For most of us road warriors, we’ve been shut down from the road. Nobody could’ve ever predicted it would last this long and with still so much uncertainty.
I was recently talking to some friends and they asked me when the last time was that I had this long of a break from the road. I was trying to remember the longest stretch and I kept going back year after year, job after job, then decade after decade.
I thought for sure back in March when the health pandemic intensified that I would be traveling by this summer and definitely having a family vacation where we load my basketball team of kids and wife on a plane to go somewhere, but even that was canceled.
It’s the first time ever we’ve not been on a plane going somewhere over the summer.
I wasn’t planning on traveling until this fall when all of a sudden an opportunity came up.
A team that I work with on a regular basis was getting together for some training and invited me. I was like a kid getting passed a note in school that asked me to check yes if you like me.
Where’s my Sharpie man? Hand it to me, quick! Not a second to spare. Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!
I couldn’t wait to look at flight options. My heart was racing just looking at hotels.
Now, to someone who is NOT a road warrior, they would instantly think something is wrong with me. And although many could argue that point in numerous ways, they would be talking about the rush a road warrior gets regarding Road Life.
But I cannot remember the last time I was so excited to just look at flights and hotels. It was this “quick hit” I’ve been without for some time.
I was so excited to go back and just “do my thing” even if it was a “one-off”. I was even looking forward to experiencing “the new norm of travel” right now even if it was going to be different, even frustrating.
I had a dream that night of being on the plane, picking out my cool rental car, sleeping in a hotel. A night of bliss.
Then it happened.
The company that hired me to do the training (not where I was going) had a change of heart on boarding a plane and entering this state with the recent spike.
Normally, I would be a little frustrated, more with having to cancel and reschedule. You know the drill when a trip’s plan changes.
Then I would feel mixed emotions with relief and excitement I didn’t have to go on a trip and would begin to think about what I would do with this “time off” and enjoy being home.
A rare break from the road in days of old. But I was seriously bummed out by the news.
It wasn’t a matter of disagreeing with the decision, but the reality this trip was not going to happen nor any other ones any time soon.
It was like the note sent to me in school from the cute girl that asked if I liked her only to find out they were actually asking me to pass the note to someone else. It wasn’t meant for me.
I moped around the house like my dog died, or the Bears lost their one playoff appearance in a decade. Sorry, I just went to a dark place. Joking aside, the reality is that only a road warrior can relate to what I’m talking about.
We’re in a very strange period right now with really strong feelings whether we recognize them or not.
I’ve talked to countless business travelers and the series of questions and comments goes like this:
- Do you know when you’re going to be allowed to travel again?
- How are you doing your job without traveling?
- Will they make you travel any less when you finally go back?
- What are you missing about the road?
With some people, the questions get a little more personal and revealing.
These questions and comments have led me to some of my own.
After listening to the common business traveler questions, I really thought about some questions that I’ve been struggling with and would be revealing of me and I found five specific ones that kept coming to the surface:
Why was I so disappointed I couldn’t go on this recent trip?
I miss Road Life. It’s the mistress my wife openly knows about.
I like the adventure of going to new places, meeting new people, trying new foods, attending sporting events.
When I’m home I rarely go anywhere because I’m almost always on the road. I know everyone here and been everywhere here.
I was also disappointed I couldn’t go because it would’ve given me a taste of my old life as a road warrior. I’ve wanted it back since after a few weeks of road vacation but now I’m more than ready.
It would’ve given me hope we’re going to get back to business as usual, business travel that is…
This whole experience was very revealing to me and especially my wife.
What have I discovered about myself these 1st four months of not traveling?
Between us girls, as someone who tries to live the six energy habits no matter where I am, I had a better road routine long-term than I did a home routine.
I also had a different home routine.
When I’m home during normal business travel, it’s not for very long and the dynamics are different because I’ve been gone.
During the school year, I have the house to myself with the kids at school along with my wife as a school teacher.
But the 1st three months everyone that looked and acted like me that bore my name was home. All. The. Time.
I’m also working too much. It’s too easy to pick up my MacBook Pro or iPad Pro and just start working even in the evening or over the weekend. I’ve never done that before at home.
And for more honesty, I’ve not done well with a monotonous routine. I thrive on variety and control of which both have been stripped of me quickly and for many months. And this has revealed some definite and needed areas of growth in me.
What draws me to the road?
As I mentioned earlier, I love the variety – different places, different people, a different schedule, and of course different food. But it’s bigger than just the variety. I’m drawn to the ability to make my own decisions on the road at any time.
I thrive on and maximize my alone time to work out, read, write, and recharge from downtime (time to be, not to be on). I can really maximize many of the six energy habits by being alone: Move, Fuel, Rest, Develop and Connect.
I also love the challenge – often, it’s just me and what happens from the moment I leave my home to the moment I return, every detail of the trip including the results is on me.
I love the challenge of connecting with new people and making a positive lasting impression so much that they can’t wait for me to come back and are happy to see me when I do. It also changes the dynamic of the follow-up moving forward from calls to emails.
Bring on the pressure!
And to some, this would be just too much. Not a road warrior. And definitely not an elite road warrior. To know what draws you to the road, good or bad, is healthy to know.
What if I can’t travel until September or even January?
Not going on this trip has jolted me into this reality. And I don’t like it but the words to the serenity prayer are applicable here: “Help me accept the things I cannot change…”
I’ve also talked to many business travelers who are being told either September or even January depending on the size or nature of their business.
To be honest, it was a blow to hear of a September or even January travel restart. I’m not gonna lie or sugarcoat my feelings.
But it is what it is and I have to accept that I still have at least two more months of home life at the time of this recording with my only travel in an all-too-common sleep dream of being on a plane or at a hotel.
I can’t be the ONLY one having them, right? I see that hand.
I also have to accept that the restart may not be exactly when or the way I want it to be or have envisioned. Imagine that.
But at this point, I’m ready for a new challenge.
This leads to the fifth and final question…
What do I need to change? (Start/Stop/Do More /Do Less)
I don’t want to answer this question but I need to answer this question and I suggest you do too.
Initially, I was in survival mode. Everything was so new with immediate cancelations and no travel. I was in shock. I was headed into one of my two busiest travel stretches of the year.
Then it was trying to figure out how to co-exist with everyone always home along with doing my travel role solely from home.
But now that we’re four plus months into not traveling, I’ve strongly established my New Normal so it’s time to evaluate and see what I need to change…
I’m going to use the START/STOP/DO MORE/DO LESS method and give you two of each:
- Working out consistently again – when all the gyms closed, it was a hit on me because that was my rhythm when I was home. I tinkered with working out at home but I was inconsistent due to working too much. I was also exhausted from “Zoom Fatigue.” (Who knew that would be a thing?!) Now that the gyms are open again, I can start this activity big time
- Journaling again – I’ve fallen out of this critical habit of mine and need to start to “Process the Thoughts” as part of energy habit Develop. This could be a variety of answering my set daily questions but also Think Space which is simply “thinking on paper”.
- Working later and later into the evening and even on the weekends – now that the weather is nice and my kids actually want to do things with me, I need to just STOP feeling like I have to work more hours. The inbox will always refill and almost everything can wait.
- Worrying about when I’m going to travel again, my finances, along with how Elite Road Warrior is and will continue to be affected during this health pandemic. I’m a man of faith and I’ve let worry and anxiety overtake my trust in a faithful God who’s yet to let me down in my 50 years on this earth.
- Time in the pool with my kids and playing sports with them – this one I really regret not doing from the beginning, and my recent change of swimming with some swim rat kids or throwing the football with my 9-year-old or shooting baskets with my high schoolers has been such a game-changer (especially when Dad can still win)…
- Walks with my wife – we walked most nights the first couple of months, and then the weather in Chicago heated up and we hit a stretch of 20+ days of 90+ degree weather and we got out of the rhythm.
- Late nights – I’ve let my family’s summer break affect my sleep and I’m feeling it big time. The later I stay up, the more my brain stays engaged and I fall asleep later and later but always wake up at the same time so I’m losing at least a full night of sleep a week. This needs to change tonight.
- Drinking during the week and I don’t mean H20 – I’ve let stress get to me too easily especially with the change of my role and I’ve turned too easily and quickly to “the secret sauce” and this needs to change and has so far this week.
There you have it Road Warriors: the good, the bad, and the ugly of yours truly. Just laying it out there.
So, I ask you now:
- What have you discovered about yourself these 1st four months of not traveling?
- What draws you to the road?
- What if you can’t travel until September or even January?
- What do you need to change? (Start/Stop/Do More/Do Less)
Your action items may be one or more of the following:
- Actually implement the process and the thoughts with these questions
- Listen or re-listen to the six-part podcast series on how to leverage home life to prepare you for road life – check out episodes 066-074 to go deeper.
- Make some pre-purchases – Not Forgotten Journal / Flat Kiddos / Connect Cards / Water Bottle / Elite Road Warrior Black Leather Journal
You can find the listed resources here.
This was a different style of episode and I hope you were challenged by the questions and are willing to ask these questions of yourself now to help you to prepare for Road Life again. Do the action items. Visit the Elite Road Warrior Store.
Leverage this time until we can travel again to help you become and remain an Elite Road Warrior today to eliminate burnout and exceed results.
You Got This!