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“Smile, you’re on vacation” a groundskeeper said to me as I passed him on the way to getting my nails done. I told him he should smile too, even though he’s working.

“I’ll smile on Friday, when I get my paycheck,” he aptly replied.

There’s something about vacation that has always made me smile. For a long time, I couldn’t put my finger on it. I’d dance around it, trying to incorporate more of the vacation mindset into my everyday life. Is it simply the traveling? Not really, because when I have to travel for work, it doesn’t have quite the same effect. Is it il dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing? That’s closer, because when I sit outside at home, close my eyes, and imagine the sound of the sea, for a fleeting moment I remember the sweet idleness of Positano (and other favorites from vacations past).

For me, in order to be truly awesome, a vacation must include:

  1. Traveling away from home

It’s #3 that differentiates the good from the great. I know I’ve achieved the “vacation mindset” when I can, for example, wander aimlessly through an unknown locale without a care in the world and stumble upon the best espresso I’ve ever had.

Notice how I didn’t include “time away from work” in the criteria above. I’m perfectly content to answer work email while I drink that delectable espresso.

I have no problem with working on vacation. My work is a key part of my life and I love my life — so that’s how I roll.

I’m passionate about my work, so I don’t need to completely unplug from it in order to feel rejuvenated. As long as I have outlets to charge my intellectual curiosity, I’m good.

And that’s the key — that’s how I bring vacation smiles to everyday life. Being curious. Being bold enough to try something new. And giving myself the free time and mental space to do that.

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Written by

Career Coach for Tech Managers. I help tech managers upgrade their careers, their teams, their paychecks, and their lives.

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