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Your next big thing starts with a real vacation

Dr. Ben Michaelis is a clinical psychologist in full-time private practice in Manhattan. He is a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University and a frequent guest on TV and radio.

​In order to live a happy and productive life you need regular periods of relaxation.

Photo credit: Allessandro Di Noia/iStock/360/Getty Images

People tend to think that by just not working that they are “on vacation.” This is an illusion, especially in an age when we can all work from just about anywhere. A true vacation is a break in your focus, efforts and work. It should help you restore and refresh your energy. But a vacation doesn't just happen. It requires a little planning. So how do you do it? You don’t need a travel agent. Just try these three simple tips.

1. Plan to stop planning

Downtime is most effective when you change your focus from doing to being. This means taking your attention away from planning and accomplishing to focusing on the present: your loved ones, your surroundings and yourself. This can be difficult to do in our modern over-technologized world, but it is critical.

2. Take a techno-sabbath

I advocate the adoption of a techno-sabbath during at least part of your vacation. This means that, to the degree possible (which is always more than you think), shut off your iPhone, and even texting for a while; even your thumbs need a holiday (yes, you really can do it, my record is 17 days). This should help you to stay focused on what and who is around you, oh, and yourself.

3. Change your clothes

Vacations do not need to cost a lot of money. Peace and detachment can be achieved without even leaving your home (see: staycation).

Although a change in location is a signal to your mind that you are doing something different, you don’t need to take a flight to get away. Wearing different, or ideally new "vacation" clothes is also a useful strategy to get you thinking like you are off-duty.

Let me be clear. I'm not an expert on vacations. Although the specifics of your downtime are obviously up to you, the take-away is to respect your time off. Honor your downtime, and yourself in order to “Let it Go.” (Yeah, I just quoted Frozen, you got a problem with that?)

For more tips on how to take a mini-vacation and how to get to Your Next Big Thing, check out my book, which I will be offering as a free Kindle ebook only through Amazon.com from May 17-21.


Dr. Ben Michaelis is a clinical psychologist in full-time private practice in Manhattan. He writes and speaks regularly about mental health, motivation, creativity and intelligent failure. Dr. Michaelis is the author of numerous popular and scholarly articles and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, SheKnows.com and many other prominent publications. He is also a frequent guest on national TV. He is the author of Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy. Follow Dr. Michaelis on Twitter, Facebook or email him at mailto:ben@drbenmichaelis.com

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