An insights from my trip is that I need to take more long vacations.
This the first vacation in a while where I truly got out of the rat race and was able to rest, relax, and do a little thinking about life without feeling driven to do things. My default state of mind has become what a couple of friends used to call my "v-max mode": get things done, kick down doors, do what it takes, go go go, fight for results. People who have lived with me (and hell, probably worked with me) know that this can be good or bad, depending on whether or not you are in my way or not.... ;) Not always, but it definitely becomes about the GOAL and not the process or being happy about it.
It isn't always great on the inside either. Oh, I like the sense of accomplishment, but I've become less enamored with the mindset it takes. I end up in a mode where I'm thinking 3 steps ahead. What's the next domino to knock down? I'm good at figuring out that these 3 things need to be aligned and if they do, I can knock them all down together. But I don't want to always be in that mindset.
I'd already known that 3-day weekends were a 'waste of time' for me. I almost never use vacation days to take 3-day weekends, except for special circumstances (i.e. friend coming into town, going out of town for a special occasion). Because, when it comes right down to it, I don't get far enough out of work mode to actually rest and enjoy those trips. Usually, I try to never take less than a full week off from work. A week is enough for me to actually rest a little.
The insight for this trip is that "a little" was actually smaller than I thought it was. Ignoring my injury and illness during this trip, what struck me in Moscow was that I was finally out of the mode of needing to do everything and see everything and overthink everything. It isn't that I hit a point where I was unmotivated; what I found was that I hit a point where I didn't feel that I needed to BE motivated to also be relaxed and happy. Oh, I was still thinking about stuff, but with less pressure to achieve "results". I was able to ask the questions "what do I really want or need right now?" without feeling like it must be immediately followed up with an implementation plan and a project review. ;)
I maybe have found a couple of insights there about relationships during that time. I want to write more about this in a future post, but the brief version is here: Yes, I'm still looking to build meaningful relationships and find a life partner (wife, serious girlfriend, pick your terminology). But I think I'm no longer so enamored with the idea that I need this drive to make me miserable and prevent me from building good friendships. I want to focus on building the friendships for a while, and if the right relationship comes along (meaning: mutual interest and agreement) then so be it. What I need to work on is communicating interest/attraction without necessarily necessarily having intent or a purpose-driven mindset behind it. Sometimes I move too fast and push too quickly, and other times I'm not willing to express things at all because I don't want to ruin the moment. Communication is hard. :) Anyway, this is really an aside to the main point of this post, and is mostly just here because I was able to find some insights on this trip. That hey, maybe I'm not feeling DRIVEN right now, and that's a good thing.
Worth noting that part of my process in life is somethings to document my reactions to things or challenges when I'm blocked: many of the posts I made about working in the Russian language during my trip fell into this bucket. When I was making those posts, I didn't really feel anxious or truly negative about them, even when they were documenting areas I was struggling with. Oh, I was frustrated a little during this trip, but I was able to go through all the stages of grief to acceptance. "Okay, I've got more work to do on Russian. So be it. I'll write it down now and figure it all out later."
ANYWAY, I don't know that anyone can ever truly get away from all of the stress and anxiety in their lives, but with a 3 week vacation, I definitely got farther than my 1 week trips have accomplished.
At this point my career, I get four weeks of vacation a year. I've usually been taking a few one-week vacations a year - April and September, almost always, with June being a possibility also. The rest of the days end up banked for future years or used for little side-trips and emergencies.
So I need to make a decision: can I get away with one one-week vacation in spring and fewer diversions in order to take a three-week vacation every year? Can I get the same relaxation out of a two-week vacation? Can I even choose better one-week vacations? I'm not sure what the answer is. :)
Of course, there's another side of this: how can I not dig myself so deep into "getting things done" mode that it takes me three weeks to dig myself out of it? How do I find extra time to regularly detach from the process and just check in to see how I'm doing? I do bite off more than I can accomplish, but some of that is WHO I AM! I'm not sure I know how to NOT do that. Maybe I do need fewer things that require maintenance time - the minimum investment to either stay where I'm at or move things forward.
I guess, when it comes right down to it, is that my goal, if I have one, is to find a way to continue to have my drive to accomplish great things and to try new things in a way that's healthy. I don't want to lose the drive, but I want to be the one in the drivers seat, not the monkey brain or the lizard brain. Those two modes kinda suck.
- Long vacations are goooooood!