When I created No Sidebar, I wanted to create a community of like-minded folks, sharing stories and the experiences of our busy lives. While I set my sights to climb a high mountain, I had no idea how enjoyable the journey would be.
We recently celebrated our one-year anniversary, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with the growth and engagement that has taken place so far. In short, it has exceeded my expectations tenfold.
I think one of the most important elements of No Sidebar is the intentionality in which we live our lives, and our underlying desire to find happiness. We simply want to enjoy a well designed life.
However, there’s this thing called distraction, which has a tendency to get in the way of who we are and what we want to do with our life. It’s usually a subtle thing—like the tide in an ocean—and before we know it, we’re lost at sea.
The good news is we can easily change course and get back on track. Here are eight ways you can reclaim your life. Please don’t be overwhelmed with this list. Start with one item, and see how it goes. We’re all a work in progress.
1. Travel — go places you’ve always wanted to visit.
Two years ago I was sitting up in my office mindlessly browsing my Instagram feed. I realized there was a deep feeling of resentment I was having for my friends who were posting photos of places I wished I was at—snow-filled mountains in particular.
I decided right then and there I needed to make a change. I walked downstairs and told my wife “I’m going to Colorado this winter. I need to be in the mountains and experience life. Either you can go with me, or I can find some friends to meet me up there.”
This past December, 10 of us took a trip to Breckenridge and enjoyed some much needed time away. It’s now an annual thing, and we call it Brocation.
2. Social media — unplug from your devices every now and then.
We live in a day where access to our smart phones, tablets and laptops is practically 24/7. At any given moment we have the luxury of hopping online or opening our email, and while that’s a blessing, it can also be a curse.
There’s nothing wrong with using our devices, but it’s problematic when we become addicted to checking in—and start to abuse the privilege. It’s crucial we prioritize those we love over our devices every day of the week.
3. Have conversations — seize the day and talk deeply.
There’s something to be said about sitting across the table from your favorite person, enjoying a cup of coffee and having fine conversation. It’s something I don’t do often enough, but something I’m being more intentional with.
While you’re at it, be sure to ask questions, and dig below the typical surface that conversations seems to stay at these days. Be authentic. Speak openly. And reap the rewards of love and friendships the way they were meant to be.
4. Declutter — remove the unnecessary junk in your life.
The old saying goes, “Where your junk is, there lies not your treasure.” Obviously, this begs a significant question—why do we end up buying too much stuff that we ultimately don’t end up using?
Well it’s safe to say that many of us have excess in our homes, in our cars and in our closets. Make good use of the stuff you don’t need by donating it or giving it away. Let someone else use and enjoy the stuff you don’t.
5. Try new things — have no fear and enter the unknown.
A few years ago my wife and two of our friends signed up to run the Las Vegas Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon. At the time, I was lifting weights and had never run more than a mile. This was quite the challenge.
Though I would have gone as a spectator to support them, I decided to run it with them. Not only was I unconditioned for run the race, I only had 4 weeks to train. But train I did, and I proudly finished the race.
Five years and 24 half marathons later, running is my passion and something I do 5 days a week. I never would have imagined I would have loved it so much, but taking a risk and trying something new paid off. Next stop, 26.2 miles.
6. Reminisce — look back and remember things that matter.
I’m a romantic—always have been, and always will be. But one thing I don’t do often enough is look back on my life and remember the things that are worth holding on to. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I’m constantly on the move, constantly thinking up new ideas or constantly attending to things on my to-do list.
Regardless of the cause, it’s therapeutic for me to close my eyes and think about my journey and it’s something I want to go out of my way to do more. After all, why wouldn’t I want to remember the best days of my life?
7. Solitude — spend time all by yourself, with nobody else.
Confession time. This is by far the item on this list that I struggle with the most. And if I’m being honest with myself, it’s because I don’t want to hear what the silence in my life has to tell me.
Pair it with a job that requires me to spend 8-10 hours a day online, and you have the making of a built-in excuse which I use quite often in order to avoid solitude. The truth is, I sometimes wonder if I know how to experience it.
Nonetheless, it’s something I know I need to do, because if anything, it recharges my creativity and makes me more productive. For now, consider this a “do as I say, not as I do” suggestion. Just keeping it real.
8. Rest — stop what you’re doing, and do nothing.
This might sound a bit like solitude, but the difference here is that you don’t need to rest alone. For me, this means I need to shut down my computer, put my phone away and do something other than work.
Perhaps this is opening up a book, taking a walk or flipping on the television—however it looks, the idea here is to break up the monotony of the day and participate in events that break the norm.
Or maybe it means laying down in the middle of the afternoon and dozing off for a while. It’s amazing what a 20 minute nap can do for you when you’re 41.