Setting Intention With Bob Marley

Michelle Stimpson & Bill Stimpson_Cruise Prep

I knew it was time to change into my shorts and tank top and get my butt downstairs. I could smell the amazing Caribbean-style dinner cooking, and I heard Bob Marley and his reggae vibe blasting through our speakers.

Our vacation kick-off party was getting underway! This “party” is a ritual of ours before going on vacation. Bill and I have a Caribbean cruise planned this winter, and several weeks out we like to get the excitement started. This usually includes looking at pictures from past cruises and vacations, going through travel documents, playing our favorite warm-weather music, and most importantly – setting our intention for the upcoming trip and discussing what we each want from it.

The evening of fanfare sets the stage for the two of us to get completely jazzed and fired-up for the upcoming trip!

We’ve been doing this now since our honeymoon cruise in 1994, due to important lessons we learned back then. While our newlywed time together was wonderful, something about the trip wasn’t quite right. We felt pulled in several different directions. We hadn’t really talked much about the trip ahead of time (who’s got time to talk when they’re planning a wedding?), so when we suddenly found ourselves on the cruise, we weren’t sure where to focus our attention and how to spend our week.

Did we want relaxation? Adventure? What about all those tours? Unfortunately, the confusion led to some disappointment during a time we hoped would be perfect. We ended up returning home feeling exhausted and not completely satisfied with how the trip had unfolded.

Deciding to make a change

But because of our love of vacations and commitment to a lifetime of travels, we declared from that point forward things would be different. We agreed to put serious, thoughtful effort into each future vacation to help create the ultimate experience. After all, vacations are one of the things that bring us great joy – why not make them the best they can be?

Michelle Stimpson & Bill Stimpson_Cabin Bedtime

Over the years, we’ve developed a pretty cool step-by-step process to help us maximize our vacations. And we’ve shared this with audiences by leading workshops and speaking to groups. We’ve facilitated discussions in the living rooms of families and couples traveling together. And it’s been fun to be featured on local radio and TV.

The feedback has been incredible. In fact, one repeat participant in our workshop said: “I will never vacation again without going through your process. Non-negotiable. Seriously.” Wow!

And…we’ve written a book! Well, the book is kinda sorta done, but we need to take the next step with it. Stay tuned!

So many people we’ve encountered return from vacation and end up saying: “I need a vacation!” That’s an easy cycle to get caught up in. Many rush into a trip without a real plan, and the results are unsatisfying or don’t live up to expectations.

I’m grateful to say that Bill and I have found a real richness to all our vacations, simply because of the intentional effort we put in up-front.

Michelle Stimpson & Bill Stimpson_Formal Night

Tips for your next vacation

The next time you’re going on vacation, take some time to be purposeful about it. If you’re traveling with others, get together with your travel partners (in-person or virtually) and ask the question: “What are you most excited about and most looking forward to?” Brainstorm together and compile a list of all the things that were said. It’s a great way to get everyone energized together!

Then visualize yourself driving/flying home at the end of your vacation. Picture a genuine smile on your face because the time away was so amazing. Ask yourself, “What will need to happen during the trip to put that smile there?” Maybe it’s sleeping in every morning, or going on a guided tour, or quality family time. Or maybe it’s even doing nothing at all with no schedule involved.

A little pre-planning ahead of time is a great way to set the tone for a successful trip. Of course there’s so much more to our process, but I’ll save that for later. For now, start small. Start putting a bit of intention into your vacations. You’ll be surprised – you may even exceed your expectations for a great trip!

Our 2010 winter cruise kick-off party was a success. We can barely wait for our Caribbean adventure! And I bet Bob Marley will be smiling down on us. All I have to say is that the ship we are cruising on this winter better look out – when the Stimpsons step on-board, it’s going to get crazy.

Author’s Post Note: Wanna see how our cruise turned out? Read all about it here!

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9 Responses to “Setting Intention With Bob Marley”

  • Okay, I admit it, I need a vacation!

    Over the past few years, our younger son has played summer baseball on a team that travels around the Midwest. So, our “vacations” have been in Hampton Inns and ball fields.

    Now our son is in college, we have time for a real vacation next summer. Thanks for your tips – and motivation to take one!


  • Janice says:

    Write the book already, will ya?

  • Rochelle Gale Weber says:

    Michelle, AGAIN…YOU WOW’D ME! I want to wave a magic wand and reduce myself to fit into a piece of your luggage and tag along!!! Thanks, Bill, for revealing yourself! (Although your identity, and the phenomenal partner that you are to Michelle, was never a secret to me.) Your lives constantly “shine”, and are a beacon of light to other couples who desire to enter into, and maintain, loving and meaningful relationships. I am so very proud of you two! ENJOY every minute of your cruise…Keep those postcards coming! Love, Auntie

  • You guys are so dang cute.

    I’m realizing in hindsight that this is what we did for the artist retreat I just came back from. We asked everyone ahead of time what they wanted to DO (or not do) during our long weekend together. There were 8 women – most of whom had never met – and I made a list of all the wonderful things people said they wanted to do. That kind of set the stage for folks and gave everyone the freedom to get what they needed/wanted out of the vacation. You and I have talked about this strategy before and I hadn’t even realized I used it until reading your post. Thanks, Michelle!

  • Jane says:

    I agree! That book will be wonderful when you launch it Michelle and Bill! And yes Liv, they ARE so dang cute!!

    Your strategy is important with vacations. Mike and I have found at times we simply need to get lost and roam….like flying to Seattle with backpacks and not fully knowing where, we just drive, hike mts. or stay in a cabin whatever we see, wherever there is room.

    I remember once in Mexico we never walked out the front door. We needed to just sit and eat nachos and float in the water. :) Ahhhhhh….vacations can be a blessing!!

  • @ Alex: Yes, sounds like you are in the perfect spot to start to get serious about that “real” vacation. There are definitely seasons in life, aren’t there? Knowing what I know about you and Mary Beth, you’ll both make it a GREAT one!

    @ Janice: Okay, okay – thanks for the subtle hint, and the smile, today!

    @ Rochelle: Thenks for all the cheerleading! You are so good at that. Funny, you aren’t the only person who says they’d like to sneak along in our luggage! Appreciate all the love. Oh, and postcards – yikes, the last one I sent was probably more than ten years ago! I actually gave those up because they felt like a “should”. :)

    @ Liv: How COOL that this is exactly what you did for your artist retreat! And I bet it set everyone up for success in being able to get what they needed from that special time. Thanks for sharing, and I’m so glad to know you had a wonderful time together!

    @ Jane: You and Mike are so good at getting away and getting what you need. I LOVE your spirit of adventure and how you follow your hearts wherever the path leads. Your Mexico example is making me laugh out loud – way too cute. You guys are awesome!

  • Connie says:

    What a great idea Michelle. I’m going on my first ever cruise in March with my kids and another family and I think it’s a great idea for us to all get on the same page about what we want out of our trip. Thanks for the great idea. Have fun on your cruise!!!

  • Jolene says:

    Great post, thanks. Anticipation can be half the fun of a great vacation, I enjoy the build up almost as much as the trip.

  • @ Connie: How exciting about your upcoming cruise! LOVE that way of vacationing. Yep, getting together ahead of time will be of great help. It will also give the kids “buy-in” on the trip and help them to feel involved. Fun!

    @ Jolene: Agreed! Anticipation is a huge part of any experience – why not extend the vacation and intentionally make it a longer, more fun experience?!

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Michelle Stimpson: Editor/Writer

Michelle Stimpson Hi and thanks for visiting - so glad you're here! This blog is especially for cool people who want to experience joy and live a life of purpose. Welcome!

Here you'll find great stories that will inspire you and remind you that life is good, and there's an abundance of joy all around us. Simply put: When you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy...the magic begins to unfold.

Start by checking out the "Best Of" page and be sure to consider subscribing above. Thank you and cheers to joy!

Michelle Joy Stimpson
Executive Editor & Writer
Life Coach, LifeShine

Bill Stimpson: Partner-In-Crime

Bill Stimpson Hi! Not only will you see me “show up” in many of Michelle’s stories and posts here, but I also serve as Michelle’s editor, helping her clarify intentions and make her posts shine.

One of the great joys in my life is being involved with this blog! It’s a constant reminder for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. It also feels great to be sharing so many of these joys with you - in hopes that you, too, will find ways to focus on your own joyful experiences.

Here's to an abundance of joy in your life!

Bill Stimpson
Hubby & Associate Editor

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