January 6, 2014
I’m writing this post from Hong Kong. I here because I was invited to participate in a professional exchange program sponsored by the US State Department, University of Connecticut, and Hong Kong Baptist University. I’m here to learn from and job shadow professionals in the sports and youth development field. It’s part cultural exchange/understanding – part professional development. I’ll write more about it in another post. Instead, I wanted to write about the greatest gift you can ever receive – time.
I often travel for STOKED. Mainly to Los Angeles, but over the past year I got to visit Lisbon, Aspen, Denver, Boston, Connecticut, and San Francisco for work. Every single time I have the opportunity to travel I cherish it. You know the expression – “It’s the journey, not the destination.” Whether by plane, car, or train, the time and the space that I get to think, read, problem solve, and brainstorm is valuable. So when I was planning my trip to Hong Kong and I heard that I had 16 hours of solo time, I was completely stoked.
Here are the reasons why I enjoy traveling and how I best use the time productively:
Being unplugged gives you space: On my long flight to Hong Kong, there was no WIFI on the plane. My phone was off. That meant no Facebook, Instagram, email or Twitter. Being unplugged allowed me the freedom of being unaccountable to anyone – no family, friends, work. It’s like this gap between where you’re from and where you’re going. For me, it’s like the first layer in being able able to be present with what’s going on in my life and work.
Silence is good for your brain: On planes or trains, because you don’t know anyone there’s no pressure to talk. In fact, if you are looking to talk on a plane, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Often times in social situations conversations always revolve around superficial subjects or the topics around what type of work you do. Although I sometimes take those opportunities to network and promote my work, if I have a lot on my mind or I need to figure out something I just remain silent. The act of not speaking can cause a sense of anxiety in some, and your mind is racing with conversations in your head. However, once you accept the fact that there’s no pressure to speak, it can be meditative and soothing. I often crave time to not speak to anyone.
Movement provides perspective and solutions: I love staring out the window of planes and trains. Looking at clouds or whizzing past towns on a train is amazing for either brainstorming or figuring out solutions to problems. I liken it to exercising during intense times. It just helps. Here’s how: Have something you need to figure out or something on your mind. Think about it quickly. Then, pick an object out the window and focus on it. Watch a cloud for a long period of time until it’s out of your sight. Count the trees. Look at the wing on the plane. If you focus on them long enough, you’ll start getting ideas and solutions to problems.
The next time you have a long journey on a plane or train, instead of dreading it, welcome it and use that opportunity to work on a project or find a solution to a problem you’ve been working on.