Monday, March 23, 2015

Experience & lessons from my first Workcation

This post is #8 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

The idea of having a bonfire, sleeping in a tent, showering, and returning to work may not excite everyone, but it warmed my spirit! I felt I became so accustomed to the comforts of my house – running hot shower, comfortable bed, and toilet – as well as the comforts of technology – including watching programmed DVR television, perfectly arranging my Netflix queue, responding to email at a moment’s notice  – that I lost touch with unplugging during the workweek. The idea of going somewhere local and unplugging for a few days, while still going to work and contributing during the day, made me feel I could have the best of both worlds – a stable career and dedicated time to relax.

My first workcation was spring 2013 for two days at Doheny Campground, a surfer’s campsite retreat along the beach in southern Orange County. It was from Tuesday-Thursday. I was reluctant to tell my coworkers what I was doing outside work, as I didn’t want to worry about how the lingering smell of campfire may distract from team meetings and projects. I invited a few friends to join me on the adventure. Although the idea seemed too radical or irrational to most, one of my best friends, Wally, joined me in the adventure and we were off!

On Tuesday night, Wally and I arrived at the campsite after work around 5:30PM and had sense of giddiness. For the first time in a long time, we were breaking out of our comfort zone by simply breaking upon our tents on the beach. An activity that is supposed to be enjoyed during “vacation hours” or “on the weekend” suddenly became an adventure, as we broke out of our normal routines and found time to relax. We turned off our phones, made camp, and enjoyed a bonfire complete with BBQ and s’mores.

We woke up the next morning with a sense of reawakening to our senses. Instead of turning on the coffee pot and heading into the shower, we jumped into the Pacific and went for a swim. The ocean’s chill temperature refreshed the body and the pounding waves helped awaken the senses. We were alive! The day was fresh and full of opportunity!

The first full work day after the workcation was exciting. I felt like I had a secret. The real secret wasn’t that I went camping the night before, but that I knew of a way to recharge, refresh, and reclaim a feeling of independence and hope. I felt that I had unplugged from the life around me and was able to reconnect and replug with a fresh perspective and sense of engagement. The lingering, but small odor from campfire didn’t slow down my workday. I actually found myself more productive during the day – both as motivation to return to the campsite again, as well as having the time to be unplugged from our constantly plugged in society. These were only the feelings after the first night of the workcation! I was excited for night two!

Wally and I returned to the second night of workcation with a larger crowd. Several of our friends, including Ashley, my beautiful girlfriend and now wife, joined us for a bonfire. Some of our friends were amazed that we returned to work after camping the first night and others thought it was a little crazy. No matter what our friends thought, this is what their own opinion. I had learned to be less concerned with their thought and appreciate my own experience, which was that it was refreshing, different and placing me more in touch with my friends and myself.

We finished the second night of the workcation, returned to work, and put behind our past as we started to focus again on our future. The workcation was almost a respite and restart button that helped trigger a new sense of purpose. Similar to starting the New Year fresh with a clean slate of resolutions, the workcation was an opportunity to evaluate our life direction and put into focus what was important to us.   

It’s amazing how vivid the memories of that experience still are. I’ve probably worked hundreds of days since then and I may not be able to tell you what I did last week during the work week, as it falls into my normal routine. However, when we break out of our comfort zone and routine, we are able to enjoy more of ourselves and create lasting memories that carry on for years and possibly even a lifetime.


I can go on and on about the details of the first overnight workcation, but this book is not about me, it’s about YOU! And the rest of this book is to help you get started with your own workcation! Even if it’s a small workcation, such as a short walk in a park after work, or an extended overnight adventure, it’s time to get started!


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, March 16, 2015

Introducing the Workcation

This post is #7 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

Our comfortable culture of working hard, not taking vacations, and taking forced “staycations” continues to transcend into the habits of our daily lives. Today, more and more Americans are dining “al desco” and enjoying “no resco.” Our culture is engrained to go, go, go! But at what cost? We need to take time for ourselves in order to have a balanced life and be refreshed.

Frequently, it can be major setbacks in our life that cause us to question our purpose and open our eyes to what we are really pursuing and if that matters to our life goals. I’ve endured various physical injuries, including my bicycle accident and lost close family members in my life, including my brother. These moments are all very painful –both on physical and emotional levels.  Having elements of your physical health removed from you or loosing loved ones to cherish these experiences with, causes your mind to value and cherish each prior experience. It also slaps your face and electrifies the mind to value each and every day as we don’t know what is around the corner. These various life moments taught me to identify moments in our life, where we can pursue our dreams and take full advantage of the time we have.

Sometimes major setbacks and also cause a person to quit everything and have an extended time to pursue their dreams. This may involve going on a cross country drive, visiting several countries in Europe, or starting a new job. My setbacks didn’t cause me to revolutionize my life, as I more than anything just wanted my old life back.  I didn’t quit my job and start to ride my bike across the United States to bring advocacy for safe streets. However, it did open my eyes to how I spent my time and what activities I valued.

As my face was slapped with the fragility of life, I realized that I needed to take more advantage of my after work time. I realized that I could explore my natural surroundings and have “mini-vacations” or workcations during the workweek. I started to go on hikes after work, or stop on my commute home to go for a walk on the beach. It was these moments that I spent in outdoors and with nature, which awakened my senses and caused me to reflect upon my life as the world also reflected on me. I was unplugged from technology and distractions of our hyper connected society. These “workcations” became the highlight of my workweek.

As I started to explore more and more, I wanted MORE. I wanted the ability to extend these feelings of nature’s solitude for a longer period; but I didn’t want to quit my job for it all. On the side, I tried to create my own line of successful mobile applications to fuel my early retirement, but it was met with mixed results. It provided the opportunity to enjoy more lattes, but not enough to buy a new house. I quickly realized that having a stable career and income was still important to me too!

As I tried to research opportunities to see more of the outdoors, I realized that camping may provide the best opportunity to be in the outdoors for an extended period of time. The experience of sleeping in a tent could provide the ability to be surrounded by nature and away from technology devices that kept me “connected.” I wanted to detach from technology and connect more with myself, thoughts, and nature.

       As I started to explore available campsites, my visions of sleeping under the stars, enjoying a hike under the moonlight, and contemplating life by a campfire quickly dissolved as I saw that the majority of local campsites were reserved for the next 6+ months. As my frustration increased due to the lack of unavailable campsites, I felt a sense of hopelessness. This sentiment caused me to rapidly click through the reservation calendar only to see occasional openings during the workweek. Could it be possible that I could go camp during the workweek? Could it be possible to camp and work? …And the first overnight workcation was born! I made a reservation for a two night stay at local beach campsite and the workcation was on!


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, March 9, 2015

Staycations are Pointless!

This post is #6 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

Don’t hate the title, before you read the explanation.

“Staycation” involves staying at home during your pay vacation time and enjoying leisure activities within driving distance, while sleeping at home during the night. The term achieved popularity during the subprime financial crisis of 2008. During this time period, American unemployment increased from 5% at pre-recession levels to over 10% by late 2009. Home prices plunged over 30% in a three-year period, causing millions of Americans to be underwater on their home or own more than the house was worth.  Additionally, the S&P 500 index declined over 57% from its peak in October 2007. As more Americans lost their jobs and saw their net worth decline, more and more became afraid of losing their jobs or being unable to pay for their mortgage.

During the 2008 financial crisis, more and more Americans were afraid to take regular vacations, because they didn’t want to show any sign of being not dedicated to their jobs. Additionally, some workers received reduced pay or furloughs, restricting the amount of disposable cash to enjoy a vacation away from home or suddenly being forced to stay at home for period of 1-2 weeks without pay. As these cutbacks trends magnified during the financial crisis, more and more Americans started taking staycations. The term was originally coined prior to the recession in 2005 by Canadian comedian Brent Butt. It took a few years to gain traction, but staycation became widely used in in summer 2008 as may families reduced their travel budgets due to lack of job opportunities, reduced pay, and high gas prices. 

The reason staycations are pointless is that it shouldn’t take reduced pay and lower stock and home prices to wake up your senses and desire to explore your local surroundings. You should already be exploring your local surroundings. According to The Great American Staycation, “a staycation is the most successful when you have a positive attitude and willingness to adjust the traditional notion of what a vacation is.” The attitude to accept a staycation was BOTH positive and negative. Americans were slapped in the face in 2008 and forced to realize spending time at a local park or visiting a local beach was the best option for their “vacation time,” as they had limited money to explore other options. The individuals how had a positive attitude were more accepting of the situation and probably had a more enjoyable time on their staycation. Studies also found that staycationers were tempted to go to work for part of the time or stay plugged into their work by checking email. The point of taking vacation time is to unplug and connect with yourself. As you connect with yourself, you grow and your ability to enjoy the essence of life expands.

The more we realize that unplugging and enjoying our surroundings enhances our lives, the more we feel compelled to do it regularly. We don’t need a dedicated “staycation” or “vacation” time to feel compelled to enjoy the world around us. We need the ability to enjoy life has it happens. We need the ability to take a break in our daily lives to enjoy our surroundings and either connect with our self or our loved ones. The ability to explore our world significantly increases as we realize that we have the power to choose were we spend our time and are not forced to take a vacation or “staycation” simply because we have to. We should want to explore life ourselves and can find time balancing our lives as we explore more. One of the best ways to explore our surroundings is by dedicating time during our workweek to find time for ourselves – on any scale. As we discover, we grow. As we grow, we our life expands and flourishes. And that is why, we all need to discover the workcation.


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  




Monday, March 2, 2015

No Vacation Nation: The habits of an overworked society

This post is #5 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 


This post is short, but it’s important. It’s full of statistics to share one important takeaway with you: take advantage of your rest time! No matter how you spend your time, it’s important that you spend it pursuing activities that interest you and to use your earned time off!

In today’s era, more and more workers, particularly Americans, are failing to take their vacation days. According to a recent study by Harris Interactive, an Internet-based market research firm, 57 percent of Americans ended 2011 with unused vacation time, failing to take, on average, 11 of their allotted days off — or 70 percent of what they rightfully earned. Other national surveys have calculated that as many as 66 percent of us keep working when we could be kicking back somewhere, leaving unused a total of 459 million vacation days. That’s millions of hours that can be spent relaxing, unplugging, connecting with family and friends, or simply just enjoying life! These statistics are not the norm. It’s estimated that Americans are taking less vacation then any point in the past 4 decades forfeiting over $52+ billion in time-off benefits in 2013.


The main reasons that workers fail to take their vacation time is that they are afraid of falling behind work, want to please their boss in order to keep their job, or don’t have enough money to take a “vacation” worthy of their expectations. Additionally, most workers who do not take vacation are “defensive overworking” or too busy trying to please their company or their boss. Our culture is constantly trying to please ourselves, coworkers, and bosses that “al fresco” has been replaced with “al desco” or eating our lunch at our desk during the workday. The reasons of not taking our vacations or allocated lunch breaks are all valid, but it doesn’t force an individual to live an endless pattern of commuting, working, and commuting. There is more to life than a cubicle and chasing the corporate ladder.

To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, February 23, 2015

Hyper Connectivity

This post is #4 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 



As more and more of us understand that time is the most valuable commodity, we seem to cram it with the need to maximize every moment. We text, post updates, send snaps, email and take 100 pictures every day. These countless needs of reaching out and staying in touch can distract us from the very essence of experiencing life.

Only ten short years ago, we lived in a world with limited social media. MySpace was the network of choice, instead of Facebook. We downloaded from Napster for free instead of paying $.99 cents per song from Apple’s iTunes. We enjoyed playing snake on a Nokia 3310, instead of playing Clash of Clans or Candy Crush on our iPhone 6. We were connected by technology, but not at the same pace that we are connected today.

In today’s society, interest can shift from one network to the next within a moment’s notice. Applications, such as OMGPOP’s Pictures with Friends can be created, sold for $210 million and then become valued at ⅕ of that value within a year. How could something so “valuable” could depreciate 80% within a year? Or SnapChat can scale from 5 million users to over 150 million users within a 6 month period. Today, networks grow faster than the speed of light, making it tougher for individuals to experience real light.  

        Take a look at cars around you next time you are at a red light. It’s amazing how many people will be looking down on their phones --either texting, responding to emails, or browsing the Internet to “connect” or “stay-in-touch” with others around them. When did our lives become so busy that we needed to receive constant updates from our world? Why is it important for us to be able to respond to messages in a moment’s notice? Is it okay if we respond in the next hour or even hour? ...Should I even suggest one day?

It doesn’t simply stop with our phones, tablets, and PCs. The desire to stay connected is transcending beyond traditional forms of device integration. Our cars are now equipped with applications to keep us connected and extend the cloud wherever we drive. Our homes are getting integrated with smart solutions, such as state-of-the-art thermostats and cloud streaming cameras to make them more efficient and continually share information with us. Wearable devices, such as Apple’s iWatch, will fuel the next generation of hyper connecting.

The rise to stay in touch and connected didn’t simply arise with the modern smart phone. In fact, technology’s integration into society can be traced back to the early 20th century, when telephones replaced the Morse Code as a form of constant and personal communication. The rise continued in post-World War II as the housing baby boom gave way to the birth of the personal computer.  Over the next 30 years, the personal computer evolved and slowly integrated its way into suburban households. Although it took decades for this transformation to unfold, it is the next few decades that really accelerated the integration of personal connection with technology. It all unfolded with the birth of the commercial Internet, which allowed allow individuals and consumers to connect via email, personal websites, and early social networking sites. In the blink of an eye, the Internet quickly started to transform that way we interacted and spent our time.

As individuals used the Internet and purchased more technology devices to connect to their friends, family, business contacts, and acquaintances, it created an intersection between civic engagement and social contact. The lines quickly started to blur between personal and technology connection points. The critique of this intersection was noticed by sociologists, Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman in the 2002 report, How Does the Internet Affect Social Capital. In the study, the two sociologists discuss this convergence between social contact, interpersonal communication, such as phone calls and personal encounters, and civic engagement, time spent enjoying community and political activities, such as sports or business clubs. Although some may argue the accelerated intersection between social contact and civic engagement can be viewed as an advancement in society, Quan-Haase and Wellman discovered that this intersection can erode and discourage from real-world involvement and participation within society. This erosion is caused by the need to feel less motivation to participate in the real world as technology makes it more convenient to connect.

As the pendulum shifts from real-word communication and participation to electronic participation, the hyper connectivity continues to accelerate. Today, millions of mobile phones are added to the network each day, adding more points of contact are added to the system, which increases the amount of messages that are connected or “hyper connected,” a term coined by Quan-Haase and Wellman to convey the person-to-person and person-to-machine connection.

As this acceleration increases, the main question to ask yourself is …how do you connect? How do you chose to spend your time connecting and interacting with others? How much of your time is spent on TV, the Internet? Texting? Playing video games? Or casually browsing social media? No matter, how you spend your time, remember each pastime you choose is your choice. You have the power to decide how and when to spend your time. 


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, February 16, 2015

Introducing the Workcation

This post is #3 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

Our comfortable culture of working hard, not taking vacations, and taking forced “staycations” continues to transcend into the habits of our daily lives. Today, more and more Americans are dining “al desco” and enjoying “no resco.” Our culture is engrained to go, go, go! But at what cost? We need to take time for ourselves in order to have a balanced life and be refreshed.

Frequently, it can be major setbacks in our life that cause us to question our purpose and open our eyes to what we are really pursuing and if that matters to our life goals. I’ve endured various physical injuries, including my bicycle accident and lost close family members in my life, including my brother. These moments are all very painful –both on physical and emotional levels.  Having elements of your physical health removed from you or loosing loved ones to cherish these experiences with, causes your mind to value and cherish each prior experience. It also slaps your face and electrifies the mind to value each and every day as we don’t know what is around the corner. These various life moments taught me to identify moments in our life, where we can pursue our dreams and take full advantage of the time we have.

Sometimes major setbacks and also cause a person to quit everything and have an extended time to pursue their dreams. This may involve going on a cross country drive, visiting several countries in Europe, or starting a new job. My setbacks didn’t cause me to revolutionize my life, as I more than anything just wanted my old life back.  I didn’t quit my job and start to ride my bike across the United States to bring advocacy for safe streets. However, it did open my eyes to how I spent my time and what activities I valued.

As my face was slapped with the fragility of life, I realized that I needed to take more advantage of my after work time. I realized that I could explore my natural surroundings and have “mini-vacations” or workcations during the workweek. I started to go on hikes after work, or stop on my commute home to go for a walk on the beach. It was these moments that I spent in outdoors and with nature, which awakened my senses and caused me to reflect upon my life as the world also reflected on me. I was unplugged from technology and distractions of our hyper connected society. These “workcations” became the highlight of my workweek.

As I started to explore more and more, I wanted MORE. I wanted the ability to extend these feelings of nature’s solitude for a longer period; but I didn’t want to quit my job for it all. On the side, I tried to create my own line of successful mobile applications to fuel my early retirement, but it was met with mixed results. It provided the opportunity to enjoy more lattes, but not enough to buy a new house. I quickly realized that having a stable career and income was still important to me too!

As I tried to research opportunities to see more of the outdoors, I realized that camping may provide the best opportunity to be in the outdoors for an extended period of time. The experience of sleeping in a tent could provide the ability to be surrounded by nature and away from technology devices that kept me “connected.” I wanted to detach from technology and connect more with myself, thoughts, and nature.


As I started to explore available campsites, my visions of sleeping under the stars, enjoying a hike under the moonlight, and contemplating life by a campfire quickly dissolved as I saw that the majority of local campsites were reserved for the next 6+ months. As my frustration increased due to the lack of unavailable campsites, I felt a sense of hopelessness. This sentiment caused me to rapidly click through the reservation calendar only to see occasional openings during the workweek. Could it be possible that I could go camp during the workweek? Could it be possible to camp and work? …And the first overnight workcation was born! I made a reservation for a two night stay at local beach campsite and the workcation was on! 

The Most Valuable Commodity

This post is #2 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

If I asked you, “What is the most valuable commodity?” What answer would you give me? You may respond with “gold,” “oil” or the “Apple iPhone 20” with the telepathy application set to release in 2020 (don’t bother Googling iPhone 20, I’m just joking around here). Or, you may take it a level deeper and respond with more practical commodities, such as “food,” “shelter,” or “water.” ...Or you may respond with an emotional answer such as “love,” “health,” or “family.”  These are all excellent commodities and are extremely valuable, even priceless in many instances.

However, what if there was a commodity that could interconnect all of the responses above. What if, we responded with “time?” Time is a commodity that we cannot buy. Once we use it it’s gone. There is no additional source, unless you are one of the privy few who has invented time travel, but even time travel may have unexpected consequences.

Time is valuable, because our lives here on earth will eventually end. Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth, hasn’t been channeled to reflect the water’s mysterious powers to the rest of us to provide immortal powers. The more we understand that time is the most valuable asset, the more we cherish it. The more time we want to spend enjoying life – cherishing moments with our family and friends, accomplishing bucket list items or doing whatever activity makes us feel free and alive.

Whatever your activity is, it may not necessarily involve “work.” As time becomes more valuable, especially as we get older and have less of it; time becomes even more special. The time we have is precious. How we choose to spend it may determine our overall happiness and fulfillment in life.

As time becomes more important, it’s valuable for us to cherish it doing activities that we ENJOY and SHARING those activities with people we love. We don’t want to look back one day in our old age and go “I wish I did that,” or “too bad I didn’t go here.” Additionally, we are not going to say “I’m really glad I saw every episode of Entourage.” It’s the moments, such as experiencing the first snow fall, taking a long hike, or teaching someone how to set up a tent that we will remember. These experiences are valuable and help us grow in our own life journey and reward us with passionate memories of life. 

The more we spend enjoying life and time outside with our friends, the more we grow and are rewarded. The more we spend not confirming the stereotypes of society – such as shower, commute, work, commute, repeat –the more we feel alive and are rewarded with wonderful life experiences. As we experience time and truly live in the moment, our eyes are opened to the richness of the moment. The moment of now! Living in the moment and realizing that the time we have before us is right now can cause the mind to start chasing goals or dreams that we may have put off. It can open us up to exploring more of our surroundings and enjoying some of the richest moments that life has to offer.  



To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.