When I was a kid, every summer I would make a list of goals to complete by the time school started up again. As nerdy as this sounds, which it was, it was also self-preservation as I spent a lot of time in isolation in the middle of the woods with the closest kid in age for miles and miles being my older brother (and we tired of each other quickly).
Usually this would be broken down into daily or weekly tasks such as ‘run a mile every day’ (to be fair, the mile test was a real thing I was awful at and our driveway was legitimately half a mile long so it seemed like a good way to practice). I would learn calligraphy or study algebra (again, I was bad at algebra so I wanted to stay on top of my lessons). I even went so far as to concoct a Hogwarts-themed schedule a la Hermione Granger to keep myself busy and motivated to study. During the school break…
This habit has lessened (keep the nerd flag flying but slightly lower…) but I still tend to make to-do lists for holidays to make sure I see what there is to see and do the things there are to do and definitley eat the things there are to eat. This strategy ensures I maximize my time somewhere and reduces the chance of regret or missing out. You know what else it maximizes? Stress. FOMO. So much FOMO. And is the kryptonite of a relaxing and chill vacation.
Currently, I’m on a bit of a walk about having left my job of 7 years (aka as long as Meghan Markle acted on Suits) and gone on perma-holiday for the foreseeable future. And as I find myself without a schedule, without benchmarks or goals, I also find that I’m allowed to just not–to be still, to sleep in, to be lazy. The other day, having explored several Wats in Chiang Mai, I felt at a loss of what to do next. I started to worry about what to do, what I was missing and it’s so hot here! So I didn’t, I went back to my hotel, cooled off in the pool and just read a magazine. There is magic in stillness and you’re allowed to slow down and just not.
Don’t get me wrong, there will still be FOMO and to-do lists but it’s also acceptable to just do nothing. If what makes you happy is reading for hours on end or sleeping in or watching that movie you’ve had on your list on Netflix for months, then just do that. There are no vacation rules! And in the eternal words of Sheryl Crow, “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”.