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Summer Vacation: Recharging Your Conative Battery


Has this ever happened to you?

You spend months planning for the “perfect” vacation.  Flights, room reservations, ground transportation, activities, etc., are all scheduled.  You research the landmarks you want to visit.  You find out which restaurants have the best food.  You carefully calculate where you will be and what you will do every day of the trip. You budget for gifts, clothes, meals, entertainment.  Maybe you even invest in a new camera to record your travels.  Finally, all of the preparations are in order and you depart for two exciting weeks of entertainment and exploration.

But then, a funny thing happens.

When you get back home, and return to work, you find that you are more exhausted than when you left.  Your vacation was supposed to help you get rejuvenated, but now you can’t even bring yourself to plod through all of those emails that have been piling up in your in-box.  You’re worse off now than when you left!

Believe it or not, “vacation exhaustion” is a real problem.   A few years ago, a survey of 1,000 recent travelers found that more than half of them came back tired from vacation. Naturally, some of the problem can be attributed to travel stress, lack of sleep, change in eating habits, etc.  However, even after you get a good night’s sleep and take care of your nutritional needs, you can still return home without “recharging your battery.”  You may have had fun, you may have visited some exciting places and tasted a variety of cuisines.  You may have even spent some much-needed quality time with the family.  All good things to do.  So why are you still exhausted?

The problem is that you needed to recharge your conative energy, and that requires “leisure.”

You have a limited supply of conative (“creative”) energy, and striving – whether at work, at home or wherever – will tend to deplete that energy.  And the way to recharge your conative “battery” is NOT by striving at another activity – even if it’s something fun and creative.  What you need is “leisure.”

As Kathy Kolbe says in her book, Conative Connection, “Leisure is the non-pursuit of any goal.  It’s when you go into neutral because your mind has used its conative energy and has earned some downtime ....  It’s when you read something with no redeeming value.  It’s when initiation and prevention don’t kick in.  Watching the waves hit the beach.  Listening to the sound of the birds.  Walking aimlessly through the city.” 

So, even though you might enjoy painting, or rock climbing, or fishing, or square dancing, or a good game of tennis, these are NOT truly leisure activities if they require you to strive.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that vacations cannot be fun, creative, and physically demanding.  On the contrary!  All human beings need creative outlets and exercise.  The affective part of your mind wants you to have fun now and then.  However, from a conative perspective, it is important to distinguish between recreation and leisure. 

For example, maybe your idea of the perfect vacation involves scuba diving.  However, this involves calculations regarding equipment, weights, bottom time, surface interval length, and nitrogen absorption rates, along with expense calculations, boat reservations, etc.  If you’re an initiating Fact Finder whose conative energy has been spent on a major project at the office, a scuba diving vacation will not likely rejuvenate your conative energy.  It might be fun and it might be a terrific activity for you and your friends and your family.  However, it is not leisure!

On the other hand, a few hours spent floating on an inner tube in a pool or down a lazy stream might be the perfect ‘water sport’ for recharging your conative battery.  So, when you go on vacation make time for both recreation and leisure!

Suggestions for a Successful Conation Vacation

  1. Stop Striving – If you’re an initiating Follow Thru, maybe on this vacation you can let someone else create the plans, organize information, chart out all the logistics.  If you’re a counteractive Quick Start, maybe you can let someone else take responsibility for minimizing risk factors and clarifying deadlines and departure times.
  1. Focus on the Affective – Rather than striving to do what you’re “supposed” to do, try doing some things just because you like to do them.
  1. Use up some of that unused conative energy.  Maybe you’re a counteractive Implementor but your job rarely gives you the opportunity to sketch out some ideas or to create something out of thin air.  Maybe you are a “5” in Fact Finder but you rarely have an opportunity to do much research at work.  Whatever your conative M.O., you likely have some creative energy that you need to use.   So, use it when you’re on vacation.

And Have a Great Summer!


-A friend supports you in being your authentic conative self.  What are those other people doing in your life?

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“Kolbe Theory is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to help others to enjoy the freedom to be themselves!  Now I understand why I do things in my own way!”

Patti Perdue
Patti G. Perdue Consulting

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Kolbe Corp EVP Frank Reid has started a blog to share some of his insights gained over a 30+-year career in human resources.Take a look a one of his latest posts and let us know what you think.


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