119: Life-Changing Trips


Welcome friends to Episode #119 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. Big things can happen when you go away. When you plan a trip, you want to be able to make the most of it. If you’ve ever gone away and come back with a fresh perspective, new relationships or decisions made – you know the power of a trip. It can change your life. Today’s podcast is on what makes a trip life-changing and how to create experiences that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Why they are important

So much of our lives are created by the decisions we make, yet we are often running so fast in our lives doing the things we HAVE to do, that we don’t stop and think about what we would do if we didn’t HAVE to do all these things. What if you didn’t have to do the work the way you’re doing it today? What if you didn’t have the routines you had? What would you do and why?

Our time is precious. We want to make the most of it. Trips give us an opportunity to think about how we want to spend our time. We’ve also seen that without time to restore and recharge, we burn out. Think about the vacations you’ve taken where you’ve worked the whole time or have been distracted thinking about work. It’s not that you didn’t experience any benefits from that trip, but you know that you didn’t come back ready to go and energized. You likely came back exhausted and feeling like it’s not a good idea for you to go away.

I’ve gone back through time thinking about the life-changing experiences I’ve had on trips and retreats I’ve led and realized that there are differences between trips I’ve taken where I didn’t come away with a different perspective or a life-changing experience, and ones where I did. 

The first life-changing experience I had was when I traveled to the Caribbean on a cruise with my family. I know it sounds like an unlikely place to have a life-changing experience, but the reason it was important to me was because it was the first time I became excited about a trip before I went on it. I read about the islands, I looked at brochures, I did all of those things that give you ideas of what’s possible. I dreamt about the beaches and living on a boat and how new all of these experiences were for me. It cemented my love of travel and finding joy in discovering new things. 

Set an intention and align activities with that intention

Trips can often be a place where we just go on autopilot and do all the things everyone else does when they go to these places. Take the tours, sit on the beach, eat at a restaurant and see the sights. There’s nothing wrong with that but without an intention for why you want to do these things, you’ll often leave without feeling like you were really present. You’ll see lots but not experience them deeply.

Similar to the Caribbean trip, it doesn’t have to be that you do something highly unusual or unique, but what do you want to experience? I knew for a fact that I wanted to experience the exact thing I was going to experience – being on a boat and trying lots of different activities and going to new places I have never been. When we can align our intentions with the likelihood of experiencing that on a trip, it is a recipe for success. If you have an intention to connect with your high school friends and you’re on a trip with your family, that’s not a recipe for success. If you’re looking to disconnect and you’re going on a trip where you haven’t made any time to be in nature or to be by yourself, you’ll have a hard time achieving that goal.

I’ve also had life-changing business trips where I’ve set an intention to make decisions in my business or career. Decisions that involved how I want to transition into new identities like motherhood or leadership. Decisions that involve where I want to focus my time and energy over the next 6 months or year. Decisions around what I want to create, how do I want to pivot and what I want to embody.

If you’re at a loss for intentions, I will give you a few that you can try:

  • Making a decision about your life or work that you’ve been pondering
  • Living your life the way as your future/highest self
  • Connecting with a partner, family members or friends
  • Trying a new activity or hobby
  • Learning a new skill
  • Finding joy in small things
  • Living in nature
  • Meditating more deeply or consistently
  • Deeping your intuitive abilities
  • Eating healthy or adding certain foods
  • Creating a new routine
  • Learning about yourself – what frustrates you?
  • Being around people who can help you develop and grow
  • Being more present

Create the conditions for the unexpected to occur

One of the biggest challenges is that if we have so many expectations of our trip, we will inevitably be let down. Yet, if we’ve poured money, time or resources into a trip, we want it to be fruitful. This is why setting an intention matters. Your intention guides you to see life through the viewpoint of what it is you are trying to learn or experience. 

It allows you to release control of what exactly has to happen in order for you to experience it, and allows room for what will truly change your life – the ah-ha moments. Those don’t come when you’re forcing yourself to try to enjoy, connect or experience. They come when you create the conditions that allow you to experience the unexpected. 

What’s going to make it inevitable that you achieve your intention? That’s what you want to focus your attention on. For example, if I’m looking to deepen my relationship with someone on a trip, what would make it inevitable is for me to spend time with them. For me to not judge them and to not judge myself. To let each other be and connect from a place of understanding. Maybe you just plan activities where you spend time with each other. These are examples. 

Same thing goes for learning a new skill. Perhaps you sign up for a course, training or retreat that allows you to experience something new in a structured way. 

Pick a few structured things, but then allow the rest to unfold the way life will allow it to unfold. Allow the unpredictability to be what creates the learning, growth or depth of experience. It’s often when we fail or something doesn’t go our way that we learn most about ourselves or other people. I remember the times when we got caught in a storm, or someone was sick or things didn’t go the way we planned – more so than the things that went exactly as planned. If you allow room for the unexpected, then you will also be creating space for new ideas and experiences to occur.

A reminder that if you wanted a highly predictable and boring trip, you likely wouldn’t be learning about how to take life-changing trips.

Ask yourself what you’ve learned

After the trip, it also helps to start thinking about what you didn’t do and did differently. It helps for you to think about what you’ve learned. Our brain tends to like to move onto the next thing and the next trip or the work you have to do when you return so we have to purposefully pause and ask ourselves what happened.

Perhaps you do this on your flight home. Perhaps you do this the day after you get back. You might even be journaling as you are on your trip. It’s never too late to capture your insights and your growth. When you start to see that the intentions you’ve set for yourself are realized or how they shifted for you on the trip, you begin to craft your own formula for life-changing trips. What’s your recipe? What would you do differently next time? What did you love about your trip?

All of these experiences are so rich if we only stop to mine them for growth. We often think we don’t know the answers or we’re not sure what happened when that’s not true. We just haven’t paused to ask ourselves why we went on this trip. Why was this journey important for us to take? Why did we travel? Who are we when we travel with other people or when we are by ourselves? What did it feel like to be more present?

How to truly enjoy yourself

Many of our trips can be bucket list activities or experiences. They are the things we’ve dreamed of doing for a long time and we’re finally doing it. Revel in the fact that something you’ve desired or dreamt about is occurring. Slow things down and say to yourself, “i’m doing it” and instead of thinking about it, just be in the experience. Use your senses, notice what it feels like to be in an experience right here and right now.

You might have thoughts like, “I should be working” or “it’s not safe to have this much fun” or “this is too self-indulgent.” It’s natural if you’ve thought of life as a series of to-do’s that enjoying oneself is considered indulgent and inappropriate. Yet, enjoyment doesn’t have to be because of any real reason. You can enjoy breathing. You can enjoy listening to someone speak. You can enjoy feeling the sun on your face. You can enjoy eating mindfully. You can even enjoy working.

Notice if you believe time away is a guilty pleasure that has no benefits for anyone or takes you away from what you need to actually be doing in your life. Yet, the one thing you need in order to be better at life is likely to get your mind, body and soul aligned. Organizing your brain so that it remembers what’s most important comes from taking a moment to pause and reflect. Allowing your body to function at its best comes from taking a moment to attend to its needs. Figuring out what is good for your soul comes from noticing what feels energizing.

Burnout and overwhelm often come at the expense of our goals and dreams. If you cannot take a moment to get your mind, body and soul in order – you will take many moments to clean up the mess and unnecessary mistakes we make when we are overwhelmed and burned out.

The space that you create to change your work and life will actually create better and faster results – while having more enjoyment in the process. This is why I’m such an advocate for taking a moment in your day to pause and be still. Expand that 1000x and this is what happens when you take greater time away from your daily life and create a powerful intention, with a structure that supports that intention. Your life changes without you even having to DO as much heavy lifting as you’ve done in the past.

This is why I offer virtual and in-person retreats. I’ve seen time and time again that we need to be in a new concept or idea for a longer period of time than our daily life allows for us to truly embody that next version of us. When we feel like the clarity we seek or the thing we desire is not coming fast enough, it’s often because we haven’t paused to absorb the changes that have already transpired. We haven’t fully felt where we already are with the big changes like birth, death, new jobs/locations and responsibilities. When you haven’t felt and processed these changes, it’s as if the Universe is waiting for you to catch up before it gives you more to handle.

Trips, retreats and these kinds of intentional experiences are a portal that allows you to step into that next place you desire more effortlessly than when you are reliving the same routines and patterns of your daily life. By removing the constructs of what your current life looks like you end up having to create new experiences. 

Your choice is going to be this very important thought process. Do I want to create exactly what I’ve already experienced or do I want to let life unfold and create new ones for me?

This is it – this is the work. I love doing this with my clients and creating these epic journeys and experiences that allow them to see a new sense of purpose, wisdom and make big decisions about their lives. We will take the unclear and make them more clear, whether it’s the business decision you need to make or its being even more of a leader in your life and fully owning your best life. A life of full relationships, full careers and full experiences.

The coaching program I have designed includes access to the Spiritual Achiever retreat where you will learn how to use energy and meditation techniques to develop your own intuition. You can sign up for a coaching consultation at https://mayempson.com/contact to learn more. 

That’s it for this week. Have an amazing one and I’ll talk to you next time.

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