Afterglow How to make the most of an adventure abroad

Kunene Sunset

Seven of us stood on the mountainside, quietly contemplating a deep red sunset over the vast Namib desert. Not another soul in sight. Not a sound to be heard.

As we slowly turned towards each other, our faces reflected the same feelings: awe, humility and a profound sense of peace.

Adventures abroad tend to put life at home in perspective. Distance brings the sum of life’s minor details into focus, often in unexpected ways.

I thought about this every day last month, while flying in between Namibian eco-lodges, bouncing through stunning national parks in the back of a Land Rover and making new friends, if only by chance.

Now that I’m back in Vancouver, I’ve tried very hard to bring the perspective gained into my daily life, rather than get right back into routine. If you’ve ever wanted to do the same, here are some ways to get started:

  1. Recognize what a gift it is to express yourself outside of work. I barely spoke about my work while I was away. Rather than describe what I do for a living, I talked about who I am and what matters to me.
  2. Meet people where they are. Travel forces you to accept people at face value. The strategic planning and change management work that I do is heavily future-focused; many of my client contacts are anxious about their personal role in it. Accepting them as they are, where they are and without assumptions is an integral part of building trust as projects take shape and teams reconfigure.
  3. If you use a travel journal, don’t put it away when you get home. I’ve kept writing in mine, trying to connect the helpful observations that I made while away with the familiar context of life in Vancouver.
  4. Make adventure a regular part of your life. So often, we return to efficient routines. What’s thrilling about vacations is discovering the unexpected and pushing yourself to keep exploring.
  5. Stay in touch. Have you met interesting people on vacation and exchanged contact information only to let good intentions fall aside? I have. This time I prioritized sending a note to my fellow travellers when I got home. It felt much better than the guilt that comes from not following up.

Namibia was a “bucket list” destination for me. I wanted the profound impact of this journey to amount to more than an Instagram post or a flag on my travel map. Although the temptation to rely on ingrained thought reflexes is still strong,  I’m certain that if I build some new habits, I can realize the full value of my experience. I hope you can do the same with yours.

Good Intentions

By March, those of us with personal practice development goals know what we need to accomplish by year-end (usually). We also know how easily the best of intentions can be set aside during daily work.

There are as many excuses to stop working towards long-term goals as there are distractions. Busy-work makes us feel productive. As Leigh Buchanan points out in a recent article in Inc. magazine, it’s also a trap.

Proven techniques help the dispirited stay on track. Why not try a few?


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