Gaining A New Perspective

A lot of people write to find out how they can travel like me. “Where in the world are you today,” many will ask. While my first response is to share my tips for trips so they can have a similar lifestyle, there’s something else they need to know first. This craving to escape it all isn’t serving them. Moving cross-country or traveling Europe for months will not solve all of the deep questions my friends have about their position in the world. Trust me, I’ve done it.

One nugget of wisdom I would send myself back in time is, “Everything is fine the way it is right now. There’s no need to pick up or go anywhere until you figure a few things out.” I spent too much time checking excursions off of my bucket list to notice the real problem with my life was me. Understanding my appreciation of culture with environment only developed over trial and error that in retrospect I’d give anything to do over. Now I tell my friends nothing is better than the place they are because it’s where they are.

Master Getting The Most Out Of What You Have

Mastering the challenge of gaining a new perspective will prepare them for the biggest challenge in experiencing something new. There’s no need to buy that $1,200 ticket to Australia if they aren’t already creating a desirable life for themselves at home. It didn’t feel like I’d really gotten the benefit of traveling until I did it solo because that’s where my perspective was forced to change. Whether they realize it or not, traveling with friends is only an extension of what they’re already doing at home. That’s an important factor.

Meet New People

When I say new that means far outside of your current social circle. By practicing the art of story listening I’ve been enchanted in my interactions with anyone willing to share a bit of their history with me, whether domestic or international. Creating conversations with random strangers isn’t enough since the element of a deeper connection happens when time is spent carefully paying attention to culture and surroundings. By harnessing their own style here, the process naturally engages their mind for richer experiences local or abroad.

Pickup A Good Book

Escaping the grind with a book of any type is a gift few have the attention span to enjoy. If they find themselves caffeinated to the point of intense concentration, an escape into a travel short story, classic novel or historical writing will free the boundaries they place on themselves through ordinary weekday existence. Book reading is the ultimate form of story listening in a separate context and expands the mind into a fantasy without the time or money it takes to travel large distances.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Become An Influencer

Introverts don’t have to be super social to be an influence in their own unique ways. By becoming part of an existing social group, the pressure of being the center of attention is gone. This opens them up to challenging others in the group to share who they are through stories. Of course extroverts are loud but does that make them effective? Are they currently creating a buzz around what they value in life? All of us seem to be on the journey of finding likeminded individuals. If my friends seek a new class of people then adopt qualities like those they wish to meet. Traveling to an exotic location will only offer more of the same if they aren’t prepared to manifest this law of attraction.

Take A 36 hour Road Trip

Crowd funding is one of my dark secrets in travel. Finding a group of awesome adventurers through the former strategies to take part in their journey creates an out of routine experience at a third the cost. The best part is there’s no limit to where they can go once the mind is free. Get out of the mindset that 10 hours is too far to drive. It is not unreasonable to fly to New York City for a weekend. By traveling in short 36 hour snapshots I’ve seen a large amount of the USA which gave me the courage to complete my international journeys since.

Your city doesn’t suck anymore because you understand that the place you live is where someone else longs to visit. Somewhere else in the world they read a short story fantasizing about experiencing the life you try to escape. Hedonic adaptation creates a warm place for you to preserve your happiness. We slowly adapt to our situation in order to survive so the things that are unique fade away quickly with routine and this is often mistaken for complacency. Try on the new perspective and ask your city out on a date. You’ll be surprised at what’s hiding right next door.

Limited Cognitive Resources

Everyone is always figuring out ways to get more done in less time. One thing that stood out to me recently was President Obama’s popular productivity hack. You’ll notice that he only wears gray or blue suits. This is because he wants to reduce the amount of decisions he has to make on the things that can be automated in his routine. One of the many things he does to keep focused on what matters. Less small decisions means more time for the big ones.

This limited cognitive resources conversation sparked in one of the groups I’m in because of discussing meal preparation. My friend Chris talked about his experience making simple meals with chicken and broccoli to manage his time. It is a brilliant and simple solution to making the investment up front of deciding meals for the week and cooking them. Chris benefits from using his time wisely but this isn’t the only way.

A large amount of the hospitality economy in America benefits from our love of dining out. Studies on how our minds are changing revealed millennial’s saying cereal is too difficult to make. This is primarily because of the process needed to pour the cereal, get out the milk and clean up any spills or dishes afterwards. Sounds crazy to me at first glance.

I think simply blaming this on the “entitlement generation” is to overlook the positive result of this fundamental shift. What if I told you that the millennial’s are simply acting as time economists? Advancements are causing us to look at productivity on a whole new level. By outsourcing the responsibilities of our food harvesting and preparation, we are opening a new world of time creation in our careers. In my opinion the line between work and life balance has meshed with one another in a new way. The masses are no longer responsible for maintaining gardens to grow their food so they are free to fully leverage their new found time to focus on the larger issues of social altruism.

Collecting Material Possessions

People became skeptical when they learned about my trip. Many ask if I was escaping some sort of problem. It’s unusual to just pick up and drive across country by yourself with really no plan other than to explore. My answer was simple as I shared my story of seeing the old man in the RV, not wanting not to be my future. But the more I thought about life and the money we make. The things we do day-to-day that we consider important I started to realize something else.

Money to me has a much deeper meaning then it’s ability to buy time. First they say, you cannot “lifetime”. However, money gives us the freedom to enjoy certain aspects of life that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. We are taught from young to use money for the accumulation of material things. Which I personally have my own things that I collect, so who am I to judge?

I collect small things, onesie may not even notice. So small in fact that it takes a large amount of them to really make a difference. But as you start collecting these things and building them up, every new thing you collect becomes even more valuable and make sure life that much better. These things are what I call experiences.

That’s Common Sense

It’s a played out thing to hear so often when someone views the actions of others being unlike their own. “That should be common sense.” Common sense doesn’t even seem clear to me how a theory so general of the world could be the basis for any knowledge we could assume someone else also has. Our ability to perceive, understand and judge things are all philosophically linked.

Common sense would say that it is not smart to buy things we can’t afford, do harmful drugs, binge drink and many other things that are detrimental to self-preservation. But what if I told you what may seem common sense to you is not common practice? Would it give you a little more patience with others that don’t see things the same way as you? Could it change your world? Influence others?

“Common sense is neither common nor sense.” – Jim Taylor

Things that distance us

A video I watched yesterday that intended to make a parody of situations where at first glance you’d think something different than what wasn’t obvious. One displayed a group of women out to eat lunch while a man pulls up in a convertible with what seems like an attractive blonde in the passenger seat. The woman was visibly perturbed. The camera pans to the man petting his bosses pedigree show dog with a comically long amount of blonde hair hanging from either side of its head. At the end of the clip were the words, “Don’t judge too quickly.”

All of these mechanisms of judgment result in creating a psychological distance between two people and decrease the amount of deep meaningful connection that is possible with vulnerability. What you think is common sense is not someone else’s common practice so give them the benefit of the doubt.

The world is counting on you to make a difference.

 

Being Remembered for What Counts

The old saying goes something like, “People will not remember you for what you did or said, but how you made them feel.” How are you impacting every person around you? Do you take the time to truly connect with friends? Family members? Coworkers?

A few years ago I attended a funeral and listened carefully to what was said about the gentleman who had passed. Tears of joy, anger and sadness swept across the room with a series of stories that took place. This got me to thinking about my own life and what others will say about me when I pass on.

To the drawing board. This year I’ve compiled a 2013 goals list. In this list I have reminded myself to not wait to start living. When weaving my life story I’d like to leave back a positive impact on others but also see how best I can stick to my mission statement throughout the year. Over the course of life it is not what you do in a single moment but that which you do consistently that will bring the happiness and success you seek.

Have you ever thought about writing your own eulogy? A mission statement in many ways is similar, except of course used under very different circumstances. Think about taking some time to be intentional about asking yourself questions that will inspire your growth. It’s painful to think that we will not always be remembered for what counts if we are too involved in our own situations that we cannot be outwardly focusing on creating positive feelings in others.

Humans are hard wired to be social beings. Interdependence is an important part of survival even though we seem more disconnected than ever lately with the wave of technology. Stand out and make a difference to someone new, one soul at a time.

Spend Money on Relationships, Not Experiences

Investing in relationships with other people is the single most important thing I’ve ever done. No traveling experience or material possession has brought me the same long lasting joy. When I look back at pictures of places I’ve been I remember what the mountain air smelled like, subtle tastes hidden in the food and rush from being a stranger in a new city. It’s a gift I’ve given to myself to relive those magic moments the rest of my life.

Coming from someone who has traveled 37 U.S. States and 12 countries in the past 3 years it doesn’t surprise me how travel is romanticized through social media. It’s a ton of fun. While there are still a lot of places on my list to visit I can confidently say I’ve “been there” on the pursuit of experiences.

In some earlier writings I talk about my flip-flopping between enjoying my isolation in nature to seeking social interaction in the city. There’s a certain tolerance for each traveler to have a variety of experiences based on their personality or simply timing. My own groove is somewhere in the middle of taking nature hikes to spending time in hostels making new friends. There’s one thing that the media hype surrounding travel lifestyles are selling to you: The unsettled feeling of missing out on life.

The reason I chose this photo is to demonstrate the type of marketing that is at play in making you feel like you’re not doing enough, not seeing enough and not being enough. While I am a huge fan of marketing it is still obvious to me that the pretty package of selling the romantic idea of experiences versus material possessions is simply another tactic to unsettle your soul. An easy hierarchy can help to simplify the order of priority I learned through traveling, buying and meeting.

Relationships > Experiences > Things.

When I look at the faces of the people I love there’s a deeper appreciation for all of the laughter shared together through all types of landscapes imaginable. Don’t let the world hide from you the beauty in meaningful connections with your peers. It will outlast any trip or mansion you strive to achieve in this world, I promise.

We Listen At 125 Words Per Minute

Listening is difficult because most of us are distracted, preoccupied or forgetful about 75% of the time. There are a lot of useful and useless things begging for attention throughout the day. It doesn’t help that the science behind how we absorb information is against us as well. Trust me, I’m no exception.

My insatiable curiosity for life naturally positions me for mass consumption. Hundreds of books that I’ve read leave me with a jumbled thoughts that tend to come out during strange times. “How can anyone possibly know that,” my friends remark after I come up with useless factoids about the world. One of my favorite things to blurt out is, “according to an article I read last week!”

In order to connect better with others and stimulate my creativity, I’m on a journey to improve my listening skills. We listen at 125-250 words per minute, but think at 1,000-3,000 words per minute. As you can imagine this causes a breakdown for those of us trying to get things done or hear a story. Immediately after we listen to someone, we only recall about 50% of what he or she said. Long term, we only remember 20% of what we hear.

Those are pretty depressing statistics if you ask me. What about those of us who are listening to our podcasts and audiobooks on 3x speed? Are we doomed to retain less than twenty percent of those, too?

By implementing The Rule of Three in my information archiving system in Trello and note applications, I am able to record actionable nuggets from dialogue. Whether it be a conversation with a peer, TED talk or audio book there’s a few simple takeaways that help me to get the most out of invested time. Amplify your curiosity as a learner by focusing on three major points to clarify with your conversation partner or record in your journal.

I Will Die on March 10, 2072

My estimated life expectancy is 84.54 years. That’s according to a rough calculation completed by a robot and backed by a friendly bit of science. It asked lifestyle questions then generated a fancy what if scenario around changing those habits. Compared to the average person I seem to be ahead in only a few categories.

Raw Nerdtastic Expectancy Data

• Lower Quartile: 77.00 years (75% chance you will live longer than this)

• Median Lifetime: 87.21 years (50% chance you will live longer than this)

• Upper Quartile: 95.21 years (25% chance you will live longer than this)

• If you do not drive, your life expectancy would be 0.37 years longer

• If you do not have any stress listed in the table, your life expectancy would be 0.57 years longer

• If you become a conditioning exerciser, your life expectancy would be 0.99 years longer

• If you consume all 5 types of food everyday, your life expectancy would be -0.00 years longer (I hope tacos are a food group because this number is definitely wrong)

• Having between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a day has maximized your life expectancy

• If all of the above choices are adopted, your life expectancy would be 1.79 years longer (oh goodie)

While working on my life plan a few months ago I thought it would be cool to use an expectancy calculator to add perspective. Everyone says it’s gone in a blink, but how close is it really? By no means do I expect this to be 100% accurate, but it’s simply fascinating to me to have a date when my century long carnival ride is finally over. Coming to terms with mortality puts my focus on gratitude. Enjoying the moments I have to slowly iterate each shift in course along the way.

Planning in decades is a technique I’ve used for a while. Thinking in large amounts of time while asking myself the question, “What is the theme?” gives a sense of comfort in understanding how the giant puzzle pieces fit together. The theme of my 20s is Discovery and Exploration, as I imagine yours may be as well. If not, rest easy; there will be some grand adventures in your future my friend.

My 30s are not defined and up until now this was a source of anxiety. This was misplaced emotion. Wherever you are in life look for the themes that already exist which brought you to the awesome today you marinate in. Therein lies clues to where your internal compass has led you thus far. All of us plan whether we intend to or not. What ports will you visit in your beautiful billion dollar yacht (yes I’m talking about your kick butt life) before a final sail into the horizon?

Why the 50 States?

A few months ago I passed an RV on the highway and a decal on the side of it caught my eye. There was a magnet that had all 50 states outlined. Bright states that the rig had been to were scattered about, but many were missing. I peered into the window and looking down at me was a man in his 60s. At that moment I decided I would focus all my drive and determination toward seeing the world with all my health, youth and vitality. My idea of retirement is not watching life through a pane of glass.

One of the biggest regrets I read about in a recent article of the dying was that they never utilized the time they had while they had health. Something we all take for granted. Without sounding negative, it always boggled my mind reading and hearing about the passion that the 20-something generation has for travel. Travel has become a buzz word to say at local bars or post on dating websites when describing ones desires in life.

It interests me greatly to travel the world around me and discover others while learning more about myself. An article I stumbled across explained an alternative to traditional college education by completing a series of tasks. Culture and maturity, they say, are the things we truly continue our schooling past high school for. Memorize the names of every country, buy a round the world plane ticket, read classic texts, acquire a variety of interesting skills and write.Many of my travels are embarked upon alone and have brought me a great level of joy and happiness in doing so. It’s not as lonely as one may think it is out there. I’ve found much solitude and oneness with others, nature and art during adventures. Somehow colleagues find it odd or crazy that I experience the world in this way so I learned to embrace the uniqueness of my technique and use it as a platform to share.The average outcome of your life is based off of small decisions you make every day. Today I decide to follow my dream instead of letting dogma follow me.

How I Plan Trips

Last minute trips are exhilarating. The most spontaneous I did was during spring break one year I had planned to stay home and my friend called at 9pm and said “jet blue is selling tickets for $20 round trip to fly to JFK but we have to leave at 5am tomorrow”. So 5 of us hopped in the car at 10:30p and drove to west palm beach to fly out to NYC. The catch was, we had to fly back the same day. We went to manhattan, had NY style pizza, saw Wall Street battery park and grand central station, ate sushi in TriBeCa and got on a plane home. Crazy?