Guy sitting on the stairs smiling into the camera.
Vacation is the perfect time to stop and reflect on the year so far.

It is summertime. Six months have passed. How are the life goals you set at the beginning of the year going? How can you conduct a self-review that’s both productive and inspiring? Easy: go on holidays!

As an expat in Germany, my vacation is always a choice between a grounding home visit and flying around the world. Both are equally important to me. My roots versus my passion: traveling. The interaction with other cultures, religions, and points of view in a world of contrasts has shaped who I am and what I have achieved so far.

What went well in my life and at work during the first half year? Which mistakes can I learn from? What am I thankful for? I invite you to reflect on these questions during your vacation. Here are some practical tips to get started.

Empty your mind and let your subconscious do the work

Before going on vacation, empty your mind and get rid of potential worries that might arise while you are away. Channel them outside of yourself. Use a piece of paper, laptop, or smartphone and write down your to-do lists and targets for the rest of the year.

The goal is to start your vacation with a lighter head that has room to absorb new ideas and to see things with different eyes. Live your holidays fully focused on your adventure and experiences – they will increase your energy, positivity, and creativity. Recognize and celebrate your achievements so far in the year and let them refuel and renew you. Then, continue, as your journey is not over yet.

Get out of your comfort zone and try something new

Have you ever thought about exploring Europe by train, taking a trip to thrilling South America, spiritual Asia, or grounding Africa? Do it! Forget your fears, prejudices, and excuses.

Ditch your routine and get to know other places and cultures – it will provoke you to learn and widen your boundaries, and see your daily tasks in a new light. A fresh way of thinking will be key in finding innovative and creative solutions to your personal targets and challenges.

Tourist standing in front of Machu Picchu
Trekking the Inca trail in Peru gave me perseverance to pursue and accomplish a goal.
Guy watching the sunset in Angkor Wat
The sunrise in Angkor Wat helped me tune into a state of appreciation and positivity - essential for a clear focused mind.
Guy doing a bungee jump raising his hands up high before the start
Bungee jumping in Argentina strengthened my willpower towards overcoming obstacles.
Guy standing on a boat in a cage waiting to dive with sharks
Cage-diving with white sharks in South Africa allowed me to face my fears.
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Don’t get lazy – stay active

Abandoning your usual daily routine for a while not only feels great – it’s also liberating. However, too many lie-ins in the mornings can lead to laziness. Don’t fall into this trap! Try to keep your early bird habit for at least part of your holidays, and add in a new sport or activity.

guy standing on a rock doing a the tree yoga pose while enjoying the view
Being active does not always mean being physical. My learning toolbox includes yoga courses and meditation retreats.
Body surf board leaning at a wall. In the background you can see a beach.
Heading to the beach? Think about a surf course that will connect you with nature and push your limits.
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Let other people inspire you

Whether you spend time with loved ones or total strangers, other people are important in making you more aware of your key goals and accomplishments. Those close to you can give you honest feedback on what they see in front of them, while strangers will help you realize what you bring to the table and inspire you to keep moving forward.

Five people standing there ina row giving a smile to the camera after visiting a hospital in San Tomé and Principe.
Think about contributing to the community where you live or you are traveling to. My friends and I got to spend a morning in San Tomé and Príncipe’s paediatric hospital. Our mission: to distribute smiles.
Portuguese guy holding is standing in a class room and gives a presentation in front of African school children.
On vacation, I took time to talk to university students and teachers about what sustainability is and how to apply it to their reality.
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Use the clear mind, fresh energy and creativity you brought back from holidays to reflect on your year to date and to envision where you want to be in six months. With your newfound awareness it is time to go back to the lists and targets you prepared before the break. Review your results and goals and continue to challenge yourself and dream big for the rest of the year!

How do you use your vacation time? Let me know in the comments below.


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by Gabriela Moscoso 21.07.2017
Hi Andre,

Thanks for this great post, it resonated so much with me when you said, that travel experiences have shaped who you are and what you have achieved so far. It happened to me as well, although I am still in the process of shaping the next stage of life and career, however travelling, learning languages, discovering cultures, meeting people, enjoying food and being amazed by beautiful sunsets have changed me in ways I could have never imagined. So yes every trip has thought me something important!
Looking forward to my next trip :)
by André Mendes Gabriela Moscoso 23.07.2017
Thank you for the great feedback, Gabriela. I am glad you identified with these ideas. In the process to shape your next step of life and career please keep in mind an important feeling: Gratitude. I am always grateful for what I have and for the growth my experiences brought me. Keep enjoying your trips!
by Gabriela Moscoso André Mendes 24.07.2017
Indeed, gratitude is important! it brings positiveness to every single moment of life before now, for what was tough, difficult, nice, beautiful, challenging, for it all represented a life lesson. Cheers
by Sara 21.07.2017
As you know, I also love to travel, but for me the best part of going on holidays (abroad, Algarve, or simply at home) is to break from routine, do different things, be with friends, love a lot and now, of course, play a lot with Lady M.! Don't care much about goals for the year, more of a Carpe Diem style, at least for vacation period ;)
by André Mendes Sara 25.07.2017
Hi Sara, thank you for your comment. I fully agree with you. Carpe Diem is the style a vacation should be lived by. I recommend to empty your mind, organize yourself before so you can live even more up to that spirit. And, as a result, one will look to its own goals in a different angle, which in my experience leads to an impactful review.
by Yousef 27.07.2017
Hey Andre, thanks so much for sending me this article. I have my holidays scoped for mid of August and I definitely will pick up on some of the routines you promote here. Thanks a lot for the inspiration, comes at the right point in time 🙏🏽. All the best and keep on inspiring/writing/sharing! Cheers, yousef
by André Mendes Yousef 27.07.2017
Hi Yousef. Thank you for the kind words. Enjoy your holidays.
by Adler 27.07.2017
Very well put! I liked the idea to free your mind before you go on holidays. Smart tip.
Holidays are indeed a moment to refresh, and you bring a very important element to it - a mid-year review. Again, good advice. Take small, manageable steps (mid-year) instead of a giant step like a 'life review'.
One exercise I like to do regularly is the 'wheel of life'. There are many variations, so just google it and adjust to your needs.

Thanks for putting this 2 separate topics together.
by André Mendes Adler 30.07.2017
Hi Adler. Thanks a lot for the valuable input! The "wheel of life" method definitely has this mentality to take small steps in the right direction. I use it in life coach sessions.
by Abhay Kelkar 27.07.2017
Nice article Andre.. Keep it up !!!

by André Mendes Abhay Kelkar 30.07.2017
Hi Abhay, thank you for the comment. I hope you will be able to apply these ideas on your next holidays.
by Anthony Morra 01.08.2018
Andre! Fantastic article! Thank you very much for writing it. I think you make some very important points, but I would challenge everyone to go one step further: let's do this MORE than when we go on vacation!

Funny enough, this is exactly what we're working on at Beaconforce. To truly ENJOY life, you need to better understand yourself and what "enjoyment" really means. It comes from high levels of INTRINSIC MOTIVATION. I invite you to visit our website and check us out! Feel free to contact me as well.
by Sílvia Mendes 23.07.2021
Olá primo! 49 países?? Não sabia! Tb tenho estado por fora, estou nos meus últimos dias na Guiné-Bissau antes de voltar para o nosso querido país. Portugal é o melhor sítio do mundo :) Até breve! Bjs
by Mel 05.08.2021
Thanks André for this very inspiring article. I can totally refer to this feeling.
A kind advice to the readers who will try this ***Be careful as it can become extremely addictive***
This sensation of discovering something different and by the same occasion something about yourself and your own culture is priceless.
Mel - 40 countries and counting ;)