift my focus to writing, but I realized I will need to spend a lot of time generating creative ideas to help me plan what I’m going to write and how I’m going to say it. I’m thinking of that shift as a “playcation.” I don’t mean the goofing off, messing around kind of play. I need the kind of play that involves trying things out and working them in different ways. I need to spend time playing around with plans and ideas, doing different creative activities to get new ideas flowing. It’s the sort of intentional deconstruction and reworking that Twyla Tharp writes about in The Creative Habit. It’s work, and it’s demanding, but it sounds like a lot of fun so I think of it as play.

A fast food commercial I just heard used the word “breakation.” I like the idea of elevating the importance of a break to a real event. Vacations are about getting out of the old routine, changing scenery, and changing your schedule. They’re about exercising different parts of your brain, giving time to elements of your heart that don’t often get to be part of your day, and seeing things from a different point of view. The idea of taking a break, even for a short portion of a day, for the same kind of purpose as a vacation sounds pretty cool.

I encourage you to think about the different ways you can bring the spirit and purpose of vacation into your life. Vacation is not just about time off from work or going somewhere new. It’s about honoring your need for time off from the routine of your daily life. It’s about honoring your need for variety and newness.

Vacation is also about honoring whimsy and spontaneity. It’s about trying something new just because you want to, not because it will help you get ahead at work. It’s about bringing activities and people into your life that you don’t usually have time to enjoy, but which energize your heart.

I’m certain that it’s important to honor the spirit of vacation more than once a year, and in more than just one season. I want to bring the renewing and refreshing power of vacation into my life every month. In fact, I’m starting to see that people who enjoy their lives richly honor the spirit of vacation on a regular basis and try to keep their daily lives from becoming the sort of thing they need to take a break from. What a goal that would be!

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey
Authentic Life Work & Self-Employment Coach

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