Convertibles, flip-flops, reading a good book, sunsets by the beach – there’s nothing quite like a summer vacation.   But what if vacation never ended?

I have always been fascinated watching my clients change when vacation nears.  People who are poor planners suddenly find time to do research like a pro.   Clients who complain that they lack energy seem to discover the fountain of youth as they pack their days AND nights with exotic outings.   But did you ever stop and wonder why we save these skills for one or two weeks a year?

Take Sally, a client who came to me recently saying that her life was boring and lacked excitement.   I asked her to pause and examine what was it about herself, her job, and her marriage that made her feel bored?   The answers were telling.   First, she did not go to plays and art functions any more.  Second, she tended to dress for comfort or budget and not for creativity or a personal sense of style.   She also didn’t travel as much, or take as many vacations.  In her marriage, she said that her husband was more anti-social and didn’t want to get together with friends.    Overall, she said she tended to play is safe and take less risks.

Sally is not alone.  So many of my clients find themselves postponing joy.   They are waiting for that “one day” when they have can have fun, or can relax.   They are always waiting until some busy time passes to allow themselves to stop and enjoy life.  And while most of us have a few “go to” things we do for fun, even those can get old and leave us feeling in a rut.  Vacation tends to be the one time we allow ourselves to let go and live it up.   But what if we could cultivate what I call a “vacation mindset” year-round?

How many 30 year-olds do you know who get off work at 6 o’clock and think it’s the end of their day?  Do they eat dinner and veg out in-front of the television for 3 or 4 hours?  No!  Most of them go out and exercise, go out with friends, go see a play or band, go volunteer for a nonprofit, or go to a class at night.   As we get older we tend to buy-in to the idea that fun only happens on weekends and vacations.  TGIF and “Hump day” are two ways that we see this mindset in our language.   Has anyone ever asked you at 6pm “How was your day?”   Guess what – the DAY is not over at 6pm!

Take Action
We can make a choice to sprinkle in things we like to do year-round – not just when we’re on vacation.  Here is a practice that I told Sally to do and it’s something that I’ve been doing personally for years.

  1. Where are you Stuck?  Take a bigger issue like “feeling bored” and dig deeper to break the problem down into smaller pieces like I did with Sally.
  2. What brings you joy? Make a list of the things you really enjoy doing.  This could be exercise, team sports, the arts, shopping, reading, spending time with friends.
  3. What’s going on? Every month I sit down and PLAN for fun the next month.   I go online and check out what’s going on.     Make a “Tourist in your Own Hometown” list of 10 things you love to do in your city.
  4. Schedule it.  Take those items and pick a few times each week where you have an open block to either “check out” of life or go have fun.   Write down two or three choices in each block of things to do that day.
  5. Develop a Weekly habit – Take time to pause on Sunday evening and plan your fun for the week.

Having fun at your fingertips and written into your schedule makes it easier to bring energy and JOY into your life.   Without it, you run the risk of being sucked into the vortex that is your couch, your TV remote, your refrigerator, or your glass of wine.
We all love vacations.  But even though it’s not possible to take off from work 52 weeks a year, it IS possible to make a CHOICE to have fun every week.    If you follow some of these tips, you can cultivate a “vacation mindset” that lasts all year!