As business travelers are grounded, literally, it’s been weeks, now months since we’ve traveled due to the current health pandemic.
The reality is only knowing business travel most of my life, I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions not traveling at all. Many of those emotions on the same day.
I don’t claim to be a highly emotional or unstable guy – I’m high energy, but not all over the place emotionally.
If anything, for most of my life I didn’t show much emotion, and the result was passive-aggressive behavior that unintentionally affected those around me. It’s been an area of growth for me to handle my emotions in a healthy, mature way.
But if I were to open up the honesty vault, during my 1st couple of weeks of being off the road when this health pandemic began, I had bi-polar contrasting opinions and emotions.
With reflection, I’ve identified
Eight revealing emotions I’m experiencing not traveling at all
I challenge you to consider how many of these are true of you right now.
Emotion One – Confusion
My last trip was on March 10th. I had some meetings even though a big conference I was attending was canceled last minute. Little did I know that it would be my last trip in who knows how long.
Even then I was a little skeptical and had no clue what would transpire in the world of business travel let alone the world as a whole.
The next week I was left spending hours, then days canceling everything I knew was canceled, which meant flights, hotels, car rental, meetings, etc. I was also waiting and waiting to hear if my next trip was going to be postponed or canceled, so there was a degree of shrapnel I was dealing with.
Emotion Two – Disappointment
Then I moved from confusion into some real disappointment.
I was really looking forward to warm places during an extended gray, unpredictable winter in Chicago.
I always make it to Arizona in March to experience Chicago Cubs and White Sox spring training. This was the 1st time in eight years this didn’t happen.
I had a couple of big events in Las Vegas.
I was going to take my family with me on their spring break to the west side of Florida to thank them since Dad was gone a lot during Q1.
I had a trip to the Bay Area for a conference and training.
I was going to Dallas for a training and was so excited to see the brand new Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers. I have to update my “been to every single baseball park to date that is current” streak.
And on and on and on.
Events, people, experiences, sites – all postponed or canceled.
Disappointment was and still is real in this business traveler.
Emotion Three – Relief
Once the Stay at Home Act hit Illinois (thanks to Chicago), I didn’t realize how tired I was of the grind of Road Life and I seek to become and remain an elite road warrior.
We aren’t rushing our kids all around town for basketball and volleyball practice. My early morning flights out and late flights in are not an issue.
Spring is finally showing up in Chicago and my kids can get outside.
I can help my wife with spring cleaning like never before in the Buck Fam house because I’m a captive audience. We’ve purged so much, someone driving by on garbage day asked if we were evicted.
But instead of staying in “relief mode”, the next emotion started kicking in and kicking me.
Emotion Four – Frustration
It was kinda nice not having the rapid pace our family often finds ourselves in.
But then I had to figure out how to work-from-home with everyone home all of the time.
Now, a little background. My wife is a school teacher and all of my kids are in school except my youngest who is four.
During the school year, I have my home office and the entire house to myself which is ideal. I can work but also help out around the house by taking a break and doing some laundry. I can also prepare dinner for the fam so they can come home and eat.
Then during summer, winter, and spring breaks, the Fam is home but I also have the ability to go and work somewhere else: Starbucks, the library, and often my local string of hotel lobbies (thank you Residence Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn) or they can go out for a day at the park, the zoo or the pool and I can get the house back for long stretches of time to work.
This gives me some variety and allows me to make the best of working from home.
But always having interruptions, hearing voices (which I believe was only my family), all the time is frustrating.
Emotion Five – Exhaustion
I thought the road had its moments of exhaustion but who would’ve ever thought there’s another smaller pandemic called Zoom Fatigue?!
I’ve hit a different level of exhaustion due to:
- Seeming to always be on the phone.
- Zoom meeting after meeting with no breaks in between – which the author of the article called “Zero Break Schedule” – at least on the road I had drive time.
- One Position for One Screen – let me quote the article: “Another reason that video calls can be exceptionally tiring is that you need to physically hold yourself in one position. In an in-person meeting, you’d likely shift from side to side, tilt back in your chair, swivel from looking one way to another depending on who is speaking, and lean over to take notes. Unfortunately in a video call, you’re stuck in one place trying to stay in the center of the screen, and moving in any other direction can cause your face to become awkwardly cropped.”
- Interruptions that are seemingly quick and not bothersome, but I have found myself constantly trying to get back my train of thought or re-engage in the meeting.
- And most importantly, an exhausted wife who is doing online learning with her grade school class, learning new technology, home-schooling the kids, and feeling like she’s on house arrest.
Emotion Six – Uncertainty
It’s hard not to get sucked in by the day-by-day updates on the news, articles being written, and the onslaught of social media.
How much longer?
What’s our plan?
How will my job, business travel, the world, look like post an unprecedented health pandemic?
All real concerns and ones that if not kept in moderation and perspective can lead to a whole other string of emotions like worry, fear, paralysis. Need I go on?
I’m a person of faith and this has been a real life challenge/opportunity to not allow uncertainty to steal my peace and my trust in God.
It’s brought our family closer together and strengthened our faith.
Emotion Seven – Curiosity
A mentor and friend of mine, Mike Kim, has this quote when challenging times confront us and here’s the quote: “What does this make possible?” or in other words: “What does being off the road for an extended period of time make possible?”
The longer I’ve been home I’ve tried to turn the uncertainty into curiosity.
How will companies handle this time with their business travelers on the ground to improve their road life so everybody can win?
How can I use this time wisely to have something to show for it other than relief it’s over?
And this has led into the 8th and final emotion I’m experiencing not traveling at all…
Emotion Eight – Motivation
Maybe it’s accepting the new normal right now.
Maybe it’s the weather finally warming up.
Possibly it’s my resilience and optimism coming through.
Probably a combination of all the above, but either way, I now only want to lightly experience any other of the eight emotions and spend my emotional energy on Motivation.
This will be a six-part series on how to leverage being home with the sole purpose of getting myself ready to get back to Road Life.
Are you in?
Emotions are real whether you choose to recognize them or not. We need to work through how they’re effecting our New Normal right now.
I encourage and challenge you to notice when these emotions come up and how you handle them.