It’s that time of year when you’ve returned from your Summer break that you’ve been waiting on for what seems like forever. You’re home but wishing you were still chilling by the beach or visiting magical cities and places without a care in the world. Crash, bang – you’re back into the throes of work, wishing you perhaps hadn’t over indulged to the extent you did (in my case eaten too many pastel de natas) and wondering how long it is until your next holiday and committing to be fit and trim before you don your beachwear again.
Sound familiar? Well “familiar” is exactly what I want to talk about today. Whilst lying on my sun-lounger on afore-mentioned beach I found myself pondering what it was that had me returning to the same part of the world for my Summer break over and over again. I always considered myself to be someone who likes to travel and see new things and that holiday time for me was about exploring places I’d never seen, attempting new activities I hadn’t tried before and finding new and exciting places to eat, drink and sometimes dance.
I’m not saying that I’ve only ever been to the same holiday destination and nowhere else – I’ve been fortunate to have many great experiences in beautiful places both near and far, but I can’t help feeling more and more comfortable when I return to my special spot in Portugal that holds my heart and brings me back time and time. I find myself arriving and almost immediately I relax. The very thought that I don’t have to think about how to find the beach/decent restaurants/local shops feels fantastic. As soon as I get to the resort I feel like I’ve come home and it feels good. I don’t need to be a tourist here – I can truly wind down. Seeing the same faces in restaurants and bars feels comforting. I’ve long since stopped wondering why the same people work in these places for many years – I just now accept they do and am grateful to see them.
And is it just my holiday bookings that this love of familiarity applies to. I search deeper into my habits and behaviours and find that perhaps I do love familiarity. I’ve been in my current home for almost 13 years, lived in the same area for over 20 and have been running businesses and working with many of our team for almost the same length of time. I’ve sadly shopped in the same supermarket for about 25 years (and even had a local branch down on my “new address” criteria list when house hunting – as well as needing to be living near water of some description). I listen to the same genres of music I’ve listened to since I was a teenager, always shop in the same department store, go to the same gym classes, pick the same colour when buying a new purse, buy the same underwear brand and the list goes on!
But what does this say about me? Am I so dull or lacking creativity that I take the easy option? Does it say I’m risk averse or that newness scares me? I don’t think so. In fact in many areas of my life I’m probably the complete opposite. What I love about my work is the fact I get to meet so many new and varied clients and don’t have to go to the same place and do the same job every day. Some days I am coaching, some facilitating large scale events, or delivering a workshop or working in my office on a project or doing some business development – no day is the same and I love that. The thought of going to the same office every day is awful. I can also get restless if I am doing the same thing for too long and can lose patience with tasks that require repetition. Oh and I never wear the same shoes more than once in a week unless I’m on holiday or they are my trainers! If push came to shove though I’d probably fall in the ‘familiarity” camp – even though I hate admitting that.
You may have read my last blog before my holiday about my packing habits where I deduced I was an abundance lover rather than a simplicity one. Once again Gretchen Rubin in “Better than Before” shares her thoughts on the distinctions we have such as:
- Are you a lark or an owl? (Are you better in the morning or evening?)
- Are you a sprinter or a marathoner? (Are you slow and steady or do you leave things to the last minute?)
- Are you an under-buyer or an over-buyer? (Do you love or hate to shop?)
- Are you a finisher or an opener? (do you get the job complete or do you just like to start new things?)
- Do you take big steps or small steps? (Are you happy making big changes or prefer to stick with small ones?)
So knowing which category you are in can help you understand your habits and behaviours more – which in turn can help us to be more effective and indeed inform the choices that we make both in and out of work.
For me knowing that I am more of a lark than an owl means I try to do my most difficult work in the mornings (including any exercise otherwise I’d never do it!); Being a sprinter I need to make sure I build in enough contingency in case last minute doesn’t work out as planned; Being an opener I need to work hard on making sure I get things finished and my “big step” mentality means I need to build in milestones to check and monitor my progress along the way. (Being an abundance lover goes hand in hand with an over-buyer – so enough said there!).
And when choosing my next holiday destination I’ll either be returning to Portugal combining it with a city I’ve not been to before or a new location with an over-stuffed suitcase full of my familiar possessions.
Who said I was indecisive?