The dark side of vacation and how our values guide us back home


By Corina Roobeck

Have you ever noticed that when you are on vacation a strange phenomenon can occur?

Suddenly all the self-imposed rules go out the door. Permission to sleep in, permission to drink more, permission to eat whatever you like. Tick all those boxes. All awhile that little voice in your head gets braver and louder “Go on, you’re on holiday, it’s a treat. You will go back to being ‘good’ when you get home. You deserve it… It’s just a couple of weeks, don’t be so serious, have some fun!”  Sound familiar?  Having just completed the summer holidays with the family, I am reflecting on my own behaviour. The good, the bad, the ugly.  Taking my carry-on, did I forget to pack my values?

Let’s start with the good.  I love family holidays. I love the spontaneous moments that occur when we live together. The meaningful and often funny conversations that result from being fully present and deep listening to the little ones. Conversations ranging from How does a same sex couple have a baby? and What is the impact of sugar on our health? to who they fancy in class. The banter, the teasing, the curiosity and the opportunity to share new perspectives and open up hearts and minds.

In our household vacation time is also a time to learn and grow. Guided by what excites them, the children deepen their skills and grow their confidence. The enthusiastic debriefs at the end of lessons, the occasional tears and tantrums as they chart their own way through the physical and emotional frustrations of learning.

The joy of having proactive help with dinner preparations, the creation of new rituals for example, pre-dinner mocktails made by the teenager of the house. Delicious healthy sodas made with all the panache of a professional mixologist. (Recipe – per glass: the juice of half a lemon, a cap full of apple cider vinegar or more to taste, a quarter dropper of liquid stevia, ice, fill glass with sparkling or still water, decorate with a lemon or lime twist on the side and some fresh mint).

And sometimes it’s also about making a stand. We all contribute to the domestic tasks so get off your backside and help carry the plates to the kitchen! Or we choose not to spend money on environmentally unfriendly crap to decorate a birthday celebration. We can still have a great time minus the glitter and take a small step in saving the planet. And let’s all remember to say our Gratitudes before we turn off the lights. I’m also pleased that on the occasional moment when the going got tough despite the challenges of different viewpoints, tiredness and sugar highs, we remembered to be kind to each other.

So, while vacations are attributed with many benefits ranging from all of the above, to recharging our human batteries to even helping get a promotion at work – what about the dark side?

I think Yoda said it best: “Strong is the temptation of the dark side – use the force Luke”.

Well my force wasn’t as strong as I would have liked in the above vacation. The intention of daily exercise fell away to the excuse of needing more rest and being too hot when I woke. The consumption of more carbs than normal, the easy “yes I’ll have another G&T”, with an inner dialogue of “chill, relax enjoy… It’s the vacation…”

So, was it ok to take a vacation from what I value? My health. To give it up in the name of short term pleasure? And let’s not forget the post vacation blues. Too much of the “good life” showing up in weight gain and tiredness. I am sure you can add to the list.

These outcomes are of course not just vacation led – try the weekend as well. I’m guilty of bowing to the power of the popular notion that if I am ‘good’ during the week and then I can be ‘bad’ during the two-day break, putting my values on hold till Monday. It may be easy to see this with health or wellbeing, but also consider any of your values. Do we put these on hold because we are busy? Or it could be the other way around of course – not living my values during the week at work… but that’s another story.

And it can be done. A number of years ago my business partner and I started having our strategic planning sessions in a juice fasting, yoga moving retreat in nature.  Besides working on the business, we got to focus on our mind-body and spirit, learn new things and work on becoming better versions of ourselves. I come home refreshed, energised and lighter. I feel fit for purpose. Fit for life.

So, what brings me back home?

As the family depart and the most dominant sound is the spin of the washing machine the last thing for me to do is to reflect and take on the learnings for this vacation. Guided by my values, how did I perform?

Grading my own report, I would give myself an A for living my values of love, joy, learning and making a difference.  And a C for health. Did ok, can do better. And that is the challenge for next time – to integrate this more effortlessly into my life so I am truly living from my zone, tapping into the power of my own ‘force’, for it is here that I know I am a better spouse, family and team member, a better friend and a citizen of Planet Earth.

I invite you to reflect on how well you lived your values this last vacation or even the weekend. Or were your values on holiday too?

Corina Roobeck is a Partner at The Zone, a Facilitator, Trainer, and Coach. Driven by the purpose of making the world of work more human, she works alongside a global team of passionate people inspiring happiness and high performance in leaders, teams and organisations. Corina is also an international Trainer for the Zenergy Unlimited school of facilitation, training facilitators, leaders and change-makers to unlock the potential of teams and unleash collective intelligence.


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