Have you ever noticed upon your return from a road trip or any other type of travel that you notice new things about your home? Suddenly, it smells different to you, or you notice a piece of art that’s been hanging on the wall forever, or certain sounds of your neighborhood seem either louder or quieter. What is this?
We’ve evolved as a species partially due to our ability to screen out everything that isn’t new – a way of detecting a predator entering our environment or some other new danger to ourselves. What’s already around us has been established as being safe in our minds, so we stop seeing it. Hence, you stop seeing the decorations in your house, the weedy patch in your back yard that once upon a time was a project you were meaning to tackle or the clutter of your study or computer nook. You get used to smoking or overeating. The dailyness of your life ends up screening out things that matter.
The power of coming home from a road trip is that you get the benefit of this heightened sense of perception. Studies have confirmed that new habits are best started in a new environment (new job, new house, etc.), but your home has become new again after your road trip and it’s an amazing opportunity for personal growth.
Harnessing the Power of Coming Home
Make your return from your road trip a chance to tackle those projects you’ve been meaning to get to. Your new-and-improved perception will highlight all the things that were once goals or projects before they ended up on a permanent back-burner. Jump on them now while they’re still highly visible to you.
Recently, I returned from a road trip to suddenly see a project that ended up on that deadly back-burner for me: art on our apartment walls – or the lack of it. Walking in the door lugging stuff from our car, I looked around and the sterility of our apartment leaped out at me. Where’s the personality? Where’s the flair? Oh, right – I meant to get to that…
The busyness of your life will intrude as quickly as it can, so it’s important to start right away. What should you do?
- Stop everything, grab a pad and write at least 10 ways or steps you can take to conquer at least a piece of your project or goal (preferably the whole goal/project). That’s right, leave everything in the car, and worry about the plants that need watering or the messages on your voicemail later. Don’t wait and don’t let the everydayness grab you and hold you, hostage, before you write these 10 things down.
- Finish unpacking and go about the rest of your day. You’re probably tired and those plants/children/messages/piles of mail/etc. do need attention. Make a priority of getting a good night’s sleep as you’ll need it for the next step.
- The first thing the next morning, as soon as you roll out of bed, go sit down with that list of 10 things. Why not wait and get a cup of coffee? What about reading the paper? Nope! Do not do these things or they will suck you in, I can promise you. If you give in to those every-morning-must-dos first, you’ll never get this goal or project off of the ground. It ended up on a back-burner once, and it will again if you don’t attack it now. Okay, look at the list. If the list is a list of ways to attack your goal, pick one way – the one most likely to work in your eyes. Now, set up a list of ten steps you’ll need to take using that method of attaining your goal. If you wrote down a number of steps you could take to achieve your goal, put them in a logical order. If one of the steps seems overwhelming, break it down into smaller steps until each step seems manageable.
- Schedule all the steps so that you take one step every day starting today until you’ve taken every step on your list. Starting today is an absolute must. If the step seems like too much to do, break it down again. You must take action today and every day to achieve your goal. If you procrastinate for even one day, you’ll lose all your momentum and once again, you’re just idly wishing and dreaming rather than dynamically acting to make your project or goal a reality.
- Schedule one last step before you get up and get that cup of coffee. The last step is your celebration step. Figure out how you’d like to celebrate your achievement. Make sure it’s a way that directly reflects on your goal. If your garden needed tending and your goal is to get it cleaned up – you could celebrate with a garden cocktail party. If your study needed organizing, you could celebrate by buying something for your study that you’ve always wanted – whether it’s a new computer monitor or a beautiful aquarium that you’ve always wanted there to create a soothing environment. The possibilities are endless. This celebration should be scheduled within a week of completion of your goal/project at the latest or you won’t be able to truly revel in the thrill of achievement – some of your buzzes will have worn off.
Your road trip has just opened doors for you – doors you’ll only need to start to take a step, and then another, in order to walk through. This applies to new habits (starting a workout program or quitting smoking will be easier now, too), projects like decorating or organizing or finishing that woodworking project, and vital goals like making a decision about your career or spending more time focusing on your family. The effect of your road trip or any travel can have on your life is tremendous – the power of coming home is immense if only you tap into it.