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Our guest blogger Adam Lanigan reflects on how he might bring a more relaxed persona into his everyday life. Is it even possible?
It’s that time of year when most of us are away on holiday or are just about to go away. Our holidays may only take up one, two or three weeks in a year but their importance far outweighs the percentage of time they last. Think of all the planning in the winter and spring months and the anticipation as the weeks count down during the summer. And then the magical memories that sustain us as the nights draw in through the autumn.
We have been back from our family summer holiday for a good few weeks’ now, having enjoyed one last trip outside of school term time before our oldest starts in a few weeks. We had a fantastic time and as always when having lots of fun, it went far too quickly. But then you return home and the realities of modern life kick in. So much so, that a few days after we had returned from our holiday, my wife said to me: ‘Why can’t you be more like holiday you?’
I was slightly taken aback by this remark as I had not perceived a difference in my behaviour. Yet it is a perfectly valid question and certainly one to reflect on. How many of us when sipping a nice cool drink in an idyllic location have asked ourselves, ‘Could we live here?’ Of course, it’s a point of fantasy because we know that the practicalities would never work out. I did an Erasmus university placement in Malaga in Spain when I was a student and I dreamed of one day owning an apartment in the city that overlooked the Mediterranean. Reading this blog now, I can tell you that my pipe dream was never fulfilled.
However, the issue about living in an idyllic location raises a deeper point about how holidays make us feel (or at least should do) – relaxed, chilled out, happy. It’s that vital chance to unwind, not get up early and face the morning commute. There is the opportunity to switch off from work and leave our principal worries and distractions behind. Eat good food, do fun activities, chat, meet new people. These are all aspects of a great holiday that help to refresh and stimulate us and are often the things that get neglected in a hectic family schedule.
But how quickly we can lose those once we return to the helter-skelter of normal, everyday life. Last year, within about two hours of returning home from a lovely week’s break in Anglesey, I was heading out to work for the evening. Obviously, work is important but to go from the beach at lunchtime to the office just after teatime is certainly pushing it. The holiday mode is shattered and suddenly generating work ideas or thinking about family issues leap from the back of my mind to the front.
So what can we do to keep those holiday qualities for longer? To a large extent, normal life will always catch up with us – work, school, nursery, the children, our parents, birthdays, children’s activities, illnesses. There is nothing we can do about that, and they are the fundamentals of life. But maybe it’s the time we waste that we can try to alter. Think of the countless hours we spend online with no particular purpose, scrolling through the constant churn of social media. Surely, we could use that time more constructively to do something we enjoy or that is far more fulfilling.
And what have I done to be more like holiday me? In my freelance schedule, I have allowed myself more time off to spend with Louise and the children. Having more weekends away in the diary to look forward is a good start. And I am trying to get back to doing more activities for myself – enjoyment and stimulation to bring back into the house is always positive. I have also gone back to something I believe everyone can do and that is through finding the simple pleasures. For me, that is a nice coffee in the morning or eating in the garden when the weather allows. Also finding the time to do the ten-minute walk to nursery to pick up the children rather than jump in the car, as a way of getting in exercise and having a chance to gather my thoughts.
These are all small things which can make a difference, but the conclusion I draw makes me sound like something my dad would have said to me when I was younger, and is apt given I am now a dad myself, ‘We can’t be on holiday all the time.’ Very true Dad, because then we would not appreciate the value of a great holiday.
And to those of you still awaiting that summer break, I wish you ‘Bon voyage’, you lucky things!