This client is not isolated in her feelings––I hear this complaint from most I work with. The majority of us, especially Americans, look forward to the weekend because we get to escape the grind. We live for vacations because they take us away from the concerns of everyday life––a life that is too sped up, too demanding, too compartmentalized, and one we are living in order to maintain the status quo.
We have been programmed to be industrious. We have been made to believe that being busy all the time is an admirable quality––that somehow it means we are more successful, and that we are contributing to our community more than someone who isn’t DOING and GOING all the time.
The grind mentality leads to unhappiness. Every time.
So, what to do. How do we shift this mindset without actually going on vacation, leaving our jobs, or throwing responsibilities to the wind?
The solution is to work with imaginative thought.
I asked my client to describe how she feels when lying on the beach in Jamaica, or when sipping the perfect cup of espresso in a darling Italian café.
Without a moment of hesitation, she excitedly responded with, “I feel Light! Energized! Relaxed! Sexy! Happy! I feel Free!”
I then asked if she thought it was POSSIBLE to experience those feelings amidst her life back home? At first she said, no. Then she paused, and said, “Sure it is POSSIBLE, it is just really hard to imagine.”
IMAGINE is exactly what you are going to need to do, I said. Then, I provided her an exercise to practice daily for just one week. If any of this message is resonating with you, I invite you to do the same.
Each morning, choose one vacation-generated feeling. For the sake of example, I will use LIGHT! As the day begins and unfolds, reach for only those words, thoughts, and actions that support you in feeling LIGHT.
The way this Imaginative Thought exercise works is like this: when you reach for a food that you know will make you feel heavy and crappy, it is easier to choose something more nutritious when you say to yourself, “This doesn’t support me in feeling light.”
Similarly, if you are on a call with someone, and you need to get on with your day, staying on the line is going to drain you. You are going to feel heavy. Ultimately, your agitation of still being on the line is going to cause you to become distracted and disengaged––not serving you OR them. Politely saying you have to go will support you in accessing that LIGHT feeling again.
Now, let’s say you want to feel more Sexy––the kind of sexiness you experience while sipping a glass of red wine, on a street café in Paris, wearing beautiful clothing, and engaged in meaningful conversation. What is stopping you from experiencing that same level of sexiness at home, on a random Tuesday night? Why wait to open that fine bottle of wine? Why not light candles and put on some moody music while you prepare dinner? You can invoke the whimsical feelings of a Paris vacation anytime! It just takes some imaginative thought.
See how the practice of building a life you don’t need a vacation from does not require you to stop being responsible? It does not require you to pack up your desk, stop taking the kiddos to soccer practice, or quit cooking dinner for the family. It allows you to still do these things, but with a little more flare, a little more balance, and a lot more fun!
I encourage you to grab a pen and paper, and write down all the yummy vacation feelings you can think up. Really take yourself to that charming market in Europe, the mountains of Switzerland, the forest where you love to camp, or the warm waters of the Caribbean. Really imagine being there. Feel the sensations in every cell. Be there in your mind, and then write down the feelings. From this list, choose one each day to sync up with.
Ten days after the session with my client, we met on the line again. I was coaching a completely different woman. She was more exuberant, optimistic, and at ease. She shared how over come she was by the ease of feeling good simply by focusing on just one vacation feeling each day.
I have practiced imaginative thought consistently for over three years. At first it took some focus and practice, but now it is effortless. Good feelings and activities are now seamlessly integrated with the responsibilities of my every day life. I assure you, I do not live for the weekend. Friday is no different than Monday, and a vacation is just a new set of adventures in a far away place.