I gave myself a precious gift – a month away from work. In fact, I was away from most everything familiar except my husband, Scott and 13 year old son, Cole. We spent January travelling prior to moving to Wellington, one week on a remote island in Fiji (no internet or roads) and three weeks discovering the remarkable South Island of New Zealand.
When was the last time you disconnected? I mean truly disconnected? It’s getting harder and harder. When was the last time you hit the road to an unfamiliar place to explore? Here are some valuable benefits I gleaned from my month on the road.
1. Get rid of the mental clutter
Most of our travel was to remote places, without internet access. It’s incredible how much brain space you gain when you eliminate time on-line! Most of us are drowning in stimuli. Not until we’ve turned off the power do we realize we’ve succumbed to tech overload. By stopping this avalanche of clutter, I rested my brain and my soul. I replaced e-mail and google with journaling and walking. I reacquainted myself with myself.
P.S. we’re also liberated of physical clutter, arriving with one suitcase each. But that topic warrants a whole separate blog!
2. Be present
Of course disconnecting makes being present more possible. I found myself listening much more actively to people. I was in new places daily and I intently focused on my surroundings. I spent hours mesmerized by the beauty, complexity and variety of ferns, New Zealand’s national symbol. Have you paused lately to take stock of your surroundings? I mean, really carefully examine and appreciated your environment?
3. Explore the road less travelled
When you travel, unanticipated choices surface constantly. In our goal-oriented world, we have lost touch with the benefit of exploring uncharted paths. We hesitate to make time and take risks to explore. One of the most magical moments of our travel happened when we left the guide books behind, wandering along the shore of a small coastal village after dinner as the sun set. All-of- the- sudden we were nose to nose with a group of penguins coming ashore to nest for the night after a long day’s swim. These blue penguins are the smallest of the species and unique to this locale. What a marvel!
4. Bring the right tools
Having the right tools is one of the most important drivers of employee satisfaction. No wonder! Without the right tools, it is terribly frustrating and sometimes downright impossible to be effective.
New Zealand has notoriously unpredictable and variable weather and it’s essential to have the right gear for mountain hiking. When we backpacked three days on the Routeburn Trail, one of the country’s famous hikes, in one day we adjusted layers of clothes practically every hour. We started the day in a hail storm, basked in glorious sunshine and during a downpour appreciated dry sacks. A family caught in torrential rain used duct tape to craft a shoe when their young son’s boot was washed away in a raging river.
5. Pause – Don’t always trust your intuition
I’m highly intuitive and I’ve found through the years I can rely on my gut in most situations. Not true when driving on the opposite side of the road! Some people are adept at adapting to a reversal of familiar driving habits, but I get overwhelmed and really need to put the brakes on my natural response before acting. I’m reminded that in foreign circumstances, intuition does not always serve well. It is worthwhile to pause and consider the differences, cultural and physical, that require new responses.
Have you take the opportunity to get off the grid? How has time away benefitted you? And if you haven’t, what’s preventing you from giving yourself this gift?