Imagine the scene. I’m in the car with my mother, traveling to our destination, when we both realize we’re lost. While being lost may seem like something stressful or frightening to most people, my mother isn’t most people. Her reaction to having no clue where we were: “Pretend we’re on vacation!”
What in the heck does that mean? It’s a new phrase for you, I’m sure. But it is something that I’ve heard her say a million times over the course of my lifetime. (I’ve also heard her say, a million times, that the REAL four food groups are bread, wine, cheese and chocolate, but that’s a story for another day.) My mom likes to experience new things, goes on adventures, and generally tries to ensure that she and everyone around her have a good time. So whenever we’ve taken a wrong turn, are going someplace we’ve never been before, or are just enjoying the day together, she’ll exclaim: “Pretend we’re on vacation!”
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize the power of that thinking. Here’s what those four simple, and seemingly innocent words can do:
- Your perspective on a situation changes. You step back and look at it in a new way, removing the angst or uncertainty. You’re able to view the surroundings, and the people around you, through fresh eyes. You drop preconceived notions about what should be, and explore what could be.
- Fear is replaced by excitement. Chances are, you do things when you’re on vacation that perhaps you wouldn’t think to do at home. Maybe it’s ziplining or taking a spin on a motorcycle. You drop the fear when you’re on vacation because it’s exciting in that environment.
- You try new things. This is a result of points one and two above, but it’s also the result of wanting to absorb every possible experience your vacation has to offer. Consider what things you’re not experiencing now that you could if you placed yourself in a different frame of mind.
- You live in the moment. You’re present. You’re sitting on a beach listening to the waves crash. You’re hiking through the mountains and connecting with your surroundings. You’re sitting at a table in a sidewalk café taking in the people and culture around you. All without your cell phone, and without distraction.
- Your enjoyment of what you’re doing increases exponentially. (And if you’re not having fun on vacation, you’re doing it wrong.)
The next time you’re faced with a challenge, fear, or hesitation, I encourage you to consider this way of thinking. If the perceived constraints of your daily world were to melt away, what could you accomplish? What experiences might you have? How could you gain more satisfaction and enjoyment from your work and life? Say to yourself, “Pretend I’m on vacation!” Then see how your perspective changes.