in Introspection, Psychology

The clarity of purpose and perspective that comes from taking time off

I’m currently on vacation with Kim’s brother and his family. We’re enjoying a much-needed beach retreat.

Before we left for this trip, I felt overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed by U.S. politics. I was overwhelmed by my work at Get Rich Slowly. I was overwhelmed by the things that needed to be done around the house.

Now that we’ve been away for a few days, though, none of the things that had been weighing on my mind before I left take even a bit of mental energy. I made it through all of yesterday without an inkling of concern over all of the chores that I was worried about last week.

This is nothing new.

I’ve noticed that same thing happens whenever I take an extended vacation. Up until the last minute, I’ll be frantic trying to get things done. As we leave the house and head to the airport or drive to our destination, I’ll still be upset at myself for not finishing more of the tasks I had set for myself. During the first night, I’ll still be thinking about my unfinished work.

Then, gradually, my problems fade from my mind. I forget about them. I shift my attention to living in the moment. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I value vacation so much: It’s the only time that I allow myself to be fully present in the moment. Most of the time in daily life, I’m too caught up in fretting over the past and worrying about the future.

From past experience, I know that this shift in attitude sticks with me for a few days (or a few weeks sometimes) after we return home. The vacation grants me perspective. I’m able to view my to-do list with greater clarity. I make better decisions after a trip than I do before a trip. Then, slowly but surely, I revert to my default mindset. I become overwhelmed again.

I wish there were a way to somehow capture this mindset in a bottle. I would love to be able to take a pill or to sip something that grants me this insight, if only for an hour each day. I think it would help me be a happier, more capable human being.

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