Friday, July 24, 2015

Getting the benefits of a road trip without the trip

When I decided I would quit my paying job to pursue full-time writing, I was on the road somewhere between Wisconsin and California. Of course, the road trip wasn't the only reason I came to that decision; I believe my life has been heading this way all along. But thanks to that road trip, I finally made a concrete plan to make it happen and set that plan into motion.

I'm currently on my first major road trip since that one, and being on the road again has reminded me just how much clarity I felt last time. I'm left wondering what is it about road trips that make them so helpful in personal growth and decision making? And how can we experience some of that in our day-to-day lives?

Unplug. I never use my phone as much on my trips because I end up in roaming on my phone. Especially on this trip, which has taken me into territory where my SIM card doesn't work. Yes, I can still check my email and social media while I'm at the hotel, but my contact with others is significantly decreased, just like it was the year I decided to pursue my dream full time. But back at the hotel, even without being able to get calls and texts, I'm constantly watching my cell phone to learn about new emails, new happenings online, etc. If you have some serious thinking to do, that has to go. Turn off your phone. Refuse to check your email. Maybe you won't disconnect for long, but even just having a space of thirty minutes where you're left to your own thoughts can do wonders for you. One example? Tonight, after sitting in front of the TV, trying to think of a blog post for about an hour, I took my laptop outside to type this blog post. I didn't bring out my phone, and I'm not checking my email. Less than ten minutes later, I'm already this far into the post.

Take time off work. When we don't have to worry about something for a few days at a time, we can go back to it with fresh perspective. Sometimes, when I work on writing every day of the week, I become overly sensitive to critiques, and I decide I can't write anything good. If I take some time off, I regain my footing on what works and what doesn't, what needs to go and what needs to stay. We can't always take a vacation, but we can take advantage of the time off we do have, including lunch breaks, evenings, and weekends. Sure, sometimes your job will demand extra time. And sometimes, you don't mind spending longer at work. But make sure you take time off--preferably before you lose perspective, because if you let it go that far, it'll take even longer to rebound.

Get out of your comfort zone. Road trips force us to adapt and step into the unknown. Visiting a foreign country, exploring a new city or region, or dealing with any number of road trip set backs--all of this helps stretch us into seeing that there's more than one way to live our lives. Possibilities open up, and we get a little more used to the discomfort that comes with new situations. This primes us for change in other areas. Even from home, we can try new things. We can join groups or clubs. We can attend community events, volunteer, or visit local attractions that we've been walking past for years. Look for ways to get out of your rut!

Of course, unless you live in the Rockies, you won't be able to take pictures like the ones in this post without taking a trip of some kind :)

What is your favorite part of road trips?

Your Sister

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