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McGoff: Go on vacation

May 9, 2012
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wellness-mcgoff-sharonWhat do you want to do/be when you grow up? How many thousands of times were you asked that question? How did you answer? Did you say:

• I want to work long hours, maybe 17 hours a day and be continuously tied to my job via email and phone;

• I want to gain 20 to 50 lbs and take medications that cause unpleasant side effects;

• I want to have poor quality and quantity sleep, maybe getting five hours a night. I want to have insomnia, worry about everything, feel constant stress, and I don’t want to take time to rest and rejuvenate;

• I want to have a spouse, children and friends, but I don’t want to spend any fun, adventurous or relaxing times with them;

• I want to have hobbies, but I don’t want to have time to enjoy those hobbies;

“Yeah, that’s what I want to do/be when I grow up!”

I’ll bet no one reading this replied with anything close to these responses, yet doesn’t this sound a bit like your life now? Is this really what you want? Take a good, hard look in the mirror and decide. You are the only one who can make the changes.

Taking a vacation this summer is a great opportunity to spend time thinking about what you want to do/be. Many attorneys don’t take vacations because they don’t have “time,” or if they do take vacations, it really isn’t a vacation because they are forever tied to the office in some electronic way and they feel guilty about being away. Yet, everyone agrees that vacations provide us with: 1) a mental health break from the rigors of our jobs; 2) an opportunity to reconnect with and nurture the relationships with our families/friends; and 3) the chance to explore new places, have fun and learn new things.

A recent survey revealed 90 percent of American workers reported feeling rested, rejuvenated, more productive and more appreciative of their jobs and bosses after they had taken a vacation. Psychologists agree that people who do not take vacations (including vacations away from your electronic portable devices) have an increasingly difficult time relaxing in the future, thereby compounding stress and stress-related illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer and depression. Their bodies never get a chance to go through a much-needed process of restoration and they exist in a continuous stress environment.

So, where does this lead us? To my not-so-infamous three-step process. Step 1: Schedule your vacation. Step 2: Let everyone know you will be unavailable – translation: “you will not be checking your electronic devices!” After all, if you were a patient in the ICU of your favorite hospital, no one could reach you there, and this is where you might be heading if you don’t make an effort to take a much-needed vacation. Step 3: Do something new and different on your vacation. When was the last time you did something for the first time? Think about it – we are creatures of habit. Change really freaks us out. We drive the same way to work, eat the same food, watch the same TV shows, blah, blah, blah. Do something new on your vacation! Your brain and inner child will thank you.

Words of advice

If you are new to the idea of taking a vacation and want to test the waters, take one day away from the office to do something fun in your area: visit a local park, rent a bike, canoe, read that book you got for Christmas, snuggle with your spouse as you enjoy a picnic. Chances are, you will have so much fun and feel so relaxed that you will be eagerly planning your next adventure. If you want to enjoy a longer vacation, maybe three or four days, consider exploring our great state from top to bottom or left to right. Visit a festival in a small town you’ve never seen, explore one of our wonderful state parks, discover a farmer’s market in another town for fresh produce, attend an outdoor concert or sporting event … even a Little League game to bring back memories of fond days gone by when your son or daughter played ball. The sky is the limit, which is another thought, how about skydiving? If you have more than three or four days to take a vacation, wahoo!!! Seek out a new location, one that has been on your list for years and explore this new territory with vigor and wonderment.

My hope for you during this vacation and beyond is that you will have reconnected with your family, yourself, your values and your inner child, and you will return to the office with a better idea of “what you want to do/be when you grow up.” Just remember, don’t ever grow up!•

__________

Sharon McGoff is a graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, a certified personal trainer and health fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine, and a certified life and wellness coach with WellCoaches, Inc. She owns Fit 4 Life Coaching and welcomes your questions or comments at Smcgoff@comcast.net. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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