Today I completed what appears will become an annual tradition for me. I took a vacation that I am calling Retreat 17. The idea was to get away from everyone and everything in my world so that I could reassess everything in my life. This last semester especially was rough on me, notwithstanding the great love and appreciation my students expressed at the end of it all. Add to that some bleak circumstances in my personal life, and you get my need to just get away, reassess, and rejuvenate myself to embrace a clear path with better alignment to what I really want out of my life.
I chose Wyoming’s Star Valley for several reasons: surrounded by scenic mountains, fresh air, cooler temps from the higher elevation, and not a lot of people and certainly not anyone I knew. I spent most of my time there (4 days in all) doing some deep thinking about everything in my life. And I didn’t just tackle anything randomly. I made a list of all the aspects of my life I wanted to reassess and start anew. With that list in hand, I took each aspect individually and applied a five-step process:
I used this book very successfully in my first-semester-experience course this past term. It uses social science research to support a model for making positive changes that last. This model cites six influences that can derail our change efforts unless we account for them. Most people plan for one or two of these influences at the most, leaving the rest of those influences to work against them. It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
I followed these steps for every individual part of my life, so little wonder I filled 71 handwritten pages in my notebook. From those pages I extracted the individual action items (271 in all) that can get me started taking my life to the next level. Admittedly, 271 action items is a lot, but I need do only one item at a time. And having lots to do is great. It gives hope I’ve got endless opportunity to turn my life around, a realization that brings with it great empowerment.
I returned home yesterday feeling very powerful and very hopeful I can live the life I want. I spent some time today finishing the process for the final few items on my life aspect list. Now I have a new attitude. In that sense, my vacation was truly recreational because I came back re-created. This truly was the best vacation I’ve ever had. I’ll have to do this again next year!
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