How to Use Your Return from Vacation to Drive Continuous Personal Development

Returning from vacation can be tough.

How often do we hear our friends and colleagues say that they need a vacation from their vacation

It’s sad (but true) that many vacations end up being tiring and stressful events, with overly packed itineraries, long lines at airport security and traffic jams. 

These aggravations are only compounded when coming ‘back to reality’ means returning to a job, routine or lifestyle (not to mention mountains of laundry) that isn’t satisfying, rewarding or fulfilling.

But it doesn’t have to be this way…

I’ve found recently that returning to ‘real life’ from vacation need not always be depressing; rather, it can be a positive time that inspires change and supports continuous personal development.

Having just returned from an excellent, week-long trip to Northern California (San Francisco to Big Sur), thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the subject of returning from vacation, ideas I plan to implement myself in the coming days and weeks. 

Break a Bad Habit / Start a New Routine

Coming back from vacation provides a clean slate…

Just because you were living a certain way before vacation, relying on a certain routine, doesn’t mean you need to return to it…especially if your routine was filled with bad habits.

Did you exercise more on your vacation, taking walks after dinner, going to the gym in the morning or exploring the sights on foot during the day?  There’s no reason why you can’t incorporate more walking as part of your new daily routine.

Were you more adventurous on vacation, trying new foods and visiting museums/landmarks?  Try becoming a tourist in your own hometown some weekend and try a few new restaurants.

Since coming home to ‘real-life’ provides a fresh start, it provides a great opportunity to begin measuring your progress toward new goals and habits, perhaps using Seinfeld’s ‘Chain’ and tools like Joe’s Goals which I detailed in an earlier post.

Rebalance your Personal Balanced Scorecard

Did your long flight or long days relaxing at the pool provide you with an opportunity for reflection?  Did you have time to think about what’s most important to you and how the way you spend your time aligns with those values?

If you did, the fresh start of returning from vacation provides an excellent opportunity to revisit your priorities and to rebalance your personal balanced scorecard.

After an enjoyable vacation, perhaps getting your financial house in order is your utmost priority, so that you can enjoy travelling more regularly, or maybe fitness has become more important to you after a few days on the beach in a swimsuit! 

Priorities change over time, so too should your personal scorecard.  With your priorities in order, you can rest assured that your goals and actions are properly aligned, helping you to be as successful as possible in bringing about the change/results you want to achieve

Use Photos as Powerful Reminders

While I’ve never had to fight a personal battle like that of quitting smoking, I’ve been exposed to a tactic for quitting which I think is broadly applicable. 

Many smokers choose to place a picture of their children on their last pack of cigarettes, to remind them of why they’re quitting…to help ensure that they have many more healthy days to spend with their families. 

To promote your vacation savings goals, why not wrap a photo from your vacation around your credit card, to serve as a reminder of what you truly value (travel) the next time you take out your credit card to buy something that doesn’t align with your goals.  Many personal finance bloggers have recommended such an approach for tackling debt as well. 

Or, if your travels have inspired you to seek early retirement, to relocate or to change careers, why not update the desktop on your work PC (or Blackberry/iPhone) to be a photo of your favorite vacation spot, to inspire you to stick to your retirement savings strategy or to research new job opportunities?

A picture really is worth a thousand words…use that power to inspire positive change in your life.

Your thoughts? 

How do you feel when you get back from vacation? 

Are you refreshed and reinvigorated, ready to take on new challenges and reach new goals?  Or are you just as burnt out as when you left for vacation in the first place?

Did you enjoy this post?  If you did, please consider following me on Twitter, subscribing to my RSS Feed or sharing it with your networks using the buttons below. 

I welcome and look forward to your comments!

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2 Responses to How to Use Your Return from Vacation to Drive Continuous Personal Development

  1. Lezly says:

    Good post, I think coming back from a vacation gives you an opportunity to start off with several clean slates. I like to keep in mind that the actions I do for today, molds my tomorrow. The hardest part though, is finding that momentum.

    I, myself have a visual board that I tack up everything I want in my life. It’s a great reminder and it helps move you in that direction you want for yourself. I’m a firm believer of what you think–> creates your emotions, your emotions–>generates your behavior and your behavior creates your reality.

    Again, great post:)

    • Hi Lezly,

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and for sharing your excellent comment, it’s much appreciated!

      I like your ‘goal’ board approach…that’s a terrific idea!

      My scorecard for personal goals is a bit dry/tactical (though effective for tracking purposes), but your concept brings a lot more excitement and life to what you want to pursue…visualizing really helps make it more real.

      Thanks again. Looking forward to continuing the conversation as we both work toward our goals…will be sure to check in our your blog as well to see what you’re up to in the coming months!

      All the best,

      Geoff

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