I’ve had my days of Monday dread, which kicked in with sobs at 7pm on a Sunday when you realized the weekend was almost over, or the fog that set in as your return flight from somewhere tropical started its airport descent. I have cried when unpacking my bags to find sand in my shoes from Costa Rica or mud on my boots from the Australian outback.
But these days, I’m the one shouting, “Hello, Monday!” and am beyond pumped and excited to get back to my awesome team when a stint away draws to a close. I’m not a workaholic (been there, done that), but unlike a lot of people, I don’t see the end of a holiday as a full stop on happiness. I believe you can create a life filled with so much everyday awesome that it becomes one you don’t need to escape from, making vacation the icing but your life still a decent slab of delicious cake.
Everyone needs time out and I’ll never stop that (I am writing this fresh from a catamaran stay in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef sans Wi-Fi) but the key to sustained happiness is creating a life you love in the small moments of the everyday. Don’t click away thinking that kind of world is far beyond your reach, because with a few small tweaks, you can taste those holiday vibes every day and be all the happier for it. Try these:
Ditch the 9-5 Mindset
Flexible working hours are the new black, giving employees a greater sense of freedom and, according to research, more hours of quality sleep. I’m not entirely a morning person, but one of my team members knuckles down from 5am most mornings (usually from a café or from the beach). Another gets busy once her kids are tucked in bed, moonlighting until 2am. That’s how we roll at my company Collective Hub, but even if you’re in a more structured workplace, you’re not physically shackled to your desk and it’s up to you to change the situation if you’ve allowed this to happen. Find or negotiate small pockets of flexibility for a sense of empowerment and autonomy – be it starting 30 minutes before everyone else so you can jog or visit the post office at lunch, working longer worker days across four days so you can take the fifth off, or working from home a morning or a day a week so you can put the washing on while you conference call. You’ll be amazed at how much sunshine a touch of flexibility can bring to your soul week on week.
Ease Up on the Rules
OK, to look at my Instagram feed you might think I’m a little virtuous. I always hit the office slurping a big green juice, insist on sweating out a few training sessions a week, and love nothing more than getting a nature fix. But behind the scenes (and screens) you will also find me munching on an egg and bacon roll and splurging on an iced mocha… with cream. And that’s OK! It’s essential to be healthy in life and I’ll prioritize that over almost everything, but I refuse to become a slave to fads or fashion. Personal indulgences shouldn’t be curbed or confined to holidays or Friday nights and that is where so many of us get tripped up. So find out what works for you, and what little indulgences make your heart smile and then, pepper your everyday life with them. (Anything harmful or illegal is clearly excluded!)
No, not your Snapchat or Instagram posse; I’m talking real, flesh-and-blood connections here. One of my favorite things to do is turn domestic goddess and put on a casual dinner for good friends–and my home has become something of a free zone, with pals often letting themselves in with a key to raid my wardrobe for a photo shoot–only to realize I’m actually sitting in the lounge room! There is NOTHING better than a house full of laughter, madness, and at times, tears. And there is nothing more horrible that the opposite. Gather your people around, and if you can’t cook then order in, host impromptu slumber parties, be the party organizer, and overall, put a value of developing deep connections with others to bottle that “happy holiday” feeling all the time. If you need to beef up your circle or are new to your hood, join the local sport, wellness, or book club, visit the same café so you become buddies with the barista, chat with your neighbours, or offer to walk someone’s dog—there’s nothing like a pooch to break the ice.
I’m a big believer in the power of daily playtime, no matter how old you are. I am the first to bounce on a trampoline, create sandcastles, accept a dare, or dance until dawn if the offer is on the table. On vacation, we suddenly seem more lightweight, free, and playful, but it shouldn’t be restricted to your allocation of leave each year. Do yourself a favor and add more play into your life generally, especially mid-week so you also avoid a case of “Monday dread,” which I personally refuse to entertain. Add a bit of silly to your day with a dance off (we’ve been known to at Collective Hub on a Friday afternoon, and I for one pretty much freestyle dance anywhere, anytime—I don’t need an excuse), do something spontaneous on a Wednesday night (you might laugh now, but in reality that is harder to orchestrate that you might think), scoot with your kids or your friend’s kids (serious fun to be had), take friends to a trampoline center for a catch-up instead of a coffeeship, join a nude art class. There is so much fun to be had in every day, if you’ll let yourself. So go on, bust out a move! I dare you.
Find a Stress Outlet
Part of the reason vacations are so incredible is that we have a chance to escape work and generally the pressures around us. The problem is that they will all be there when you get back home. The first 12 months of starting Collective Hub were pretty tough and I can honestly say I have had some super-stressful moments and middle-of-the-night freak-outs. But I won’t let them get the better of me, and when things get tough, I honestly get tougher. Get on the front foot with the stresses in your life—don’t just sit back and let them slowly crush you. Yoga, meditation, boxing, keeping a one-sentence journal of thanks or a gratitude jar, seeing a counselor, finding a mentor, acting on good advice, firing troublesome staff, getting a new job, or asking to shift into a new team can all help. Ultimately you are in the driver’s seat and your stress levels rest with the decisions you make each day to take control of your life. Do more of what makes you happy—don’t just “like” the Instagram post, put it into action!
And Finally… Don’t Be Trapped
Because you have the power. Be honest with yourself and have the courage to change direction if you’ve created a path that will intrinsically make you unhappy—be it a business opportunity, partnership, or project. Never stick with something that doesn’t feel like it’s part of your lifelong purpose or passion, because that is when you’ll be incredibly unhappy, watching the clock at work, hanging out for a Friday, and desperate to escape your everyday life. Your gut will know the way.