Recently I joined my friends from Salon Moxi for an all girl camping trip in the San Juan Islands. This is why I love them: instead of a weekend at a spa getting pampered, we all consider a good time to be taking a break from technology and getting back to basics in gorgeous natural surroundings.
I highly recommend and advocate that everyone do this at least once a year, if not more. The lessons you learn while being away from screens and getting back in tune with your primal needs are ones you can’t get any other way. Plus everything tastes better when cooked over a campfire. EVERYTHING!
It turned out to be slightly harder than we all thought because our campsite was a walk-in. This means you park your car and carry all of your gear in and out to your actual camp site. The campground’s website said it was 200 yards in. We were like, ok, no big deal, thinking it was going to be a flat walk from the looks of the map. Wrong. The 200 yards was a very steep switch back trail, with trolley carts to roll our gear down and up. Down was difficult enough, but pulling heavy loads back up was the real challenge on the last day. All 4 of us had to channel our inner workhorse to get these carts back up. We did eventually defeat those hills, each of us taking a turn, and man I’ve never felt more proud of myself and my comrades.
This challenge reminded me of one of the most valuable lessons when you strike out and work on your own:
When you are blazing your own path, there will be problems that seem insurmountable, but no one else is around to help. This means you figure out a solution and get it done.
On the way home I started noticing the parallel between the skills you use when out of your usual element and the ones you need to remember as an entrepreneur every day of your life.
I wanted to share a few of the lessons from my trip. I hope you can apply them to your daily business routines.
Plan accordingly, or you’re going to have a bad time
I can’t tell you how many camping trips I’ve taken where I forgot that ONE thing that would have made a huge difference in my overall fun and comfort. The right clothing layer, the coffee percolator, or some rope. Now I start making a list weeks before so I can add to it as I think of things. Rarely do we think of every situation that could happen all at once. Prepare items and purchase what is needed well in advance of packing, don’t save it for the night before!
The lesson for daily life: When starting a new business venture or project, make a list early and take well documented notes as you go. Use a task list app like Asana and add detailed notes in the comments about what you are thinking about that very second. It could be hard to recall later! Save ideas and compile them in Evernote to recall later when it’s time to execute your plan.
When out of your routine, you are forced to use your problem solving skills and improvise
We can’t account for and be prepared for everything, that’s life after all! My favorite part about setting up shelter and cooking on an open fire is the improvisation that is inevitable when you are out in the elements and away from home. There will always be something you didn’t think about because we are usually in houses supplied with innumerable tools and gadgets to help us out. Don’t have tongs to turn the food on the grill? Use sticks! Don’t have a heat-safe bowl to cook vegetables in over the fire? Make one out of foil! Forgot your pillow? Roll up extra clothes and stuff them into a T-shirt.
The lesson for daily life: This is probably the lesson we need most for the everyday as entrepreneurs because you never know what will be thrown at you to deal with. Heck, it’s the defining factor that makes us strike out on our own in the first place. Practice keeping a calm head and just looking around for the most logical alternative solution when the next challenge arises. It could be something you never thought of before.
Sometimes there is just nothing to do, and that’s a beautiful thing
This is a foundation lesson in zen practice, the art of doing nothing. One suggestion is to take an entire day to do absolutely nothing and be mindful about every little thing you do. When you brush your teeth, brush your teeth. When you eat your food, eat your food, and so on. Having nothing to do forces us to be present and helps our minds slow down to a natural pace. Leo Babauta elaborates on this concept beautifully. When away from screens and an endless to-do list, this gives you ample opportunity to have even an hour of time when you are just sitting in the forest or the beach. Just….sitting.
The lesson for daily life: Remember to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day, go for a quiet walk, or simply stare out the window and let your mind wander. Take entire afternoons, especially when your mind is full, and just sit and read or think. Clearing up this mental space is essential to doing great work later and not burning out.
Oh, and be sure to watch the Fire Show at night, it’s riveting! Nothing like that on TV!
I hope you found these observations helpful and can incorporate them into your daily routines! Are there any lessons you’ve learned from getting away from your routine that helped you be a better entrepreneur? Leave a comment and tell me about it!
campfire photo credit: meghla_akashe_pori_:)