Friday, July 29, 2016

5 Ways You Can Love Your Vacation Time

This is the first time I've written since July 6.  That's twenty-three days.  Of course, my Twitter and Facebook feeds continued to churn out links to previous posts.  That's the magic of HootSuite.  But, the reason I took a three-week break from writing is not because I got lazy or ran out of ideas (far from it - I presently have 54 ideas in development for future posts).  I simply took a vacation.  And even though blogging is not, technically, my "job", that doesn't mean I should keep doing it in the midst of a vacation.  In fact, I think our culture has a very skewed and unhealthy view of what vacation means.

It seems like we default to either working at home or going way overboard on entertainment when we say "vacation".  I say it should be a restful intermission from life as we know it. How many times have you anticipated vacation for weeks and months only to get back to normal life more tired and worn out than when you started?  Our family took a Spring break trip to Daytona Beach this past March.  While there were aspects of it that were fun and enjoyable, a 9-day trip that consists of 4 days of travel in a minivan with 4 boys ages 12 and under is not exactly a recipe for rest and relaxation.  I have some good friends who just returned from a Disney vacation. Thier main feedback.  We paid a lot of money to stand in lines.  Where's the magic in that?  Maybe you can identify? I say it should not and does not have to be this way.

Last week, I finished the best vacation I've had in well over 10 years. Actually, it was a "staycation" and I'd like to share with you a few things I think I did right that facilitated my "vacation success".  My hope is that some of these ideas can help you have better vacation time, in the future.  But, before I do that, please don't hear what I'm not saying.  I'm not saying Disney or the beach are evil.  I'm not saying don't do anything.  I'm not saying don't have fun.  All I am saying it that you should carefully consider how your vacation plans intersect with your stage of life and plan wisely.

Here are 5 things I believe helped me have a great vacation.  Some intentional, some accidental.

  1. Unplugged (Intentional) - Sara and I both deleted social media and email apps from our phones.  We did stay somewhat connected via computers, but it was more like once a day or every other day, not 5 times per hour.  Now that I'm back to normal life, I'm not planning to put the Facebook app back on my phone.  It's more of a time-waster than anything else for me.  I also set vacation responses on all my email accounts and did not check email once for 18 days.  The world did not stop.  
  2. Punched the calendar in the face (Intentional) - I'm a huge lover of calendar planning and schedules, but for most of those 18 days, I did not know what day it was and I'm saying that is a good thing, periodically.  If your normal life is governed by heavy schedules, it may be good to get off schedule.  One of our biggest stressors is getting our kids ready and moved from this event to that.  It was great letting them sleep as long as they wanted, play with their friends all day and shower only when they seemed especially nasty.
  3. Tried something new (Accidental) - In the early part of my vacation, I was reading a book by one of my favorite writers, Don Miller, (for personal enjoyment, not necessarily for personal growth) when he mentioned bicycling through Joshua Tree National Park.  That prompted me to look the park up online.  That caused me to see all the fantastic hiking & biking trails. That lit some kind of internal desire to want to go hiking.  I've never really hiked trails before, but while I was on vacation, I did 3 different short day hikes - one alone and two with some of my sons.  Not only were those great times, but hiking has become a new hobby for me.  Once I get some money together for a bike, I'll add that part too.  And I'm a guy who's always struggled to have hobbies and enjoy life.  This was a wonderful and unexpected piece of vacation, but I'll go into future vacations looking to try something new from here on out.
  4. Saved my money (Intentional) - It's not absolutely necessary to spend thousands of dollars everytime you have vacation time.  We probably spent less than $300 outside of normal living expenses.  I doubt anyone will call that anything but a win.
  5. Did something meaningful (Intentional and Accidental) - The only two things we scheduled in our 18 days off were a day trip to Oklahoma City to the National Memorial and a day to Safari Joe's H20 here in Tulsa.  Safari Joe's was really fun and we built some good memories, but it's what you'd expect - waterslides, wave pool, lazy river, and snowcones. It was great.  But, the experience of going through the interactive museum at the OKC National Memorial was much more than we expected or were prepared for.  It's one thing to see daily news stories about a bomb exploding and some people being killed someplace far off.  It's quite another to sit in a mock-conference room and hear a real-time audio recording of the explosion that destroyed the Murrah Building that day in 1995.  It's quite another thing to see the twisted steel and shattered concrete on display right in front of you.  My youngest son was so emotionally affected by it, he felt like he was going to pass out and had to sit down for a bit.  That doesn't bother me. I want my boys to feel the weight of something like that.  I believe it is healthy and it was a very meaningful experience for our family.  Certainly, it's something we'll never forget.
I hope some of these thoughts can inspire you to have great vacations that are not just exhausting entertainment, but truly meaningful and restful intermissions from day-to-day life. What have been some especially positive pieces of vacations for you?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why Did You Come Here?

I was leaving the gym one day and I saw this shirt. "I didn't come here to lose". What really caught my eye was not so much the shirt, but the combination of the shirt and the man wearing it. This guy must have been 80 years old (at least) and may have weighed in at a stout 120lbs. Not exactly the physical specimen we imagine dominating sports. Not exactly the kind of guy you would expect to "not come here to lose".

But, here's the thing.  Whatever we do is won or lost in the mind long before we take the field, have the meeting, try and spread the message or just punch the clock.

Why did you come here? Whatever you're doing, have you come to just exist (which is to lose, by the way) or did you come to win? Whether you're 80 years old, in the prime of your physical life or somewhere in between, please don't come to lose. Come to win!

Colossians 3:23 - Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. - NLT

Friday, July 1, 2016

Please Don't Mistake Ideas For Action

I'm a documentary junkie.  I can watch a documentary on almost anything and enjoy it.  Last month, I watched a great series that documented major events in the 1960's and 1970's.  One episode chronicled the Civil Rights struggle in the 60's.  Most of it centered around Dr. Marin Luther King Jr and the incredible effectiveness he and his movement had in mobilizing people for their cause.  In more than a few cases, a march that began with 40 people in one city would end with 10,000 at its end, a couple cities down the line.  The amount of action taken to push that idea of civil rights to fruition was amazing. As I watched, I had two thoughts.  They were consecutive, but came so close, they almost felt simultaneous.

  • Thought #1: "If that movement was happening today, it would explode 10-fold due to the connectivity social media gives us." 
  • Thought #2: "No, it would probably get an explosion of chatter on social media that would have very little action attached to it.  In today's culture, it would be likely to fail."

And that's the problem.  In a culture where we can like and share and copy and paste ideas, even to the point that they go viral (whatever that means), we begin to believe we've actually done something.  But, in reality, we've done nothing.  Nolan Bushnell, found of both ATARI and Chuck E. Cheeses's, said it best when he said, "Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea.  It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference."

I'm a big fan of connectivity and social media.  It's extremely likely that you're reading this because you were lead here via social media. What I'm not a fan of is our tendency to mistake ideas for action.  On one hand, because of our high level of connectivity, it's never been easier for you to take your dream and make it a reality.  On the other hand, because of our high level of connectivity, it's never been easier for you to take your dream and feel like you're making it a reality . . . but all you're doing is talking about it.

I've been guilty of this.  For four years, I've been saying I'm going to write a book and start a coaching business.  Four years is a long time to think and talk about an idea with no real action.  Late last year, I got serious and set some goals. Six months later, my book manuscript is more than 50% written, my coaching website is more than 50% built, I've got a Life-Plan retreat for men scheduled and open for registration later this year, and I'm pursuing ongoing coaching-training down three distinct avenues.  What changed?  Ideas became plans.  Plans became action. It's a series of simple, step-by-step decisions.  

So, my hope for you is simple.  I hope you won't mistake ideas for action.  I do hope you have big ideas. But even more than that, I hope you take your ideas and make them a reality.  Think of it this way.  There are people in this world who need you to share who you are with them.  Maybe it's time to build some action plans for those ideas.  If you need someone to help you on that journey, send me a quick email and let me know. Nothing would make me happier than to help you find your future and help you make your dreams a reality.

By the way, Seth Godin wrote a brilliant little post about what he calls the "Saying/Doing Gap".  Take 60 seconds and read it.  It will be worth your time.