A few days ago, I returned home from a much needed vacation in Germany. International travel is a passion of mine, and I had let four years pass since my last trip to Ireland. It was time to get away. Fifteen days of travel through Cologne, Heidelberg, Nuremberg, Berlin and Dusseldorf, living from a small suitcase and a backpack. It was heaven.
I had fallen into a serious rut, but I kept making silent excuses for doing nothing about it. Thank goodness for that moment of inspiration a few months ago when I said to my brother, “What do you think about traveling to Germany for the holidays?” He’d been to visit me in Atlanta the last two years, and though I could have journeyed to his California turf, I felt I needed to do something much bigger for myself. He was game and off we went.
As I lived life without a car, hung out with my bro, enjoyed the Christmas markets, ate great food, enjoyed the beer and wine, marveled at the castles and dreamed of what life must have been like for the royals who had built them, the boredom and stagnant energy I’d been feeling dissipated into thin air. I was unplugged, present and happy. Obligated to nothing and no one. Freedom in every sense of the word.
As 2013 winds down, I’m thinking about what lies ahead in the coming year. The causes I want to champion, the contributions I’d like to make, the life I plan to live. I don’t make “resolutions”, but I am making a commitment to myself to do things differently. My new mantra can be summed up with this one simple phrase…go big or go home.
My plan is to play a bigger game, and here are 5 ways that I intend to do it.
1. Surround myself with different people. As it relates to business, I like what Chris Brogan said about this one…”If the people you surround yourself with are in the same game as you, how will you play bigger?” On the personal front, I’m just not wasting time with people who do not inspire, motivate or energize me. Conversely, people shouldn’t want to hang with me if I’m not doing the same for them!
2. Stop censoring myself, don’t let others try to censor me and say what I want to say. I wrote a few blog posts this year that stirred up some controversy. I plan to do more of that going forward. Not because my goal is to create a shit storm to get attention, but because I feel strongly that there are some injustices that will never be righted if no one has the courage to say anything.
3. Take more risks. Geezoo, at this point in my life, what have I got to lose? Playing safe equals boring. I don’t want to be boring or get to the end of my life and have a mountain of regret staring me in the face.
4. Filter out the noise. Tune out the chatter from people who don’t matter. Surprising how many folks show up unannounced with opinions about what others should or should not do. I’m tuning them out. They don’t matter. Pretty much as simple as that.
5. Say no more often. When it comes to saying no, I’m definitely a work in progress. It is in my DNA to want to help people. The problem is that if I’m always helping everybody else, there is no time left for me. Playing bigger means it is OK to put me first!
Traveling Germany woke me up from what can only be described as a walking coma. That’s why it is so important to take vacation, make time to completely check out and get away. It gives you new perspective and provides a strong reminder that going through the motions of daily life isn’t actually living.