How to Refocus & Recharge – With or Without a Vacation

Several years ago I was in a role that was getting busier and busier. As the demands and distractions poured in I began to feel less energized and lose my focus.
And as my focus shifted, so did the focus of the entire team that I supported.  With no corporate retreats in our future we needed to figure out how to refocus and recharge. 

Create an Experience1.  Create an EXPERIENCE:  

  •  I brought some tiny matchbox cars to a meeting and asked everyone to take a car and personalize it.
  • Then I gave them a bunch of foot-long crepe paper streamers and asked them to use a streamer to list one thing that was causing them to lose focus.  (And they could use as many streamers as they needed to.)
  • There were so many that the streamers quickly covered the cars and we talked about how hard it is to drive forward when you feel so covered up that can’t see the people you are working with, let alone where you are going.
  • Then I brought out a rocket.  (The kind you buy in a toystore that you can actually launch.)  The rocket was “beautifully decorated” with each of our objectives, and we talked about how looking up and focusing on where we were going could help us prioritize the demands and distractions, decrease our confusion and stress and increase our focus and results.  

And yes – when we achieved all of our objectives we drove to a field and shot off that rocket!

2.  Find OPPORTUNITIES in your routine:

Outside of the office, travel has always been a way for me refocus and recharge.  (And I’m not talking about vacations!)
My opportunities were on planes as I traveled to and from business meetings.  That uninterrupted time away from my norm was filled with reading, thinking, and planing. Although there were no huge adventures – they always provided significant insights, increased focus and energy.

 3.  FULLY ABSORB the places you visit:  

 Since 2010 our vacations become intense thought-provoking, and transformational:
Our recent vacation outside of the sandbox was no exception.  
Ahhhh…  EVERY sense was relaxed and inspired!Restoring Soul
  • The temps were cooler – sometimes jackets were actually required!    (Not the 110 degree heat we left behind.)
  • The skies were bluer!  (Literally as most days our skies are hazy with sand.)
  • We saw puffy clouds DAILY!  (A rare sight in the sandbox.  I had no idea how much joy I would find in the sighting of puffy clouds before I left my native land.)
  • And we saw so much green that I could feel my soul resting and restoring.  (Yes – I literally got tears in my eyes as I whispered prayers of thankfulness!)
We  shared a journey with loved ones that had never traveled overseas:
  • We were inspired by their courage to journey far beyond their comfort zone.
  • And reminded that doing anything for the first time causes discomfort but when you hang in there it fuels growth, builds confidence and may actually make you crave another adventure.
At one point in our journey we took a 4-hour long ferry ride to Ireland.
  • On an uncommonly rough day at sea that made it difficult to stand or walk to a restroom and challenged even the toughest stomaches.
  • The entire ride I thought about our ancestors that traveled a much greater distance as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean on an old ship without modern technology or conveniences and wondered how much more challenging that would have been.
Potato Famine Memorial, DublinA few days later we learned a bit more about the potato famine that devastated Ireland for 6 years.  
  • As more than one million people lost their lives.
  • And another million left their homeland to survive.
  • We heard stories and songs about that time in history and imagined what it must have been like to leave everything you knew and loved behind – knowing you may never see or hear from the people you left – ever again.
  • We saw the type of ships they traveled on. (Called coffin ships – How does that inspire hope?)Coffin Ship, Dublin Ireland
  • And again I thought of our tiny taste of turbulant sea travel and how challenging it would have been to travel such a great distance.  
  • And a story unfolded about JFK visiting his extended family in Ireland when he was the President of the U.S. – A story about his connection to the people and the land his ancestors came from, and their connection to one of their own experiencing the vision of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – to the full!
  • For the rest of our time in Ireland, we frequently noticed American flags flying next to Irish flags.  (Ah the power of vision and connection!)
And when we returned to the U.S. for a short visit, we read some family history for the first time, describing a journey across the Atlantic for a different set of ancestors, “…We had an awful storm one night.  They came in and closed the two portholes and locked the doors. We were in there in that little room with no lights or anything.  There were two bunks on each side of the wall and no bedding.  I didn’t mind the ship going up and down and sideways, but Mother got awfully sick and almost died that night.  …We arrived in America in New York!  That’s what we’d been praying for and why we came over here – for the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  And from there the story goes on to describe a new life, in a new world, with new challenges and struggles and ultimately a home, a life, a future.

Today we’re back in the sandbox

  • Thankful for the shared adventure and the visual reminders about how much life and growth comes after we spend time outside of our comfort zones  – and it doesn’t matter if we leave those zones by choice or by heartache.
  • Feeling very connected to the lessons about struggle, courage, risk, vision and life that have come from our ancestors.
  • And feeling recharged and refocused.
Energize Your Leadership e book and paperbackWant more?
  1. Check out this article:  Looking Back:  7 Times You Should & 7 Times You Should Not
  2. Purchase our NEW Book Energize Your Leadership:  Get your Amazon Kindle Version Here or Have a book sent to you from Amazon here.

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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4 thoughts on “How to Refocus & Recharge – With or Without a Vacation

  1. Your time away sounded divine! When we step out of our routines, away from work and tasks, we gain great perspective. That’s why I believe in mandatory vacation for everyone. Not necessarily fancy. Just time away to reflect and feel. When I slip out of my world here, it is a way to explore and plan. My husband and I always use that time to dream and think of what we want to do next. It is also a time to be grateful for all the good in our lives.

    Fantastic post, Chery! Ireland sounds magnificent1

    • It was divine! Just to see something green and blue and feel cooler breezes stimulates my soul so deeply!

      I can’t wait to have our hangout so I can hear how what you are planning next!

  2. I appreciate that you not only go on vacation but reflect on the meaning and the moment. It’s the best way to internalize the experience. I find that I will myself to take snapshots in my mind when I’m on holiday. It’s not just the image but the feeling that I most want to capture.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us!

    ~ Alli

    • I remember the first time I reflected deeply on vacation. It was not planned. I was in the Gardens of Versailles and flooded with overwhelming waves of understanding about history and current events. When I started blogging a few months later it was one of the first articles I wrote.

      How do you hold the pictures you take in your mind? (I’m so visual – I want to revisit them.) Do you paint them later? Tell stories about them? Quietly reflect on them, or something else?