Blog: Five Tips on Tackling Travel
7-min read: Too much work travel causing you family grief?
Living and working in an international community can often mean one thing - lots and lots of international travel and where work is concerned, very little choice about when and where that happens! Whether it's you and your partner who's regularly on the road, the added activity - not to mention time differences - can add more emotional strain on many levels for the whole family.
We caught up with Coach Mary Barrett of Butterflymango, who works with mums, families, teams and top business leaders to help them achieve their potential. Here are some of her tried and tested quick and easy things you can do to give you immense family ROI:
1. Connection with your kids and partner
Find out in advance of your trip if there are any significant events happening while you are away (for example, the school sports day, exams, choir performances) or anything that you can’t attend due to work commitments. Firstly, get it scheduled into your diary so you don’t forget (or get your PA/VA to or you could download a great app like Cozi which synchronises family events). Then make every effort to make a call on the day. I know many C -Suite Leaders, who I have coached, proactively give themselves the permission to stop, postpone or leave a meeting for 10 minutes to connect with their kids and/or partner. Believe me, rather than dent or damage the relationship with the potential business opportunity, it carries weight because it exhibits a man of character, integrity and humanity. The same goes for your partner – it will pay dividends I assure you! I know this isn’t always realistic so if you don’t think you can get out of the meeting or if you are in a different time zone, record a video in advance sending a message of encouragement – ‘I’m here for you in spirit’ message. Never underestimate how special you can make a child feel when you acknowledge where they are, what they are about to do and that you are thinking about them.
2. Build your stamina
While away on business, in different hotel rooms, eating different foods and changing time zones, be kind to yourself. I am still always astounded that people will fly across the world, go straight from a flight, even if its business/first class, directly into a multi-million-dollar meeting and expect to make rational, thought through decisions whilst sleep deprived! Sleep deprivation is at an all-time high and this epidemic is rising. Matthew Walker in his book Why We Sleep says that people who constantly live on less than 6 hours of consecutive good sleep are more likely to suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s in their aged years. And if you are a MasterDad with young children then you are in even more need of good, consecutive sleep to be able to function at your highest level. It isn’t just sleep you need to consider. When you are travelling and particularly when flying, nutrition and hydration are critical for your body and brain to be able to function effectively. I always suggest to my clients that when you are going to be eating out whilst away choose the vegetarian option as it is less likely to give you food poisoning and is generally easier on your digestion system. Daily exercise is an absolute must too. There are huge proven benefits that even 20 minutes a day promotes better mood, helps relieve stress by increasing your endorphin levels and lowers the risk of diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases. As well as this and more importantly, you will arrive home to your family and loved ones, fitter and stronger.
3. ROI Mindset
If you don’t have a solid outcome/intention/objective of your meeting/s when travelling, I would question if you should be going at all. If being away from your family is not going to result in a progressive move forward in your business and you arrive home saying ‘it’s been a waste of time’, then I hold you responsible. I appreciate that in some cultural hierarchical organisations you may have less choice, but it is crucial that you agree measurable objectives with business partners in advance of your meeting. This is a critical and, a much more emotionally rewarding, success factor. The financial, never mind the emotional and physical costs of the travel need a committed ROI or otherwise, to put it bluntly ‘What’s the point?!” As Simon Sinek says, ‘It’s all about the why’. What is YOUR purpose? What are you proactively doing to manage your Mindset when you are away? Have you downloaded your uplifting podcast, book or YouTube video (check out my website under MasterLeaders for some inspiration) to keep you ‘in the zone’? This can be a great opportunity for learning and developing yourself while travelling. Use all time away from home time to ‘grow’ yourself mentally and your family will reap the benefits on your return.
If you must be away from your family, use this time to refuel and allow some ‘you’ time. Develop your spiritual side through meditation. Emily Fletcher, the founder of Ziva meditation and author of the book ‘Stress Less, Accomplish More’, writes that the benefits of meditation include, decreased stress, deeper sleep, improved immune function and increased productivity. The usual excuse is ‘I am too busy to meditate’ but as Ghandi said “The busier I am, the more I need to meditate”. Walk in nature, visit an art gallery, try a yoga class, book a massage or just ‘escape’ with Netflix. If you get the chance to connect to Wi-Fi when on a flight, resist, resist, resist! Take the opportunity to be up in the air to dream about your future. Don’t get caught up in the minutia of business. It’s almost the last frontier of ‘non-connectiveness’ and as the tide starts to turn, when more and more exclusive luxury resorts offer no Wi-Fi as a unique selling point, take this ‘free’ chance to do just that. Switch off to switch on. Use this time to remember daily all the things you are grateful for. As Jim Rohn says, “Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want”. When feeling grateful it is impossible to feel stressed, unappreciated or angry. Allow yourself to think about a minimum of 5 things you are grateful for, cultivate this as a daily habit and watch as ‘what you appreciates, appreciates’.
5. Tsunami alert
Your business trip has come to an end and you are now looking forward to returning home to experience a welcome like Pa in the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ show with opened arms and connection. But life has gone on without you, and your kids would rather be watching the TV or be on their iPad then welcome you home. Many partners who manage the home situation have associated the homecoming as a ‘tsunami’ effect. The boat is floating along on a journey and then the traveller arrives home and everything goes upside down for a weekend or until he/she leaves again, and the boat finds it natural ebb and flow again until the next time… it’s exhausting for everyone. I suggest to my clients to book in a ‘debrief’ time. This could be a date night/lunch with your partner so you can catch up on another week’s fast-flowing family events. Aim to spend quality time with each of your kids, even if its 20 minutes to be fully present (no phones or devices within arm’s reach so you won’t be distracted!). It is the quality of these connections, not the length of them, that your children will remember. Find out how their week has been: what did they learn this week that they found interesting or what mistakes did they learn from? How are their friendships? What did they find funny or what made them giggle? Humour is always a fabulous way to connect. If you do this regularly and make it a habit, then they will unconsciously start to filter for that information in advance. They will look forward to you coming home knowing you are going to be truly interested in what has happened whilst you have been away plus you are growing their positive Mindset along the way. Good news for everyone.
If you would like to proactively work on improving any area of your work/home life, connect with firstname.lastname@example.org to book a MasterLeader Coaching session. For more tips to help you at work and home, head here.
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