Why Wait for Italy?

After 14 years of marriage, my wife and I finally went on our 10-year anniversary vacation to Italy last May. Since then I’ve been telling friends and co-workers that Italy was the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited (the video above shows Lake Como, The Cinque Terre and Milan) … and the trip was too short.

I’ve lived in four different regions of the United States and have traveled abroad several times. And while those places were also quite beautiful – the Pacific Northwest, Scotland, Montreal, the Philippines – I realized what I love the most is what I call The Vacation Mentality: being in a relaxed frame of mind and making choices based on joy, passion and ease. There is a phrase that many of us say to justify this mindset: “I’m on vacation, dammit!”

The problem is that many of us allow ourselves to think this way only during vacation, which is approximately 7-21 days out of 365. We seem to think that maintaining a more serious-minded approach for the rest of the year is necessary in order to survive and pay our bills. My brother-in-law talks about how many vacation and sick days he’s able to carry over into the next calendar year almost with a sense of pride.

Why wait for vacation to allow ourselves to have The Vacation Mentality? What if throughout our day we took a little time to be still for a moment, took a couple of deep breaths, and then asked ourselves, “If I had a Vacation Mentality at this moment, what would it lead me to do right now?”

Many of you are probably saying, “Well I can’t just follow my sense of ease and enjoyment at work. What I really want to do is go watch a movie. I’d be fired! I have to feed my kids. I have to pay my mortgage!” I’m not saying that you should use this mantra to justify quitting your job. Most likely if you are thinking this, you are reacting to desperate anxiety-ridden impulses and not responding with ease and joy.

Since traveling to Italy, I’ve been asking myself The Million Dollar question: If I had millions of dollars, what would I really want to do? I used to say I would never work again and that I’d travel or nap all day. Now I realize that relaxing on the couch seven days a week would drive me stir crazy as it would many of us. I would still choose to be active (build a new career, do some house chores or cook dinner for my family), but I would do it in the relaxed enjoyable manner of The Vacation Mentality. But do I really need millions of dollars to do this?

So ask yourself throughout the day, “I am feeling pressure as I complete this task, but where is the opportunity for ease and enjoyment here? How can I shift my thinking to change this from a ‘have to’ to a ‘want to’?” If you took the time to be still on a regular basis, you may be able to hear your intuition whispering to you, and maybe it’s telling you to remain in your current position but just find more passion. Even if this is the case, if we took the time to be still and find the inspiration and joy in each activity throughout the day, eventually those moments would add up to be a relaxed and enjoyable life – then we’ll have been on vacation all along.

Writing from my core,

Mike