Last week I went whale watching.
The week before that, I took the train to LA, rode a scooter through downtown, and read a book atop the 70th floor of a high-rise hotel. The week before that I climbed to a (dried up) waterfall. Before that, I hiked to a sea cave only accessible at low tide. And the week before that I went kayaking.
These activities are all part of my goal: go on a full-day adventure once a week. Often I do it on a Wednesday or Thursday so as to break up my routine. Plus, everything’s a lot less crowded. Then while my daughter naps on the weekends, I catch up on the work I missed during my time away.
I’m going on week ten now. It’s a lot of fun.
The background to adventure
I was feeling exhausted. And none of my usual fixes were doing it for me. When I had felt burnt out in the past, I would take the day off and strictly veg. I’m talking donuts, I’m talking pancakes, and you better believe I’m talking ice cream. And that would all take place before noon. A restless nap would then follow. Self-loathing would come after. And that would be my day.
I would return to my business the next morning reenergized and slightly hungover from all the sugar.
But somewhere along the way that “self-care” routine stopped working for me.
I remember going to a local shop, ordering a handful of donuts, then driving home with a scowl on my face. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, but a rain cloud hung over my head. The condensation made the donuts mushy.
Sugar’s not being sweet
I wondered why this mental break was no longer working for me. After much introspection, I realized it was because the novelty had worn off. What I really wanted was adventure, not sugar. Sugar was simply easier to come by then, let’s say, a flight to somewhere new. It was cheaper, more accessible, and lit up my brain in the same way.
But I was beginning to realize it was also a lie.
Sugar was just a placeholder, a quick hit of pleasure to my brain. What I truly wanted was adventure. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize it sooner.
I have a doc I regularly update. It’s called my Fulfilled Life doc. On it, I have every aspect of who I am listed out. Corey as a homeowner, as a friend, as an athlete, as a spouse, and more. Within each of those categories, I’ve noted what fulfillment looks like for me. For instance, as a homeowner, it’s, “A place that [my wife, daughter, and I] can return to after our many travels and feel happy, safe, and loved.” For my mental health, it’s simply, “Calmness, peace, clarity.”
I know who I am, I know what fulfillment looks like to me. Knowing those two things, I then set goals for each of those areas. That way I’m actively working towards a fulfilling, meaningful life.
As I sat on the couch, stuffing myself with delicious donuts that were making me miserable, it dawned on me. There was part of myself that wasn’t being addressed. Part of me that I was covering up with sugar.
It was adventure.
In the past, I traveled often so that category normally took care of itself. All that changed during COVID-times, but I never addressed it. Since part of me was going unattended, I began to feel burnt out. I took more days off. I ate more donuts. Then I decided to make a change. I set a new goal: go on a full-day adventure each week. I set rules for myself like:
- Explore something new: somewhere I haven’t been, something I haven’t done, or a new spin on something existing.
- Take one day off work for this. Ideally, Wednesday or Thursday to break up the week.
- Be gone for at least six hours.
- Be home by five.
- Spend my daughter’s naps on Saturday and Sunday catching up on work I missed during the adventure.
The spice I needed
Since I implemented this goal, my weeks have become a lot more varied. They’ve become more fun. And they’ve lit up that adventurer-side of me. I get the same amount of work done each week, but I no longer feel burnt out.
In fact, I believe they’ve made my work better.
The articles I publish the day before I go on an adventure or leave for a big trip seem to do the best. They tend to get more views. People seem to resonate with them more. Articles I publish after five days in a row, however, tend to be more hit-and-miss. My theory is that my mood shows in the writing. When I’m slogging through the week, my article reads like a slog. When I’m excited for the next day’s event, the article reads with excitement.
It goes to show something we all know but somehow still manage to forget: it’s good to take breaks. It’s even better to take breaks that resonate with you.
Move forward with adventure… or, at least, intention
You don’t have to do an adventure day. You don’t have to take a break during the week if you don’t want to. But what I do suggest is taking a look at your life. Consider if any one area isn’t being addressed. Then, create a goal to address it.
Doing so will fill you with meaning, give you something to look forward to, and add some spice to your week.
When I did this activity, I realized I needed adventure. For you, it could be education. Maybe you love reading but haven’t picked up a book in months. Well, instead of going out to lunch with friends each day, you could set aside one lunch a week and read the entire time. It doesn’t have to be all day if you don’t want it to be.
It just has to be right for you.
*Note: It’s hard to schedule an adventure. It’s even harder to schedule one to take place within only an hour or two. It’s for that reason that I constructed the rules how I did. And it’s been working. Oh and by the way, if you decide to set an adventure goal for yourself, please be careful!