What You Learn from Leaving Town

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I’ve just come back2016-06-06 19.53.27 from a 2-week trip around England. Mostly road trips around Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, and meandering through the countryside to out of the way places. I have developed a wanderlust in this chapter of my life and get great pleasure in planning and then taking, trips to interesting places.

Stepping away from a busy life and all things familiar is hugely beneficial to my creative mindspace and gives me the opportunity to be free of daily demands for a while. Every trip also teaches me something new, or reinforces an already strongly held belief, so here are a few from this trip:

Things are not the same when you step out of your world.

From the smallest thing (using different vocabulary and spelling) to the biggest (driving on a different side of the car and road), when you step out of your comfort zone, you are challenged. Instead of fearing the challenge, if you embrace it, you expand your knowledge and experiential savvy. Sometimes in life we live too safely in our comfort zones and as a result, never grow.

Even the best prepared plans sometimes don’t work.

One huge learning this trip was that nothing was ever as quick and easy as I thought it would be, when ensconced in my US office and copiously preparing the trip book. Just because Google says the journey is 25 miles/30 minutes, does not mean it will be that way. If I’d allowed this to freak me out, I probably would not have enjoyed the trip as much. It took re-working the plan on a daily, even hourly basis, to making course corrections to a new reality. If we don’t develop the agility to do so with all our life plans, the journey is no longer fun. Write your plans in pencil and be willing to use the eraser when you have to!

When you reach out to others, you engage and enjoy relationship.

I had the opportunity to witness several miserable, rude travelers and notice the reactions of the people around them, including myself. You get what you expect in life. We took time to really engage with people we met, asking them questions and listening to their stories. Whether a fellow air passenger, or volunteer at a tour stop, people love to talk about themselves and their own lives. Engaging with others enriches our lives. Keep your eyes and ear open to the beauty of others in your journey.

History helps us understand where we’ve come from, but our vision allows us to direct our own paths.

As is usually the case when visiting Britain, we went to several major landmarks including Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, Winchester Cathedral, the Tower of London. Since my heritage is English, I am always interested in the history of my ancestors. But once understood and visited, we were happy to move on. Looking forward and knowing that I am building my own future, right now, is exhilarating. Don’t spend too much time looking back. Just as you glance in the review mirror while driving, your focus remains on the road in front of you.

When you are impatient with results, you may miss what’s just around the corner. 

Following that thought of where to focus, I also realized that too often we panic when things don’t seem right and start to question ourselves, giving into doubt and anxiety, rather than patience and confidence. One such example was when walking home from the village in Henley-on-Thames, we didn’t go along the road far enough, and turned up incorrectly. The road was a bit longer than I expected and when I saw it taking a bend, I doubted that we had to go that far. This resulted in a LOT more walking and some level of frustration. When driving back down the next day, I noticed that we were on the right road and had I just 2016-06-05 11.47.58_4continued for about another 100 paces, I would have found the correct turn, and avoided all the extra steps. In life, trust the process, and be patient.

Sometimes your life is sidetracked toward something better.

Wisdom comes from knowing what is a delightful and deliberate meandering vs. what wrong turn has put you on a road to nowhere. We had several experiences of this on our journey. Sometimes we would purposely get sidetracked and enjoy a little experience before heading back to the main road. But at least once, we wasted nearly an hour trying to get back on track from a wrong turn on a freeway, resulting in stress and frustration. Translated into how to manage life goals, I would say that you have to evaluate what appears to be a distraction from a specific path. Once you take the diversion, don’t spend too long before you determine if it’s something better, or something that has you completely off track. You can’t afford to waste time, but you also don’t want to miss hidden opportunities that bring great results. You can only get good at that, if you are very clear about your overall purpose and direction, as well as how much time you have to get there.

 

Take time to get out of your “familiar” – you will discover so much out there!