This past week, I took four full days ‘off’ in the rural expanses of eastern Missouri – it was a time I desperately needed in order to unplug, refocus, and reorient the mission of Social Change Nation. It’s interesting to me that a common conception in our society is that ‘vacation’ time can only be a time to totally unplug from all things life, and it can be! But, ‘vacation’ time (and I’d totally define my time in Missouri as vacation) can also be a time for us to reorient our lives, throw some focused intensity at the causes dearest to us, and ultimately find our purpose in this life.
Incidentally, that’s exactly what I chose to do these past few days, and they were some of the most restorative days I’ve ever experienced. As social entrepreneurs, we face both the traditional pressures and distractions of entrepreneurship along with the emotional drains of immersing ourselves in the massive social injustices that we seek to alleviate.
Social Change Nation, while the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of, was beginning to drain me – I was distracted, unfocused, and – dare I say – even discouraged at times. But no more. And it’s all because I recharged with a ‘restorative retreat’. Here are the 5 strategies I used to turn my vacation into a purpose-cation:
1.) I Ditched the Car. …and hopped an Amtrak train to my final destination. This meant I was effectively ‘trapped’ for four days – no distractions, no way to get to them, and no way to lose focus on my primary mission: to refocus the work of Social Change Nation.
2.) I Got Into Nature. Everyone talks about this, but it really can’t be overstated – get into a natural setting, watch the sun set, and the sun rise, find some animals (I was on a horse farm, so this was pretty easy for me…) – have a look at a sky full of stars. Nature has a tremendous restorative power, and getting back in it led me to some of the most creative and practical ideas I’ve had in a long time.
3.) I Had a Short and Simple set of Goals. There were just two specific things I wanted to accomplish: relaxation and a crash course on podcasting. No other ‘work related’ activity allowed in. I shut off my email, ignored my phone, and focused only on these two things. As a result, I walked away with months worth of knowledge and goals in just 3 days. Focused intensity is a game changer.
4.) I RELAXED. This was going to be a vacation, so chill time was going to be woven into every aspect of it: I set no alarms, took regular afternoon naps, and made tons of calls to family and friends. As a result, my contributions to Social Change Nation and my progress toward the simple goals I set for the weekend were that much richer. No to mention it was just amazingly restorative!
5.) I Spoke to God. I do this regularly – but I was far more deliberate about this during my purpose-cation. I kneeled in the woods and conversed with God about the direction my life has taken, how grateful I am for all I’ve been given, and asked for his guidance as I continue down one of the most exciting (and terrifying!) journeys of my life. I expressed gratitude at every turn: for the sun rise and sunset, for the beautiful animals he’s entrusted us with, and for the love and support I’ve been blessed with in my life. It is rare that I take more than my daily moment to connect with God, but this weekend I made it a point to be prayerful at every turn – and it was the most meaningful part of the trip.
So, here’s my question for you – how will you use these strategies on your next vacation??