I’m a vacation daydreamer.
If there’s something fun on my calendar to look forward to, I’m happy.
Apparently this is not a bad thing. About a year ago, I took the Clifton StrengthFinders assessment and found out that one of my top five strengths is that I’m “futuristic.”
At first I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of that. Futuristic brought up goofy images from the Jetsons. Flying cars. Living on the moon. Robots.
Futuristic? That wasn’t me.
Then, as I read the description, one line struck me: “When the present proves too frustrating and the people around you too pragmatic, you conjure up your visions of the future and they energize you.”
Oh, yes. That was me.
This is exactly what my vacation daydreaming is all about. I get lots of energy dreaming about the wonderful things that are possible in the future.
Yet, as you might already guess, our greatest strengths are often connected to our greatest weaknesses. They’re “two sides of the same coin,” as the saying goes.
What could possibly be the downside of my futuristic tendencies?
Sometimes I’m so busy building my castles in the sky that I short-change what’s going on today.
Recently, in fact, I’d been so looking forward to an upcoming vacation as a time to decompress that I’d nearly forgotten there was plenty I could do right now to unwind. (And I was pretty wound up.)
Does this ever happen with you?
Do you ever find you’re so invested in something happening in future that you’ve essentially given up on changing your present?
I find this happens a lot with far-away, alluring goals. We start to believe we can’t experience any of the benefits of a goal until we’ve fully achieved it. Almost without realizing it, we are led to think things like this:
- I can’t feel attractive until I lose 10 pounds.
- I can’t enjoy my living space until I own my own home.
- I can’t feel financially secure until I get a raise.
- I can’t enjoy my work until I get a new job (or boss).
- I can’t pursue my hobby until I go down to part-time, or retire.
- I can’t relax until I’m on vacation.
I confess: That last one was definitely mine.
It is certainly odd that a positive goal (like taking a relaxing, fun vacation) can lead to some nonsensical and even unhealthy beliefs. I guess it’s just the way our minds work.
The way around this tendency, I’ve learned, is that with every goal, you need both a future plan and a daily plan for it.
Here’s one way to do this:
- Define your goal for your future. What is it? When do you want it by? How will you make it happen?
- Think about why you want this goal. What result are you really looking for? Do you want to be more relaxed? Happy? Confident? Peaceful? Free?
- Find one way to create this end-result for yourself every day, as you’re aiming for your bigger goal. Even if you’re just giving yourself a very small taste of it.
This is how I started taking “mini-vacations.”
To start, I thought about what I like to do when I’m on vacation. I like to read. I like to be outdoors. I like to stretch out in the sun. I like to eat delicious, colorful food.
I also began thinking about how much I like the person I am when I’m on vacation. I’m relaxed and flexible. I take initiative with making fun plans and adventures. I enjoy meeting new people.
Nearly every day now, keeping these things in mind, I watch for opportunities to take a “mini-vacation”.
That’s why yesterday, after I got in 30 minutes of exercise on my mountain bike, you would have found me sprawled out in the tall grass below our house, soaking up sun and watching the passing clouds.
What about you?
What’s one inspiring, far-off goal that you could make happen for yourself today, in a small yet meaningful way?
Or maybe you just want to start with your own mini-vacation too. Go on. No need to wait for HR to approve it. You’re the boss here.
P.S. I often ask my clients to take the StrengthsFinders assessment and I recommend it for you too. Especially if you ever struggle to articulate your natural talents to yourself and others. It can be insightful!