Taking a Solocation for Professional Development

    Think about vacations. We take vacations to get a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We want to unwind, relax and do the things that make us happy with the people we enjoy spending time with. In many instances though, vacations do not give us the break that we need. Those who go with little kids or big extended families are often saying afterward “I am going to need a vacation after my vacation!”

    So, some people are turning to the Solocation.  Urbandictionary.com defines it as “going on a vacation by yourself.” To a large majority of people, they think “Why would I want to do that? How is that fun?” Maybe for a few introverted individuals, the idea of getting away from it all sounds exhilarating. I believe that all individuals, introverts and extroverts, can benefit personally from this type of trip. 

    The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) identifies an Introvert (I) as being energized from their own internal world of thoughts and ideas. Extroverts (E), on the other hand, are energized by the act of doing something or interacting with others. I have taken the assessment many times, and my preference always comes out slightly on the introverted side. No doubt I do my best work alone when I can think, process and write down my ideas or conclusions. However, the act of doing something, and often with others, also motivates me. I enjoy spending time with, sharing interests and helping out friends and family. To most clients I have worked with, they too share a combination of both introverted and extraverted behaviors.

    solocation, like a vacation, exists for the purpose of being able to disconnect and recharge. Going on this type of trip gives opportunities for both I and E types to engage in their preferred behaviors. Introverts will enjoy the time to think and not be bothered with a lot of disruptions. They might find themselves successfully delving deep into an activity or thought because they have ample uninterrupted time to do so. On the other hand, extroverts can engage in many different activities, because they do not have to worry about meeting other people’s needs. They are also able to choose other preferred activities, such as being with other people and staying continuously active. 

    My trip to the woods near Shenandoah National Park in Virginia was perfect for my combination type. The cabin I stayed in was the size of a trailer but one end was completely covered by a window, so you felt as if you were camping alone in the woods. However, you were not completely alone, there were other cabins on the property which made me feel safer. As an introvert, I enjoyed disconnecting from people and electronics because it gave me a sense of relief. I had time to think and really process what I was feeling and what I wanted for myself moving forward. I read and wrote as ways to reflect, activities I had not had much time for lately. The quiet and isolation allowed me to significantly dig deep into evaluating my thoughts and ideas. My extraverted side enjoyed the liberty I had to get up and do things with no accountability to others. I spent ample time hiking trails and driving along skyline drive. I met other people on my hikes whom were also enjoying the solitude, but we chatted about our lives and why we were there, which helped us from feeling completely isolated. I should mention that I also brought my dog Vito and chatted with my family at night. 

    My trip lasted only three days and nights but the results have lasted much longer. I achieved what I had gone there to do, which was: 

    1. Disconnect from other people and unimportant “things” taking up my time
    2. Relieve my stress by realizing what those were and letting go 
    3. Determine what is really important to me and shift my focus to those 

    This quote I posted on Instagram best describes my intention and outcome, “And into the forest I will go to lose my mind and find my soul.” By John Muir. This trip can serve different purposes for different people.  Before you take one, I encourage you to identify why you are going, and how where you go and what you plan to do will help you accomplish your trip’s purpose. You may need to try one out and adjust after if it doesn’t completely fulfill your needs. If you are like me, it may become a continuous part of your personal development. I look forward to taking one annually.  



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