Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Refreshed and Recharged... Vacation and HLS Takeaways

It's amazing what a little time off can do to improve one's clarity and attitude. I'm coming off of my first week-long vacation since mid-summer 2010 and it was honestly the BEST week I've had in a long time. Not only was I able to spend quality time doing the things I love but I was able to take a step back to relax, de-stress and refocus my priorities - both personal and professional.
Entrance to Nauset Beach on Cape Cod... one of the best places to de-stress
Although I feel very lucky to work in an industry that I truly have a passion for, my weekdays are split between 3 different jobs and can sometimes get pretty long.  This is especially true on days when I am up early for a 6am client and unable to fit in my own workout until after 7pm.  I like to think of myself as an upbeat, positive person but, over time, even the most enthusiastic worker will succumb to the effects of routinely burning the candle at both ends.

I'm pretty sure this vacation saved my sanity.

Personally speaking, I was able to enjoy all of the summer activities that make me happiest...

  • visiting jewelry shops with my dad in Chatham
  • singing and dancing like nobody's watching at outdoor concerts with good friends/family
  • lounging in my beach chair at Nauset Beach, past 4pm, reading, listening to waves crash
  • saltwater-scented early morning runs along Bank St. Beach in Harwich Port
  • al fresco dining... which of course included a little day-drinking :)
  • eating my favorite white chocolate raspberry swirl fudge from my favorite Cape Cod candy store
Post-jewelry shopping dinner in Chatham at The Impudent Oyster.  Yum.
I also got to hang out with my precious 6-month old twin nieces (a favorite activity regardless of the season), went camping along the coast of Maine (still have the 62 mosquito bites to prove it) and spent a fantastic girls' day by the pool with one of my BFF's.

Amazing sunset at Hermit Island, Maine
Not included in my fun vacation activities: checking any of my five work-related email accounts (yes, FIVE).

I was reminded of how important it is to keep that work-life balance in check.  It's actually caused me to add another goal onto my 20(in)12 List: "Do at least one thing each day that makes you truly happy and more productive."  I didn't fully realize until my vacation but between my work hours and the energy that goes into constantly switching gears between jobs, I was on a slow descent to "burning out".  The weird thing is, even though I was working a TON, I didn't feel as though I was necessarily getting much accomplished.  I've always taken pride in my work ethic but my priorities were out of whack.  I was also neglecting to put effort towards taking care of MYSELF... being a Wellness Program Manager, the irony is not lost on me :)  

Truthfully, if I want to be successful in my career, I need to get my mind right.  Happiness and productivity are not mutually exclusive. A happy employee is a productive and engaged employee. Life is just too short to spend it being burnt out.

Healthy Living Summit

My vacation also enabled me to spend time processing takeaways from the Healthy Living Summit and, as a result, refocused my professional priorities.  As I mentioned in my last post here, I started off my vacation by participating in the Healthy Living Summit (HLS), which is an annual weekend conference for bloggers and blog readers interested in all aspects of healthy living. I found out about it a few weeks beforehand purely by chance and, being a brand new blogger, thought it would be beneficial for me to attend.  It was also being held about 5 miles from where I live, so definitely had to take advantage!

Unexpected "takeaways" found in my bag after the summit... whoops
Due to prior commitments on Friday and Saturday evenings (which may or may not have involved lots of singing and dancing at outdoor concerts), I wasn't able to make it to all of the summit activities but was still able to join in the workshop sessions on Saturday and the "fun run"/breakfast on Sunday morning.

I learned a lot about the world of blogging and social media, listened to presenters who had tremendous insight on creating a successful blog and met a number of fellow bloggers from across the country.  My introverted self was a bit nervous leading up to HLS (making small talk is not high on my list of favorite things to do) but it helped that I knew another participant - my co-worker and Trendy Trainer, Caroline.  There's also something comforting about being surrounded by like-minded, healthy-living people... kind of like when I go out for an early morning weekend run and see other runners along the way.

New blogger friends :) Photo courtesy of Studio Eats
Back: Hannah, Jamie, Shannon, Jamie, Caroline, Melissa, me
Front: Melanie, Kristin, Ashley
Ok, so a few of my takeaways...

1.) Being at HLS made me realize that blogging will be an invaluable tool for me as I further my career.  One of my dreams is to freelance write for health and fitness publications.  I plan to use my blog not only to motivate others but to hone my writing skills and find my "voice" like so many of the presenters encouraged. I've started auditing a writing class, signed up for a few webinars and have lots of fun ideas for my blog, inspired by being at HLS.

2.) I've been a bit hesitant to share my blog with others thus far... not many people even know I have one... but being around other HLS bloggers made me excited to start taking it public.  I think my hesitation comes from waiting until I have my blog perfect even though I know that perfection doesn't exist... as the title of one of the blogs that inspired me to start says, it's all about "progress, not perfection" :)

3.) HLS has also inspired me to devote the right kind of energy into my career. Pareto's Principle states that "80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes."  Basically, 80%  of my results will come from just 20% of my time and effort.  Therefore, if I shift my focus to the most important 20% of my tasks then I will be happier and more successful in the long run... Not only will I will actually get things accomplished but in the process, I'll free up more time to do the things I love!

4.) Business cards.  I was one of the few who did not have them and wish I did!  Lesson learned... much easier to network with business cards.

5.) Finally, HLS reminded me to "run my own race", so to speak.  Focus on being unique and staying true to myself. Align my personal brand with my core values and goals. Solid advice to live by no matter what you're trying to achieve.

Staying true to myself and to this blog means helping others find and maintain their fitness "moejo" through various sources of motivation... music, workout ideas, recipe/hydration tips, personal experience, etc... I look forward to writing about it all!

Thanks for reading... sharing and comments encouraged!

Happiness is a niece in a yellow bonnet

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