The French poet Anatole France once said, “Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.”

I agree because when better to learn new things than on your holiday, especially if you’ve got to travel to another country or an unfamiliar city! You don’t have to take textbooks and method books with you to gain practical use out of your trip, you just need to relax. 

Any mini-vacation, weekend, and a fortnight’s holiday is a chance to replenish your energy and return to the office with new motivation and skills. Personally, I find it easiest (and best) to focus on five of them: 

Skill #1. Self-learning skill. That is probably one of the most important skills in modern life. I keep saying that I can’t imagine an in-demand professional in the job market who can’t or won’t learn. Today, there is fierce competition and too many technologies and trends emerging daily to allow oneself to relax for too long. 

No, that doesn’t mean you have to study 24/7 on holiday either! It’s about learning how to learn. Do you understand the difference? For example, being able to focus at the snap of your fingers, following productive habits and rituals, and awakening your thirst for new things and discipline. Make it a rule to study every day for 10-15 minutes at your convenience, but regularly. If you keep this up for a whole holiday, you’ll be surprised how easy it becomes to learn in your everyday, busy life!

Skill #2. Planning skill. Have you ever noticed that the more free time we have, the more we procrastinate and the faster it flies away? Remember, planning is the key to a great holiday you won’t forget! And holiday planning is the easiest way to learn career planning. Got your travel itinerary lined up yet? 

When heading to a country you’ve never been to, think the following through: 

  • What’s the main purpose of your trip? To see as many sights as possible? Do you want to try all the national dishes? Or get a good night’s sleep? 
  • What are the intermediate points that will help you to do that? For example, if you want to see all the sights, make sure you have a list of them. 
  • What resources will you need to do this? Budget, time, transportation, chaperones, etc. 
  • How will you know if your holiday is a success? Is it a success if you bring home a bunch of fridge magnets? Or if you finally get rid of the bags under your eyes? 

Furthermore, after your holiday, take this itinerary template and transfer it to your career! After all, work is just like a journey. So try to plan it along the same lines, from goals to resources to performance criteria. Got it? Great, you’ve mastered the planning skill!

Skill #3. The skill of speaking foreign languages. When travelling, it is easier to improve your foreign language skills because you get immersed in an unfamiliar environment. The main thing here is not to be shy and communicate with its inhabitants, even if you think that you can only say “hello” and “goodbye”  in the local language. 

Bring a dictionary and a notebook if you are completely new to the foreign language whose speakers you will be living side by side. Write down there all the interesting and unique words you learn. Also, don’t be shy about asking locals to teach you! Personally, when I find myself in an unfamiliar country, I always ask new friends to teach me a couple of useful phrases. Firstly, it develops your vocabulary (even if you aren’t learning the language in question) and your ability to absorb new information. Secondly, it’s great for bonding with new people! 

Skill #4. Communication skill. It’s easier to develop this skill in parallel with the foreign language skill – get to know people, socialise, talk! In a word, do some fun networking. Who knows which of these acquittances will be useful for you in the future? The main thing is to follow a few rules when communicating so that communication is not only pleasant but also effective: 

  • listen to the interlocutor carefully and show genuine interest (nod, clarify, ask to repeat things, but don’t interrupt!);
  • pay attention to the gestures and facial expressions of the other person and learn to recognise their emotions and true motives;
  • pay attention to your gestures and facial expressions, so your friendly words do not contrast with a disapproving grimace;
  • in the process, try to work on your speech: good verbal skills come in handy in business and personal life!

Skill #5. The skill of speed-reading. You’ve been meaning to read an interesting book for a long time, saving it for a holiday, but then it turned out that you don’t have time for it because of the tight list of obligatory places to visit? No problem! Here’s your chance to brush up on your speed reading. Sure, fiction’s a thoughtful read, but it’s a must-have skill when it comes to professional literature. After all, in today’s world, it is not enough to learn – you have to learn fast. Very fast! 

I suggest you start with the “Harvesting” technique, which allows you to read quickly and absorb new information just as promptly. Just start reading the book and then:

  1. Stop. Once you’ve reached the end of one conceptual block, pause. Turn away from the text. 
  2. Essence. Recall what you have just read and visualise the core of the text in the form of a diagram, table, or figure. It would help if you had the main ideas and talking points from the reading in front of you. 
  3. Repetition. Now try to say these ideas and theses out loud. Say them as concisely as possible and in your own words. The main thing is to express the essence of what you have read clearly and briefly.

Have you succeeded? Then read on! And if not, go back to the beginning of the block and try again.

Finally, one last word of advice: first, take a break from gadgets! At work, you probably have to be on call 24/7, so why not turn off the internet at least when you’re travelling? Gadgets take away the time you could be using to study and eat great food with breathtaking views of the sea. Most importantly, remember: self-development should be something you don’t need a break from. Don’t forget to get lazy once in a while! It’s a holiday after all – make good use of your time and enjoy yourself.

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