I spent most of this summer on an epic road trip with my family, traveling from our home in Dayton, Ohio, to beautiful Vancouver Island, Canada.
We were gone for six weeks, and since I’ve been back, many people have asked, “What was your favorite part of the trip?” While I had many favorite parts, what I’m most interested in sharing are the lessons I learned along the way. I’ll be sharing five of those lessons in a series of blog posts over the next several weeks.
Whether you decide to take your own road trip or not, I hope you enjoy them!
With no further ado, the first and biggest lesson I learned was…
It’s okay to work less: The experience is the priority.
I actually learned this lesson before I left. I was on a call with my coach, worrying about how I was going to manage my business and personal life while traveling.
Being a recovering overachiever, I worried that I’d spend too much time on my laptop, and that I’d return with regrets about not fully experiencing what this trip had to offer. Work has traditionally been my priority and even though I talk a good game about “work-life balance” I struggle to put that into practice.
My coach listened and then responded with a phrase that I immediately wrote on a sticky note and stuck to my computer, where it remains to this day.
“It sounds like this experience is the priority,” she said.
When she put it that way, things clicked into place.
Maintaining email was not the priority.
Getting new clients was not the priority.
Making progress on my next book was not the priority.
The experience was the priority.
This phrase helped me create boundaries around my work while traveling. I cut my work to three days per week, four hours each day. And for the most part, I stuck to it. When I’d start to feel anxious about “not working enough,” I’d look back at my little sticky note and remind myself that, for these six weeks, work was not my priority. The experience was.
Interestingly, when I returned home, I had an a-ha. This way of being did not need to be just limited to a trip to Canada. In fact…
My life experience can be the priority ALL THE TIME.
Cue the mic drop.
This doesn’t mean that I’ll only ever work 12 hours a week, but it does mean that I can always prioritize my life experience over my work productivity.
This has been a major shift for me.
As a result, I blocked off my Mondays and Fridays for self-care (yoga and hiking), writing (my favorite part of my business!), and admin tasks (email, errands, etc.). This allows me to make sure that I’m feeding my body and creative spirit while also taking care of all the pesky little things we all need to do to keep life running.
I reserved my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for client work and planning. These are the days that will more likely resemble “work days.”
It’s my first week trying out this new schedule, but already I can tell you that it feels wonderful!
I realize that I’m privileged to do work that allows me to set my own schedule. But even if you work a traditional 9-5, you can still prioritize your life experience.
No matter what your schedule looks like, ask yourself: What would it look like to prioritize my life experience?
See if you can get a picture in your mind. Would there be more walks in the woods? More porch time with your neighbors? Creative cooking excursions in the kitchen? It’s your life, so think about the activities that make you feel most alive.
Then ask yourself: What boundaries would I need to put in place to get closer to that?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that life is all about the boundaries. When I don’t set boundaries, my life is at the whim of every email, social media distraction, or request for my time.
Prioritizing our life experience requires setting boundaries.
There is no way around it.
So, what boundaries are necessary for those hikes, that porch time, and those wild cooking creations you’re itching to make?
For many of us, the boundaries require putting our work into a box that allows us more balance. For instance, if you work a 9-5, can you set a boundary that you actually leave at 5? If that’s not possible every day, could you do that three times/week? Twice per week? Can you let your co-workers know that you don’t check email after hours or on weekends? Can you negotiate a 4-day workweek that allows you a day to spend in nature or connecting with friends? Could you reopen that conversation with your boss about working remotely part-time?
There are many possibilities to help you prioritize your life experience, but all of them require setting some type of boundary about how and when you’re available for work.
I hope this lesson helped you in some way. We only get one life, so having an amazing experience should always be our top priority!
If something in this post resonated with you, feel free to email me personally at [email protected] and let me know. I’d also love to know what you do to prioritize your life experience!