Taking a Daily Vacation

It’s easy to live on “automatic pilot.” Yet doing precisely the things you have to do, or are supposed to do, day after day can make you become nearly robotlike and feel life is growing stale and ho-hum.

You can change all of that. With a bit of planning and direction, it’s possible to pack the fun and excitement of a vacation into short daily spurts. You can enjoy a change of pace, a change of attitude, and a lot less stress.

Learning to take a daily vacation is learning to recreate and re-create you. A daily vacation is more than just a lull in routine. It is a piece of time when you wholeheartedly pursue something you truly enjoy.

There are few pressure-cooker jobs comparable to that of being president of the United States. Yet many of our presidents knew the secret of taking a daily vacation. President Harry Truman, for instance, loved to play the piano. Theodore Roosevelt and many others had the knack for enjoying themselves in concentrated intervals. They didn’t just take a break from their duties; they immersed themselves in something they really loved.

A daily vacation can be packed into as little as 10 or 15 minutes a day and still can be stimulating and invigorating. If you can spend a half hour–or even more–vacationing daily, so much the better.

I once worked with a fellow, Mike, who “disappeared” every day at lunch-time. He would be gone for an hour, and when he returned he was usually full of energy. No matter how demanding the morning had been, and the pressures and problems he had had to deal with, when he returned from lunch he was usually refreshed and full of life.

What was Mike doing during his lunch hour? Taking his daily vacation by pursuing his passion–photography. He would eat a light lunch, then get out his camera and go hunting for pictures waiting to be taken. For nearly an hour a day he would stroll through nearby parks, shopping centers, or vacant fields, or visit a construction site. Every day he would capture on film children playing, birds and small animals in their natural settings, perhaps the progress of a building under construction. He’d experiment with camera angles, lighting techniques, lenses, filters, and different kinds of film.

Not only did Mike become an accomplished photographer; he had a great time doing it. We worked a lot of overtime at that company, often on weekends and days off. Mike could have sat around at breaktime and lunchtime complaining about how he never had time to relax or pursue his photography. Instead, he took his photography pleasure in small bits every day and enjoyed it immensely.

Enjoying a daily vacation takes commitment, planning, and the willingness to take pleasure in short bursts, rather than waiting for large chunks of time–time that too often never seems to be available. A daily vacation and a routine break, however, is not the same thing. A break is just a pause in your normal routine. A daily vacation is time planned for enjoying yourself.

Most of us probably have at least a couple of things we really enjoy doing–and would do more of it if we had the time. That time is available. If you plan just 15 minutes a day of “vacation” time, that’s 105 minutes every week, or 91 hours a year! That’s equal to more than two working weeks of free time.

What can you do on a daily vacation? Any activity that pulls the real you out of your routine-bound, clock-controlled day. For instance, you may enjoy reading but rarely have an hour or two to sit down with a book. You can, however, carry a book to and from work and absorb yourself in it, and enjoy it during breaks and lunch period. It will probably take weeks to finish a book. So what? Those minutes absorbed with a favorite author can be freeing and exhilarating every day.

Vacation activities can be diverse, and the further they are removed from daily routine, the more enjoyable and refreshing they usually are. It’s the same with daily vacations.

Several people I work with discovered they each have a deep interest in the Bible. Three days a week at lunchtime they spend a half hour together in one of the company conference rooms studying and discussing Scripture. As Diane, one of the participants, told me, “I feel terrific after our Bible study. I feel more alive and ready to work.” Her reaction to the every-other-day minivacation is pretty typical of the way most people feel who start taking such “outings.”

Robert Pelton, an expert on survival and preparedness, has authored more than 120 books in the past 25 years. He’s constantly researching, interviewing, writing, and promoting his books. Nevertheless, he takes a daily half-hour vacation no matter where he is.

A lover of classical music, he has his “symphony time” every day. “I put one of my favorite CDs in the stereo, lie down on the couch, and lose myself in the music. I let it embrace me,” Pelton says. When the music ends, he’s ready to go back to writing. Only the most pressing matters deprive him of his symphony time.

Those who have discovered the joy of daily vacations tend to guard the minutes jealously. It is a period of time they relish–a time when they can forget everything else and be free just to enjoy themselves.

If you’re a person who enjoys many different pursuits, so much the better. You can plan different daily vacations for different days of the week or weeks of the month. Or you can pursue one activity for several weeks and then switch to another. It’s up to you. The important thing is to plan and pursue the things you enjoy.

A surprisingly large amount of stress in our lives is caused by the seemingly endless regularity of everyday living. A daily vacation can be a release from sameness and stress. You get to take total control of at least some of your time, and in doing so, you start putting life back into living. You not only get to enjoy your “vacation” time, but you will find yourself enjoying more of the other parts of daily life too.