Turn fantasies into reality

Banish the to-do lists if you want to enjoy the results, advises Jurgen Wolff, in his second of a summer-long series.

After all the planning you have to do during term time, it may be the last thing you want to think about when contemplating your holidays. Yet how often have we all had the experience of vaguely intending to do a dozen things during our break, only to find, when it's time to go back to work, that we've not done any of them? One stress-free way to avoid this is to plan in terms of outcomes, rather than with endless to-do lists.

Outcomes are simply the results we want. Examples of desirable outcomes for a holiday period might, for instance, include relaxing deeply, catching up on pleasure reading, enjoying time with friends we've been too busy to see for a while, and achieving some creative project of our own, such as writing a short story or planting a garden. Even things that require some fairly hard work, such as redecorating the kitchen or clearing the attic, become more appealing when we begin by thinking of the outcome they lead to: having a pleasant and orderly environment.

Thinking about the outcomes we want is a great way to begin the transition to holiday time. During the frantic end-of-term activity, it gives us something to look forward to. It begins to suggest, effortlessly, as part of our daydreams, specific steps we can take to achieve those outcomes.

For example, when we think about relaxing deeply, images of a day on the beach may pop up, or getting a massage, or simply sleeping late, spending all day in a dressing gown, and watching some classic films on video.

Even mundane tasks such as cleaning out the garage, can be mentally rehearsed (with the emphasis on how great it will feel when the job has been done). Useful strategies may occur to you so that when the time comes, you'll be ready with lots of ideas on the best way to proceed.

In spare moments in the next week, it might be fun and useful to think about what kinds of outcomes you want from your holiday for some of the major areas of your life. The following questions may help: l How would you like to feel in terms of your fitness and your health by the time the break is over?l What would you like to have accomplished in terms of changing your surroundings at home?l What would you like to have done for your personal or professional development?l What changes would you like to see in your finances?l In what ways would you like to have enhanced your relationship with partners, friends, and family?l What new experiences do you want to have had?

Don't try to cram a huge number of activities into your holidays; if you make this a race against time, you'll just end up more stressed. But by choosing at least one or two outcomes that are important to you and starting to think about them, you will lay the foundations of a smooth and enjoyable transition to holiday time.

After spending the year planning your pupils' lives, isn't it time to start thinking about yourself?

Next week: Enjoying every minute.Jurgen Wolff is a hypnotherapist and writer. His most recent book is 'Do Something Different', published by Virgin Business Guides. His free monthly Brainstorm creativity e-bulletin is available by request from BstormUK@aol.com

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