solo trips: the importance of being a hermit…

 

 

I’m crazy busy these days between my teaching contract ending; my part-time editing and content management gig with Anna Wickham, my amazing boss and friend; and I’ve been working on a startup project with a business partner I made in Bali in November. I don’t have time to mess around these days…

It was clear to me at the end of last year that I needed to do something to get myself on track and well-organized for the year ahead. I knew I’d be working a lot and wouldn’t make enough time to push myself to have some legit “me” time.

But I knew it was going to be important for me to exercise some of my hermit tendencies more than ever. So I decided to do my best to find ways to get my shit together and make it happen.

Making It Happen

I’ve gotten better at being by myself over the years. The first time I remember taking a “solo trip” – going somewhere “fun” all alone – was when I was 21. I had a season pass to a local theme park in Branson, Missouri called Silver Dollar City and that day, I was sad.

I’d been recovering from a complicated pit stop in my relationship journey. (We’re still together and it’s complicated and there have been a lot of pit stops… but those stories are for another day.) I decided that since SDC usually made me happy, I would drive the 40 minutes from Springfield by myself and spend the day perusing the shops and eating whatever I wanted.

That day at the park, I bought a Very Bradley bag and a flowery top. I ate like shit and people-watched. It was awesome.

That day was an important one. Even though I wouldn’t do anything like that again for a few years, it was still monumental.

Taking the Leap into Solo Adventures

Since then, I’ve traveled to South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia on my own. Every time I go somewhere new, I learn something new.

This year, I don’t have enough time or money to make a ton of solo international trips. (Though I’ve got a few on the books, I won’t be alone.) I’m finally moving back to the US for the first time in 4 years and I’m not sure how long I’ll stay.

But I made an important decision for this year: I will consciously make some kind of solo trip once a month.

It’s going to be tough and I’ll be honest – I wasn’t able to make it happen in February. I plan to make up for that later somehow before June. But I took my first little trip a few weeks ago and it changed my perspective and solidified how important this is going to be for me.

Solo Trip Ground Rules

My first solo weekend of the year was actually over the first weekend of the year. It couldn’t have been clearer that it was an invaluable and wise decision.

I wrote down some ground rules so that I knew what this and future solo weekends were for:

  • I would work on only personal projects (startup company stuff, writing, etc.) and not on anything I am actively being paid for (actual work for my multiple jobs).
  • I would watch whatever I felt like watching on Netflix or iTunes and feel no shame.
  • I would eat whatever I wanted for the weekend and think nothing of it. Ice cream for dinner is totally acceptable.
  • I would not feel guilty for holing up in my hotel room and not leaving.

I felt like these were pretty good rules. I’ll admit that on my first attempt at a successful solo weekend, I failed on the first rule. I did about 3 hours of work because I had not planned well and had some things that needed to be done and therefore, they seeped into my trip. But on every other point, I was solid.

The Art of Solo Weekending

There were also a few things I did that helped me immensely. Because you see, it’s not enough to have a solo weekend in your own house… It’s not enough to promise yourself that you’re not going to do “real” work no matter what.

If you want to have a true weekend to yourself to find your center, get your priorities in line, and actually set out what you have in your mind to do, you have to make a game plan.

I wanted to get a few things out of the weekend. I wanted to feel like I was getting a “good start” on the new year. I wanted to have some much needed time to relax and not feel guilty about being completely lazy. I wanted to not think about work.

So here’s what I did to accomplish those things:I went to a neighboring town to get out of my house and I stayed in a hotel.

1. I went to a neighboring town to get out of my house and I stayed in a hotel.

2. I shut off my work email notifications on my phone so I wouldn’t be tempted to look at anything (that is, once I’d finished those few hours of work I put in).

3. I took a nap on Sunday afternoon that started late and ended after dark. It was worth it.

4. I made a list of things that I had deemed “okay to work on” while I was on my solo trip.

5. I sent some thoughtful text messages to people I really love and appreciate that I don’t speak to often enough.

6. I didn’t force myself to do anything I had put on the aforementioned list. If I didn’t feel like doing them, I simply didn’t do them. And I didn’t allow myself to feel guilty for not doing them.

7. I let go of my anger and annoyances about “work stuff” that had been bothering me the week (and weeks) before.

This list proved to be the most important part of the trip itself. I wasn’t going to feel guilty about anything. I was going to focus on myself and share some of my good weekend vibes with people I love.

It was an awesome weekend.

Planning Your Solo Weekend

I realize that it’s not feasible for everyone to have solo weekends every month. It may not even be feasible to leave your city for somewhere else (even within driving distance) or to pay for a hotel room. That shit can get expensive if you’re on a tight budget.

But I can’t stress enough the good it will do to be alone. Even if you’re afraid of being alone, having some time to yourself to do what you want and to empty your mind is invaluable.

But you have to be intentional. You have to make a plan and write it down or book your travel. You have to physically do it or it won’t happen.

So here’s my challenge to you, Reader: go plan your own solo weekend for this spring. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even have to be out of town. If you can’t make it work due to financial reasons, talk with a friend and agree to swap living spaces for a single weekend so you can both take advantage of being alone and away from the distractions of your own home.

Find a way to make it work – whatever it takes. And then report back. I’ll be waiting. :)

 

What was your first solo weekend experience like? Are you planning one now? 

Share in the comments!

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