We’ve just returned home from a week at the beach, and once again, it caused me to evaluate the whole of my life. The last day of vacation, travel day, is typically the worst of the entire trip. Understandably so because we’re usually worn out, tired, and jet lagged. Most travel days are fraught with familial arguing, short tempers and long sighs. But underlying all of that tension is not just exhaustion. More often than not, it’s the frustration, albeit sometimes just subconsciously, about the life we’re returning to.
After having time off from reality, the life we’re really living is waiting for us to climb back into it. We step into our familiar routines, jobs and social circles as if we’d never left. A week’s worth of rest and relaxation can be undone in the first hour we’re in the office again.
If you’re like many people, you probably spend some of your vacation fantasizing about overhauling your life; new job, new house, maybe we’ll live here on this island and sell frozen drinks on the beach? Braid hair? There have been plenty of my own vacations in the past where I would think that if the Zombie Apocalypse should happen before I went back to work, that would be preferable. I would have chosen battling the un-dead over the grind of Corporate America (if you’re thoughts include praying for the Rapture, a power grid shutdown or any number of natural disasters to get you out of work, you may want to update your resume and make a change). It begs the question, “does it have to be this way”?
I feel that getting away from your real life, and then returning to it, is a great litmus test as to whether or not you’re living the life you should be. We can all say, “well, this is just how it is. This is the real world, suck it up and deal” or “time to get back to reality”. Is that the truth?
Are we really living the life we’re meant to live if we dread returning to just about every aspect of it? Returning from vacation is a great time to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. And why do we feel powerless to do something about it? Why don’t we feel like it’s worth doing something about it? Most likely because just the idea of making big changes is overwhelming, let alone actually making those changes. However, can we eat the proverbial elephant one bite at a time? (By the way, whoever came up with that phrase…um, gross). Before we do that though, let’s look at making a case for change. Here are some things to consider:
- The common denominator among successful people is that they all equate their success to doing something they love.
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Steve Jobs (brainyquote.com)
My general attitude to life is to enjoy every minute of every day. I never do anything with a feeling of, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to do this today.’ Richard Branson (brainyquote.com)
- When we’re doing the things we love, we’re bettering more than just ourselves.
“Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.” Johnny Carson (brainyquote.com)
“The more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything: the better you are with your loved ones, the better you are with your enemies, the better you are at your job, the better you are with yourself.” Bill Murray (brainyquote.com)
- Our natural-born human condition is to feel and be joyful.
“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” Buddha (quotehd.com)
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
- If you deny the truth of who you are, you will struggle with contentment.
For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul. Jesus Christ (Mark 8:36)
The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself. Ralph Waldo Emerson (quotegarden.com)
So this is all well and good, but how and where do we begin? We could study philosophy and spiritual texts all day long, but at the end of the day, it begins within ourselves. How many more of your precious days are you willing to surrender being less than who you were called to become? And are you okay with that? Most of us aren’t in a position to make major life changes over night, so just start with today. What can you do today? A few ideas to get you started:
- Forgive anyone and everyone you haven’t already forgiven. The baggage you may be carrying around needs to be emptied.
- Seriously evaluate your career. Are you strictly doing your work for the money? Is your job making you sick? (stress, anxiety, sleeplessness) Are your Sunday nights ruined because of thoughts of Monday morning?
- Consider every one of your relationships one at a time. Is there anyone in your life who drains you emotionally, to the point that when you’ve spent time with him/her you feel worse about yourself and physically exhausted? Ask yourself why they are still in your life.
- Make a list of the areas of your life that you want to give your attention to. Then, consider how much time and energy you are currently giving to those areas. Where can you make changes? What can you cut? Are there things you’re doing only because of a self-imposed belief of obligation? No need to take action yet, just get a list going.
- Update your resume. Even if you ultimately decide that you are in your current job for the right reasons and you never send your resume to anyone, going over your accomplishments once in a while can uplift your spirits.
- Ask yourself if there is something new you’d like to learn that you haven’t allowed yourself to do. Stop in at a bookstore or your local library and read up on it. You might start a new hobby or begin to pursue a new career path.
- Do you have enough time in solitude every day, or even a few times a week? Even just five minutes at some point in your day to breathe deeply, say a prayer, meditate, clear your head, whatever it takes just to STOP. Start giving yourself this time.
- Let go. What are you wrapped up about in your thoughts that you need to let go of? Is your floor dirty? Your laundry piled high? Your to-do list running onto a fourth page? Your weight ten pounds too high? Your neighbor gossiping about you again? Let.It.Go.
- Are you allowing the people who love you to love you? Are you rejecting the very connections you’re craving without realizing it?
- Is there a nagging inside of you that has been telling you for years you are not living the God designed life you were meant for? Is there something you’ve felt called to do that you’ve long ago buried? Give that some thought today.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you struggle with these same thoughts and feelings when you return to your life after a break? What are your suggestions of things we can do to start creating a life we want to come home to?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver (goodreads.com)