Despite what you may have heard, travelling with bags will always cost you and it is difficult, if not impossible, to travel without them. It seems to me then, that if you are interested in holding your costs down, the answer is to carry smaller bags.
You are, no doubt, familiar with the term, “we all have baggage.” The term is a metaphor for the negative experiences we accumulate and carry with us during our lifetime. Generally speaking, the longer you live, the more baggage you are expected to carry.
If you are living your life, in the sense that you are personally invested in its direction, purpose, and value to yourself and others, then you are going to experience some adversity. You will deal with tough situations and undesirable, sometimes, undeserved results. It would be impossible to expect that you could effectively deal with these matters and come through completely unscathed.
Invariably, life is going to take its toll on you. Your job isn’t to avoid adversity and negative experiences. Your job is to limit the cost of that adversity. To do so, you are going to have to keep those bags that you carry to an absolute minimum.
There are negatives all around you and ignoring them isn’t very healthy. Recognizing them and then immediately putting them in their place is not only healthy, it is liberating and the least costly of your options if you are going to carry those bags and the smaller the better.
As an example, I enjoy travelling, but I do not enjoy being laden with luggage. When I travel, whether by air or just around the city between meetings, I prefer to travel as lightly as possible. I only bring what is necessary and I try to save my energy for the place I am about to visit or the meeting I am going to attend.
I try to live the same way in which I travel in the sense that I do my best not to carry a bunch of stuff around with me and stuff can be defined in a variety of ways.
Stuff can be the emotional and mental toll that adversity and negative situations can take on you when you do not find a way to effectively deal with those matters and put them in their place, preferably a small bag somewhere.
Stuff can be the material things that you have acquired, used, and are no longer in need of as you reach different stages of your life. Keepsakes are great, but there probably isn’t a reason to hold on to the picture frame that is out of style or the fondue set that you used once and haven’t looked at in twenty years.
The baggage that you carry is not limited to the belongings that you bring with you from place to place. It also applies to the mental baggage that you carry with you when you allow feelings like resentment and frustration to pile up and accumulate space in your mind. If you try to deal with a problem or think through a situation while still carrying a pile of mental baggage from a series of unrelated events or circumstances, then the weight of that baggage will prevent you from effectively coping with the matter you are currently trying to address.
Whether we are talking about baggage of the physical or meta-physical kind, it does not just come along for the ride without extracting a fee from the carrier.
So, what are some things that you can do to carry the least amount of baggage possible?
First and foremost, make it a point to deal with matters as they arise. Running from problems or pretending they do not exist is not an effective strategy. Give yourself the time and space to analyze and understand the problem or the situation.
Once you have taken an honest look at the situation, put it into the proper context. Often times, problems may appear bigger than they are. As human beings with the power of imagination, we are all capable of blowing things out of proportion. Things are rarely as bad as they may seem. You simply cannot allow yourself to lose perspective. Just like the trophies on your mantle, problems need to be kept in their proper place. The difference is that you want to create as much space as possible for your positive moments and work to minimize the space needed for your negative ones.
Now that you have given yourself an opportunity to see things for what they are, take a moment to determine what your course of action will be. In my experience, there is no better tonic for a problem than coming up with a plan to deal with it. Your plan and the number of steps you will need to take will greatly depend on the nature of the situation, but it is important to keep two things in mind. Keep it simple and define what you need to do by drawing the shortest and straightest line from where you are to your desired result. If you think of your plan as a map, you will be well on your way to understanding this concept.
It is time to execute your plan. Follow the steps that you have identified, create a few checkpoints along the way so you stay on track, and put that problem in its place.
Lastly, once you have successfully dealt with that adversity, take a few moments and determine what you have learned and gained from the experience. When you realize that you faced a problem and defeated it, you will soon also realize that you have also minimized that baggage that you will inevitably carry around with you.
Take These Five Steps and Travel Lighter
- Turn toward the problem
- See it for what it really is
- Develop a plan
- Execute the plan
- Learn from your experience
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.