Ideas for a 2week inspirational break excluding sitting on a mountaintop
October 3, 2013 7:50 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to take two weeks off of work and come back with a new sense of direction in life. I have been in the same job for almost four years and find little fulfillment there, yet also haven't found the motivation or made the time to move on. Maybe some semi-structured time off work to think, mark next steps, and break patterns will help? How and where should I spend my time?

I relate rather strongly to this post. I am a 34-y-o Boston-based woman, single (to my chagrin), and am coming up on my four-yr anniversary at a job in public health research. December will mark four years at this job. It's not a horrible job (I like my boss, have considerable autonomy, etc), but my heart's not in it, it's stressful, and mostly it feels like drudgery. I got a graduate degree in a related topic right before landing the job and just paid off my debt from that last year. The salary is not amazing, but it's pretty good, and has allowed me to finally (July) move into my own apt, which I love. To round-out the picture here, I'll add that I have a wonderful, supportive family and terrific friends.

I'd like to do something dramatic like take two weeks off of work. Maybe travel a bit, but the real objective would be to give some deliberate thought to mapping out my priorities and next steps in life. Do I search for my soul-work and start a new career altogether? Do I stay in the same field (hard to imagine I'd find true fulfillment there), and start networking and put good job-search infrastructure in place for when the break ends? I'd like to just relax some, too, but know that I need a plan or will spend two weeks just knocking off quotidian to-dos.

A formal retreat (yoga or otherwise) could be nice for part of it just to clear the cobwebs before digging into the practical questions of "what should I do with my life?" I could spend some time meditating and in nature, but not two straight weeks on a mountaintop. Maybe read a self-help or other inspirational book to get the juices flowing (would love recommendations other than "What Color is My Parachute," which I already know of). I expect the inquiry will take active maintenance after these two weeks, but would like to lay a solid foundation and gain some momentum for change.

How and where to spend my time? I welcome other relevant advice and recommendations, too, from your experience. Oh, and I can spend up to ~ $1,200. Thank you!
posted by AlmondEyes to Human Relations (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Some monasteries let people arrange for use of a retreat room for a couple of days, if you want something unstructured in that kind of atmosphere. I think the etiquette is, you make a donation.
posted by thelonius at 7:55 PM on October 3, 2013

I know someone who had a really good experience at Kripalu, which is close to you in the Berkshires.
posted by latkes at 8:01 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lock your credit cards away, don't touch your paychecks, empty your fridge, don't touch your car, turn off the TV, unplug from the internet (or limit yourself to 30 minutes a day from your phone), give yourself $200 spending cash, and take a minimum wage job. Figure out how to pay your bills for the month and feed yourself.

There is an amazing amount of humility and focus on actual self improvement that can be done by seeing what alternatives really are.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:25 PM on October 3, 2013 [9 favorites]

i think you need to get away but it doesn't really matter where, just away from your normal life. can you look for an opportunity to house-sit for someone?
i also have a book recommendation: I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher.
posted by katieanne at 8:31 PM on October 3, 2013

Spend the month before your vacation doing informational interviews with people in jobs that catch your eye. That'll give you some information to help start your thinking. You aren't networking - you are casting a wide net for info.

Given two weeks? I'd go to the nearest state park and rent a cabin. Introspection doesn't require glamour, it just needs quiet.
posted by 26.2 at 8:44 PM on October 3, 2013

i think renting a cabin or staying in a monastery for a few days sounds great. a book you might like by the quaker parker palmer is the classic let your life speak: listening for the voice of vocation
posted by wildflower at 10:00 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would go back to NZ this winter (their summer) in a f&cking heartbeat if I could.

Stay at cool backpackers and meet travelers from all over the world. DOC (dept of conservation) huts on AWESOME hikes are very posh by wilderness camping standards - all you need carry are clothes, sleeping bag, and food.

Sleep on the beach without a tent when possible, get back in touch with Nature.

I'm CERTAIN New Zealand has awesome retreat-type places - start googling!

I suggest this place because its nickname is "God's Zone" or "God's Own," depending. Magical transformation awaits you there.

They say that NZ lies mostly upon a bed of Quartz Crystal... While I don't know if this is exactly true, I'll go ahead and endorse this land's healing and restorative powers.

It's comparitively safe, fwiw. I'd be confident as a street smart female to travel alone there.

Best to you!
posted by jbenben at 11:34 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you don't clearly know your direction, sometimes it's hiding in plain sight. What do you day dream about, what do you like to do in your spare time? Most people work in jobs that are meh but pay the bills, it's not necessary that you live the 'career' dream as long as your life has some magic in it. So you need to spot the magic. But creativity takes time and a relaxed, free mind. However whenever I've tried to sequester myself and do some "big" thinking, my mind won't cough up the neat plan I want it to. So instead I'd suggest backpacking around. Cheesy as it sounds, if you can make your way to Europe, do it, and don't plan anything except the first hostel you'll land in. Out of your typical environment, and stimulated in different ways, you may start to see clearer who you are, what you like, what you want. And don't expect the answer to be neat. Passion is like that - you know 1-2 steps ahead at best. So you may not fully know the end game, but you'll know the general direction. Finally, you say you are single to your chagrin. Maybe instead of developing your career right now, what you really want is to find a guy. I guess what I mean to say is be prepared for "life's calling" to show up in a different ways alternative to building your career right now. Finally you could just switch it up and go to a different company, sometimes just the change of pace gets the juices flowing again.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:57 AM on October 4, 2013

Going to Burning Man has had the effect on my life that you seem to be seeking. I can't recommend going highly enough. It takes about two weeks to get there, stay the week and get back and costs just about $800-1,200 depending on where you're traveling from, what you bring and where you camp. Tickets themselves are about $400 but once you get in you don't spend any money- everything's free. (Except they sell ice and coffee. But booze at bars is free.)

Of course, it's in August, so you'd have to wait. But tickets go on sale around January or so and you could get started on planning in the meantime. Sew costumes, decorate a bike, get hooked up with your local burner community and meet some people to camp with.

Being there is like being on another planet and really allows you to separate the annoyances of everyday life (which disappear) from your deepest feelings (which you'll find yourself suddenly ruminating on somewhere around the fourth day as you're sitting at the top of a human cat tower, wearing cat ears and a tutu and holding hands with a stranger new friend.) It's a beautiful, fascinating, fun playground full of art and great people where you'll have fun but also gain perspective and feel confident, independent and beautiful.

(And if you come, there's a MeFi meetup!)
posted by GastrocNemesis at 10:36 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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