Laying in a hammock watching the waves chase each other to shore. A tuk tuk driver whispering stories about his daughter as the sun rose over Siem Reap. Camping on a deserted island with no one but the moonlight, my travel companions, and a bottle of Philippine rum.
As I sat down to write this piece about the lessons I’ve learned through travel, I quickly tried to recall the nomadic experiences that have stood out to me. Places I’ve been, feelings people gave me and moments forever etched in memory.
What I found fascinating was that the moments that came rushing into my consciousness after being stored over the years were not ones you would expect. I didn’t immediately think of bungee jumping in Whistler, or the boat ride that almost killed me, or the 2:00am climb up an active volcano in Indonesia.
Instead, my mind took me to the vulnerable moments, the moments of reflection, moments that if they could talk would say gently, “slow down and enjoy life”. I thought about my toes in the sand watching the sunset over Kaanapali. I thought about sitting in a cafe in Bali people watching as I sipped my morning latte. I thought about the memories I started this article with. Those waves. That man. That Island.
These moments that came to mind had one thing in common: they all caused me to pause.
To some, that’s the scariest word of all. It’s a word that startles us into stillness.
As I sit here in Vancouver, I’m surrounded by concrete buildings, listening to the sound of anxiety-fuelled car horns and motorcycle engines as they crawl across the blocks, stopped in their tracks by reoccurring red lights.
I have a computer, an Ipad, an iPhone and a flatscreen TV creating an octagon around me. I am the epitome of connected. And that is when it hit me. The contrast between where I sit now, and all those memories that came tumbling towards me. As it turns out, those are the moments my brain and the core of me urns for.
Stillness and disconnection.
As we build businesses, chase the corporate ladders, race to find life partners and grow up all too quickly, it’s easy to forget the importance of finding stillness. How can I slow down and enjoy life when my to-do list is a mile long?
“Checking my email will move the needle more than meditation will. Skipping a vacation this year will get me ahead so that I can take many more vacations one day.”
Your business and your life is suffering without stillness. Without it, you are suffocating progress. You are cutting off the universe from seeing your potential and you will continue to strangle your creativity and harm your ability to make decisions.
In order to truly do good work, show up as our best selves with the most influential ideas, we need to find clarity and reconnect with ourselves. This is not found by booking another meeting or taking on another project.
It is simple, and a mentality many live by outside of North America:
Slow Down and Enjoy Life.
This is what we do when we travel. Yet, we fail to implement these same practices in our day to day life, even though we know it makes us feel alive and free.
Here are a few ways I slow down and enjoy life amidst the hustle and bustle of city life and dream chasing:
Find your Meditation
While meditation may not be for everyone, some version of it is. It doesn’t need to look like someone cross legged in a candlelit room humming from the back of their throat. Just find moments of calm. Go for a walk. Go to yoga. Find the moments that make the hair on your neck stand up. The moments that make you forget the word Instagram. How you stack up against your competitors. What your pay grade is.
Chase those moments. Work insanely hard, but work hard to relish in those moments of achievement. Take time for yourself to be in your own skin and only yours.
Create moments where there is no technology or outside source infiltrating your outlook or perspective. Focus on human connection, and a connection to earth. Unplug and walk around this world as if you’re the only one in it.
Forget that 7 billion people are sitting in your pocket thanks to smartphone technology. This is where you will truly be able to dig deep into your vision for your future, for your business, or for the next step you want to take, be it personal or professional.
Take a vacation
I know travel can be expensive, but think of it as an investment for your business and for your health. Picture yourself in moments of travel, looking out at the vast ocean, or at the top of a mountain you just climbed in Hawaii, or waking up to fresh smoothies and a pool two feet from your bedroom. How does it make you feel? Chase that feeling all the way to google.ca and book a flight. These vacations will do more for your business than any news article, video, e-book, or conference ever will.