Ever since I was a kid I’ve occasionally had a kind of recurring fantasy: leaving everything and everyone I know behind and either surviving in the wilderness or moving somewhere far away and completely different.
Often that fantasy is preceded by recognizing some kind of lack in myself or something I want to improve. I like the idea of being able to go work on myself alone for a while. In fact anyone who’s ever gone on a retreat to figure out a problem or find a spiritual solution probably knows exactly what I’m talking about.
In “Imagine: How Creativity Works” there are a few examples of how changing your scenery or situation can spark a moment of ingenuity that enables you to overcome an obstacle or even just get your creative juices flowing. The idea is that if you remove yourself from your day-to-day situation you (at least temporarily) break free from the preconceptions and assumptions you have made about yourself, or that others have made and you’ve chosen to believe.
The problem is that eventually you have to come back to “the real world” and get back to whatever life you live. Hopefully you can start integrating some of the things you’ve realized or learned, though that’s certainly not always the case. There are a few great teachers out there trying to help people bridge the gap between these amazing realizations and how you apply them in day to day life, but it’s still a difficult journey.
One of the challenges I find myself faced with a lot is an inability to recognize and appreciate my successes. I mean, I know they happened, but I find myself already focusing on the next challenge without taking a moment to appreciate overcoming the last one.
Sometimes it seems like before I’ve even reached the summit of one mountain I’m planning the ascent of another.
Problem is, always focusing on the next thing may keep you occupied but it doesn’t necessarily keep you happy.
It’s kind of like Ferris Bueller says: “Life happens fast. If you don’t slow down and look around once in a while you might just miss it.”
Taking the time to appreciate our successes is one of those things that can easily seem useless but is VITAL to our happiness. Like a parent taking some time for themselves or a couple taking the time to go on an actual date after they’ve been together for a while.
It feels unnecessary and frivolous, but in reality it gives us a chance to recharge and refocus.
Think of an athlete or anyone at the gym. You can’t just keep working out all day every day because your muscles need a chance to recover – to get ready for the next round.
In “Startup Life” Brad Feld and his wife Amy talk about the importance of taking an unplugged vacation together on a regular basis.