Last week, I shared my initial takeaways from our recent RV trip though Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Upon some additional reflection, here are five more insights that I wanted to share.
5. Less is Often More: Living with four other people in 200 square feet of space for 10 days gave me some important perspectives. First, I was reminded that happiness is really not connected to material goods. Having less things (clothes, toys, gadgets, cars, shoes, bags, etc.) can be very liberating, especially as we traveled each day with all our possessions. Along our journey, we met many people who had sold their homes and belongings and were now happily living in their RV. They were fully mobile and enjoying life to the fullest. Although I didn’t bring that many clothes, I could have brought half of what I did and been fine.
6. Constraints Improve Creativity: Having constraints (space, monetary, etc.) forces you to be much more creative in solving problems and finding solutions, rather than just throwing money or resources at a problem. For example, we used duct tape and bungee cords in a myriad of different ways and a highlight of the trip was when we made an ice cream cookie pie in a frying pan over an open fire that will become a family tradition. We also got creative about recycling and waste, which you become aware of when you have to travel with your trash.
7. Over-Scheduling is Over-Rated: Somehow, we have come to associate being busy as being better. We spend our weekends running from activity to activity and have a hard time saying no, something that we often carry over into our vacations. I’m totally guilty of this. I tend to try and pack in way too much in a short amount of time; I over-schedule and then regret it.
With only ten days to enjoy two of the most captivating parts of US, we knew we needed some sort of plan – especially since we had kids with us. And while we scheduled hikes, swims and other fun excursions, some of the best moments of the trip were the unplanned ones. This included the kids’ playing cards on my son’s birthday while looking for bears at sunrise on the side of the road; roasting s’mores; and playing “do you remember” from past vacations. Often, the desire to see and do everything ends up diluting the overall experience.
We have decided to cut back on some activities this fall so that we can dedicate more of our weekends to “family time” instead of “divide and conquer” time.
8. Dare to Delegate: This entire trip would not have been possible had I not coordinated with team members, delegated my responsibilities and created processes and escalation paths that others could follow in my absence. For the very first time, I made the decision to completely walk away from my e-mail while on vacation, something that I was nervous about doing. I even removed my work e-mail from my phone.
Making and acting on the decision to truly un-plug forced me to create long-overdue delegation processes. Was it a perfect process? No. But one should never expect a new process to be. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Now, I know what worked and what didn’t so I can improve the process for next time. One thing that this email-unplugging experiment definitely did was allow me to see the value of permanently changing how I interact with my e-mail going forward.
9. Detox from Digital: Related to #8 above, this was my first real digital detox. As with any detox, I experienced some withdrawal for the first day or two, but it subsided quickly by the third day. It also helped that most of Yellowstone doesn’t have cell phone coverage, so there really wasn’t even an opportunity to cheat; nor did I want to. It was a welcome change.
There is a real fear that our technology has become an addiction and that our brains crave the dopamine in the same away as other stimulants. Without the constant distraction, I was able to read and write more attentively, think more creatively and contemplate strategically about the future of my business and family. I even had several breakthroughs on both fronts. It was also really nice to focus on and engage with my kids, play games and simply enjoy each other’s company.
If you have yet to visit Yellowstone, Grand Tetons or any National Park for that matter, I can’t recommend it enough. I think you’ll find the experience unrivaled, inspiring and truly memorable.
If you do plan on a trip to WY, reach out. I am happy to share our itinerary.
Quote of the Week
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”
* Glazer Family Grilled Cookie Recipe: Light a fire and lightly spray a flying pan with Olive oil. Open package of Immaculate Baking Cookie Dough. Fill pan with dough balls, pressing them flat to cover up any seams. Cook for 20-30 minutes about three to six inches away from the flame, making sure outsides aren’t sticking to pan (similar to an omelette) with your spatula. Add a pint of your favorite ice cream to top and remember the handle will be hot. Enjoy!