How to Relax and be Productive While on Vacation
"All we really have in the end are our memories" - unknown

While goal setting may often be seen as an exercise meant for professional, academic or long-term endeavours, we find equal beauty in setting goals to make the most out of leisurely experiences as well. We've found that setting goals for our vacations has helped us to optimize our emotional, physical, and spiritual reserves and to build memories together. Hence, the title: How to Relax and be Productive While on Vacation.

Moreover, we've found that when we infuse just as much time and energy into periods of self-care (i.e. during free time) as we do into periods of production (i.e at work), we're far more likely to feel happy and fulfilled as individuals. This of course helps to sustain and grow our relationship too.

In this post, we share with you the goal setting process that we use to plan our vacations, we provide you with a list of goals that we actually set for our honeymoon, and we share an important reflection about the process.

While we've chosen to contextualize this article for vacation planning, we also use the process when planning even a few hours of leisurely or self-care time.

Sample Process

  • Block time for your personal vacation: It can be any upcoming time period from a few hours to a few weeks, locally or abroad. Just ensure that you block that time for you (and your relationship).
  • Assess your personal and relational needs: Think about what your current and upcoming physical, psychological, and spiritual needs are. Be specific and ask yourself "why" to dig deep. Try to identify 1 or 2 needs for your body, mind, and spirit. They may be interrelated, which is great!
  • Brainstorm potential solutions: Without any judgment, draft some "solutions", activities, or commitments that you could do during your time off to address your needs. You can do this individually, together and with input from others to help you think outside the box.
  • Visualize your ideal day: Close your eyes and imagine you are on your personal vacation. What are you doing? Who is around? How are you feeling? What are you thinking? See what you can carry forward to the next step.
  • Prioritize and specify solutions: From the list and visualization, try to identify which of the solutions would best suit your needs as individuals and/or as a couple. Often, you can combine solutions too. Write them out in specific and measurable ways. Ensure that you feel good about them. They should bring joy to you. If they make you a little nervous, that's okay because it could mean it's something that will help you to grow or change.
  • Build-in accountability: For example, we agreed to Tweet and use social media for accountability purposes. You may also decide to share/check-in with your partner or friend when you have completed your goals.
  • Officialize: Write out your goals and place them somewhere where you can see them daily. We used check boxes so we could mark completed "tasks", but we encourage you to get creative with this part.
  • Visualize again: This will help reinforce what you've described as your ideal vacation together.

Have fun with it! Remember, the memories you create on the way to the goal are as important and sometimes more meaningful than achieving the goals themselves. You are literally building your life together moment by moment. Only this time, you're building it with a specific intention in mind.

During and after your  vacation, think about which of the practices you'd like to sustain during your busy season. Pick 1. It's good to integrate balance during our busy seasons.

Sample List

Here are a few of the goals we had set during the hotel part of our honeymoon this past summer:

The needs we had identified were: 1) Have fun together; 2) Intellectual growth; 3) Physical growth; 4) Lounge for a few hours a day

  • Experience an ideal day: Up at 9am, breakfast and lounging by the pool until noon, activities until the evening; gym and sauna before dinner; hanging out with new friends over dinner and into the night.
  • Mindful Eating: Notice each bite that you take, especially the first and last one of every meal.
  • Experience at least 1 new aquatic adventure
  • Explore the entirety of the resort during the first night
  • Get to know at least 6 new people
  • Listen to 3 podcasts and read the books we brought while lounging on the beach
  • Do a 30+ minute workout at the gym at least once a day
  • Relax in the sauna before dinner every day
  • Lounge while listening to the waves on the beach late at night
  • Treat all hotel staff exceptionally well
  • Write in our journals each night
  • Do 5 minutes of qi gong each morning

It Really Was About the Journey

As cliche as it sounds, it was about the journey, not the destination.

  • When we explored the resort at night, it was raining and there were toads everywhere! We had to be careful not to step on them.
  • Out of the 6 people we met, we met an amazing couple from Germany that we've kept in touch with until today and that we will surely see again.
  • We kayaked for the first time together and saw some pretty cool sea creatures.
  • We found great joy in focusing on building meaningful interactions with hotel staff and giving back to them.
  • While listening to our podcasts and reading our books in that environment, we were inspired and took back the knowledge to our daily work and personal lives

If you need extra inspiration for how to leverage travel for personal and professional growth, take a look at Robin Sharma's Mastery Session on "Potent Productivity Practices While Travelling".

Let us know if you have had a similar experience with doing something like this while planning your vacations -- feel free to let us know on our Facebook group or on Twitter using our #RelationshipZen hashtag and @zen_relationships. 

“And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, in dimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” - Pico Iyer