For as long as I can remember, there have been alternating times of peace, challenge and complete chaos in my life.

I don’t think these patterns are abnormal, but in this last round of chaos I felt a strong, desperate need to get away for awhile by myself–the adult version of running away. And so I took a little vacation to one of my favorite places: Kauai.

“Hah,” I thought, “Now that I’m by myself I’ll be free to live an ideal life of feeling great with no stress: healthy eating, daily meditation and exercise, large outputs of wonderful writing, and uninterrupted sleep, all in serene communion with the natural beauty of the island.”

Well, it didn’t quite go the way I expected.

This is what I discovered when I watched myself “live” by myself for ten days:

  • I eat when I’m not hungry, and I still eat poorly (just island-style)
  • I drink when I’m not thirsty
  • I imbibe (wine mostly) for seemingly no reason at all
  • I avoid writing any way I can
  • I shop impulsively and in spurts
  • I can’t sleep
  • I wander
  • I read too much (yes, that’s possible)

Basically, I still did all the things I did at home, just more of them because I had more free time to do them.

However, the cool thing was that I recognized these avoidance tactics early enough to try to become aware of the root cause of my behavior. Surrendering to my inner nerd, I applied a Six Sigma technique I learned at work to get to the root cause of a problem:  The 5 Whys.

  1. Why am I so listless?
    Because I’m bored.
  2. Why am I bored? I always tell my kids you can’t be bored unless you’re boring.
    Well, as it turns out, I am boring. Yes I am! At least to myself.
  3. Why am I boring?
    Because I’ve become undisciplined.
  4. Why am I undisciplined?
    Because discipline is hard. But mostly because I have no goals.
  5. Why don’t I have any goals?
    Because I forgot how to be happy.

That’s strange. I’m not unhappy, but I don’t feel happy either. I think I know why.

Solving that mystery is the subject of the next blog post.