Episode 87: Prepare for Your Summer Vacations

You’re listening to The Work Of Becoming podcast! My name is Dr. Karin Nordin. I am your host as well as a behavior change expert and self-proclaimed tornado girl. I spent years of my life struggling to change before I finally got my PhD and learned the psychological tools that I needed to actually make those changes happen. Now, I’m bringing you five-minute sneak peeks of how I’m applying the real science of self-help to my life. Let’s get started!

It hit me today, as I was starting to record, that these episodes are going to air in May, and May is basically the beginning of summer, which is wild! And so, I started thinking about my summer, which I’m doing a ton of travel this summer. I’m going to Indiana for a while to see Jon’s parents. We usually go there for about two weeks to stay with them, and then I am also going to Sweden to see my dad and my sister for a little pre-30th birthday kind of vacation type of situation. They live there. My dad and my sister live in Sweden. It reminded me of a mistake that I often see people make when it comes to vacations and summer. And so, for this particular episode, I want to tell you a little story about a client that I worked with.

So, this particular client was a mom. She had two kids — three kids? I can’t remember whether she had two or three. I don’t think I actually knew whether she had two or three. So, let’s say she has two kids, and her and her partner loved to take their kids on camping trips on the weekend. So, she had a bunch of camping trips lined up throughout summer, but one of the things that we were really working on with this particular client was her routine. She was a person who really, really, really thrived when she was in a steady routine, but, you know, like me — I’ve talked about this before — it was really difficult for her to stay in that routine, and then she’d get thrown off, and she’d kind of have this on-again/off-again wagon mentality.

These trips that she took during the summer would sometimes kind of trigger her to be off that routine. She had difficulty coming back from those particular trips, and so, one of the things we worked on was book-ending those trips and thinking about that two-day camping trip as, really, a four-day situation. So, there was the day before when she’s preparing for the trip, there are the two days of that trip, and then there’s the day of recovery, and this is something that we emphasize in Alliance Coaching all the time with our clients is that you need to be planning the before and after of vacations, work trips, large events in your schedule. This can even apply to something like if you have a big event or a big project happening at work or a deadline, what’s gonna happen right before that and what’s gonna happen right after that. Because the thing that I don’t see people do is they don’t give themselves an onramp and an offramp for those vacations.

I want you to imagine that you had to turn right onto a highway. There is a reason that we don’t do that because there would be car crashes because you can’t get up to speed fast enough, and that is the same reason why if you have a vacation planned, you need to ease yourself into it, and you also need to ease yourself out of it. If you expect that you’re gonna land on Sunday night, get back to your house, and then just, poof, pop back into a routine that next day on Monday, that is an unrealistic and non-compassionate expectation. Instead what you want to do is you want to have a smaller scaffolded version of what your routine is gonna be that Monday. You probably even want to build yourself time into that day to relax and recoup.

The last thing I want to remind you that’s very related to this is, yes, it’s a vacation, yes, it’s a trip, yes, it’s something that might be exciting and might be fun, but it takes a ton of resources, regardless of how enjoyable that is. It’s like the saying: “I need a vacation from my vacation.” Even if you’re going somewhere to relax in a cabin and do nothing but meditate and chill for two days, that still requires a lot of brainpower versus being at home and going about your normal routine. Our cognitive brain power is not unlimited, so we need to give ourselves time to, yeah, sit on the couch, yeah, maybe you’re not gonna do anything. Maybe you’re gonna give yourself a slow morning the day after that camping trip. Give yourself a compassionate onramp, and I guarantee you will have less of the on-again/off-again mentality that’s disrupting your routine right now.

That is what I’ve got for you today. That’s my reminder for your upcoming summer vacations. Let me know if this helped!

PS: if you are on a journey to become a better you, and you want to learn the tools and techniques that will actually help change your life, make sure you check out my Change Academy Membership. Each month, we do a 1.5-hour workshop on a different psychological topic, but we also provide resources like journal prompts, worksheets, and trackers. We host community events and more. If you’re struggling to close the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it, this membership was built for you. Go to www.karinn4.sg-host.com/change-academy to learn more!


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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.


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