To celebrate turning 40, (Sept. 4, 2009), I decided to take a trip every month in that year. One spring day in May, reflecting over a cup of coffee, a realization surfaced. Four months into the year, I had been on four consecutive trips without an actual plan in place. Noting an official streak – It was imperative to keep the momentum going. With the realization, I started a list for the remaining months. Why not commit to a new investment policy for the year and invest in having fun, instead of sinking it into a poorly performing 401K? After mentioning the idea to a few close friends, they loved the concept and agreed with my new investment policy and happily helped me work towards the goal. We all have excuses, including me, but it was time for a personal reward. A milestone birthday, at any age, is the perfect catalyst to get you moving toward a new challenge. WORK, is a crappy four-letter word that gets thrown around, as an excuse for the inability to travel. There is a work-around. The more I ventured away, the more efficient I became at work, in less time. With the carrot of travel, perpetually dangling in my reach?I focused, completed tasks, and signed new business with renewed motivation, which created more time for play. My business and soul were rewarded by a new approach to work/travel balance.
With my milestone birthday as a catalyst, it was a time to assess my life and look ahead. On the cusp of 40, I compiled a stat sheet (plus this would come in handy if I wanted to start on-line dating):
Relationship Status: Single (DNK) Divorced no-kids
Sign: Virgo (I look at stars but honestly do not know what they mean)
Current Residence: A condo in Spring Lake on Michigan’s west coast
Political Affiliation: The Cocktail Party, until the other two figure it out
Education: B.A & M.A.
Income level: Enough, but not enough not to worry
Religious Views: Progressive Christian because God is too big for one religion
Employer: BYOB (Be Your Own Boss). I co-own a small business, FineLine Creative
Community: Volunteer director at a local non-profit, Michigan Irish Music Festival
Play: Retired semi-pro beach volleyball player, biker, skier, hiker, golfer and yogi
Friends: PWDS (People Who Don’t Suck) An adventurous, loosely organized group, who are my support group at life and play
Family: Mom and Dad taught me to travel at a young age
-I became Aunt LaLa to two nieces and three nephews
-Two younger siblings, Ben and Charla (bonus, we get along)
Bucket List: I am an aspiring author and plan to publish a travel book
Daily Dose: Laughter and exercise
Life Goals: I want to become a philanthropist via my publishing company
Future plans: Travel more, work less, read and write more, buy a smaller tv
- Africa: Tanzania
- Western Europe: England, France, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland
- Central America: Costa Rica
- South America: Peru
- North America: Mexico, Canada, Alaska and almost all 50 states
After reviewing my personal statistics, amassed in 40 years, I hoped a plan for the next 40 would show its gracefully aging and slightly wrinkled face. Thankfully, I was not upset at the prospect of turning 40 – it was another opportunity waiting around the bend on a trail. 50 would be the new 30. With that thought, I set off to notch a trip each month. It wasn’t easy, but creative scheduling and long weekends worked for the in-state trips. I took Friday’s off to turn a two-day weekend into a three-day and used holiday’s as buffers to create longer stints.
January: Blue Mountain Ski Resort – Collingwood, Canada
February: Aspen/Snowmass Resorts – Aspen, Colorado
March: Lake Tahoe area & Heavenly Resort – Lake Tahoe, Nevada
April: Irish Festivals Organizer Conference – Kansas City, Missouri
May: Zoo de Mack Bike – (Petoskey to Mackinac Island) Michigan
June: Multi-sport: raft, bike, hike, climb – West Virginia
July: Golf at Garland and Crystal Mtn. Resort – Michigan
August: Ben (brother) gets married – Petoskey Michigan
September: Boulder in the Fall – Boulder, CO
October: Sailing on Muskegon Lake – Muskegon, Michigan
Nov. & Dec.: Sunshine in Siesta Key – Florida
Since the year of 40 and successfully pairing wanderlust with my business responsibilities (that WORK word), I’ve continued to make getting away a priority. It’s rewarding, motivating and the experiment produced results on several levels. I felt like a travel evangelist up at the pulpit, summoning people to vacation and to do it more often. It may be unrealistic for some to travel every month, but increasing your dosage of travel is the underlying message. “Don’t let three months go by without a simple getaway,” I imagined exclaiming to friends and colleagues, holding “the good book” (a trip guide) in my hand. Vacation deprivation symptoms are easy to manage with a regimen of planning and a list of ideas of where to go next. In between planning my Q1 or Q2 sales projections and daily tasks for FineLine Creative, I carve out time to research vacation deals online or scour magazines and books for the next destination. As I discovered in research, even travel planning has the proven benefit of boosting happiness levels.
We soul-search and contemplate all sorts of notions or schemes on the verge of turning 30, 40, 50, or 60. When it comes to travel, it’s best not to wait until you are retired to try this. Climbing a mountain, for example, would be better tackled before arthritis sets in. Deferring your happiness is not a good idea. Instead, change your routine, create your own reward system and catch a glimpse into our amazing planet and its people. It’s not important where you go or how far you go, rather making the commitment to yourself. A camping trip an hour away can be just as rewarding as a trip to Paris or Belize. Create your own personal stat sheet, start a travel wish-list, jot down some ideas and go.