Whether you're preparing for a tranquil beach retreat, an adventurous mountain escape, or simply some leisurely time away, the allure of the summer holidays is undeniable. Amidst the packing, I found myself reflecting on my approach to vacation planning, one that transcends the conventional checklist and seeks to intertwine my personal growth with leisure.
I confess! I used to approach vacation planning with a checklist mentality, believing that meticulously planned itineraries would lead to the perfect getaway. Yet, amidst the ticked boxes, I found myself unable to truly relish the vacation experience. Like countless others, I returned to work drained and overwhelmed. This tale might ring a familiar bell.
Through my 18 years of business travels, a revelation unfolded. I have reason to believe that the key to savoring a trip had more to do with my self-awareness than the length of my stay. As with all business trips, time is a scarce commodity. However, I realized that aligning my itinerary with my character strengths allowed me to intimately connect with each city I visited.
The 24 character strengths framework revealed that by acknowledging our own strengths, we're better equipped to identify and appreciate the strengths in others. This, especially crucial in today's challenging times, serves as the cornerstone of harmonious relationships. During those hurried business trips, I found myself relying on this principle to guide my prioritization of activities that nurture me in new and often unfamiliar surroundings.
This mindset has seamlessly transitioned into my vacation planning too! Now I must clarify what I am sharing is a personal experience, the approach is unorthodox and has never been proven by the VIA Character Institute. Instead of succumbing to the allure of glossy vacation snapshots or the envy-inducing social posts of friends, I started reflecting on activities that resonated with my core character strengths – those that align with my values. A day spent exploring a museum, immersing myself in artwork, and reflecting on newfound knowledge, emerged as a cherished vacation ritual. Unsurprisingly, these instances constituted a significant portion of my post-vacation contentment. This revelation came as no shock considering that my dominant character strengths encompassed a love of learning, perspective, curiosity, and an appreciation of beauty.
While I have no empirical research to validate my experience, there's a rationale behind my approach: engaging in activities that align with our primary character strengths significantly enhances our presence at the moment, alleviating rumination, boredom, and that nagging sense of dissatisfaction. Consider dedicating vacation time to pro-bono humanitarian work if kindness and fairness are your strong suit, or embark on a nature hike if appreciation of beauty and perseverance resonate with you. These examples aren't as far-fetched as we might think. I am pretty confident to many, this approach might seem obvious, as we've all encountered friends who tailor vacations around very specific activities.
One thing I would add is don't forget to use our vacation time to nurture our lesser-known strengths. A fast and easy way is to embrace the 80/20 rule! Let 80% of your vacation be dedicated to uplifting your core character strengths. Reserve the remaining 20% to step outside your comfort zone and explore lesser-known strengths. Let our vacation not only be a time to let our core strength flourish but a moment to expand our personal growth and self-discovery: an adventure within the adventure!
I hope this article encourages us to allow introspection in our holiday planning when planning for our next adventure. For those grappling with post-vacation blues or pondering the next destination, why not take let this perspective be the catalyst for a more fulfilling and purposeful time-out from work?