This past month my husband and I decided to not only move from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay Area, but we also decided to do it via a cross-country road trip. Since it was the holidays and we both had the time, we figured Why Not! and set our sights on a week-long trip along the historical Route 66. So, we packed our car (and our little Beta fish) and took to the road.
Now as I mentioned in my last post back in December I am about to start my own business, Why Not Girl! So making this transition to a new city and also taking this much time away gave me pause. (I’m sure most of you have felt this way just thinking about taking some time off for vacation.) Even though everyone tends to slow down during the holidays, how could I keep my eyes on the prize while being stuck in a car and, for much of our trip, not being able to get online? With the genius help of my husband, I began to look at the trip as a way to recharge my brain and find inspiration in the world.
So, here are five ways that I found to focus on my professional life while also enjoying an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience:
- Talk to strangers – Ok, I know our parents told us not to do this, but if you’re in a safe and comfortable environment with others like a restaurant I don’t see any harm in asking someone where they are from and why they are there. Especially when you find yourself somewhere like Amarillo and you’re seated next to someone who is clearly not from the Texas Panhandle, it’s interesting and insightful to learn more about them. Plus, it makes really great dinner conversation.
- Pick up a local paper – Forgo the automatic delivery of USA Today to your hotel room and just take the extra five minutes to walk to a nearby coffee shop and buy the local daily. You don’t have to read every article, but just by perusing the pages you can see what a town is all about.
- Check out storefront flyers – While you’re at that coffee shop, see what’s being posted on their windows and community boards. Find out what makes this place tick and what is happening around town. In addition to get insight, you may also find something unexpectedly fun to do.
- Be a tourist – Just embrace the fact that you are a passerby and be that goofball who always wanted to see that largest ball of string. The extra couple of minutes it takes to make that detour off the main highway can bring so many creative ideas that you would never have thought of while sitting at your desk at work.
- Look out the window – Don’t think that every minute of your ride needs to be filled with conversation. Take some time along the journey to sit still, be quiet and just look. What many of us tend to forget is that our country is a patchwork of so many different typographies and vistas. Be inspired by the road and the undeveloped land that surrounds you. It’s a beautiful view. Don’t let it pass you by as you pass it.
In our 2,300 mile trek I certainly had a lot of time to think about where my business could go in the short and long term. Whether you are starting your own business like me or you are figuring out that next campaign or solution your boss has been asking for, take a road trip or just go for a drive. As the famous beat writer Jack Kerouac said in his masterpiece On The Road, ““Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”