We are home for a week between phase 2 and phase 3 of our gap year. Last Wednesday was a big and yet very ordinary day. I woke up in my own bed at home that morning after traveling continuously for 4 months. It was also the 1 year birthday of my (Link) book Beyond Normal: a field guide to embrace adventure, explore the wilderness and design an extraordinary life. I am also celebrating crossing the 100,000 downloads milestone on the Ordinary Sherpa podcast. Is this success?
Success in the Oxford Dictionary is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. I have mentioned before that I am a recovering achiever that was driven by success AND I also noticed that there is a point when it felt like the success indicators weren’t driven by an internal desire to accomplish or attain that status, rather a mirror of others’ expectations of me. Let me take you back a few years ago when the concept of a family gap year was merely a spark of an idea.
I had achieved my success goal of becoming the executive in a field iI loved and yet it seemed I still yearned for the feeling I get when we are on a family vacation. What was it about vacation that made me content? Could I replicate that feeling in everyday life?
I think “success indicators” are often marked with some type of public recognition, maybe not in a formal way. A recent conversation in social media is how kids get recognized for various things. As a former teacher with 800 students all I have some thoughts on this. The empathy I have from my time as a teacher has informed how I parent. Is perfect attendance a goal we aspire to? Why? Do we do all the things like National Honor Society and get good grades and participate in sports so we can wear cords at graduation? I’m not saying this to devalue students accomplishments. As a parent I have become much more selective about what I advocate for. I have decided to focus my time and energy teaching my kids to do things because they truly want to and not for the “trophy.” I have a hunch it might be better for their well-being. Perhaps from the number of trophies, medals, and certificates I threw out as we moved over the years. Those weren’t the things that really mattered.
I like to call these summit experiences. A peak or a highlight that we have been working towards and most people don’t see the training and behind the scenes reps that go into getting here. They also exude an inner-feeling of joy and accomplishment in a way that doesn’t seek external recognition (to most people it might not even seem like an extraordinary experience). They are different from traditional goals. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) goals have a place, and often are driven by an external desire, based on a measurable outcome. I wanted a way to honor the spontaneous and unplanned ways to recognize accomplishments and the feelings of happiness, joy and contentment.
Defining and recognizing summit experiences was developed after we did our family Joy Audit. I don’t think I would have ever noticed or appreciated sitting in the recliner with a cup of coffee and enjoying the sunrise. Or the sensory experience of taking our warm and fresh bedding out of the dryer when returning home after 4 months of continuous travel. I don’t know that I would enjoy recording and publishing a podcast for 2+ years if I was chasing a metric of 100,000 downloads. Or looking back at my first book and thinking that now I know the process and can write an even better second book!
The Joy Audit Tracking Form that helped us design our Family Gap Year is now available for purchase. The Joy Audit helped gain a deeper understanding of what truly brings you joy and fulfillment. It helped to identify activities, experiences, and moments that light us up from within. It revealed patterns and trends that impacted our happiness and prolonged joy. It helped identify areas of life that need more attention and highlight areas that already bring you immense joy. I am excited have this available now in a format for others to begin noticing, tracking and replicating the moments and experiences that bring family adventures to life. Click here to download your Joy Audit Digital Download Tracking Form now and experience the power of intentional joy tracking: https://ordinarysherpa.podia.com/joy-audit-tracking-form.
Shifting to a joy-driven mindset has been helpful framework to determine when we say yes, to slow down and make intentional changes, embrace adventures big and small, noticing the everyday moments that get overshadowed with tasks. Big adventures are often built on the backs of small wins. My book was written in 1000 words per day. 100,000 downloads was accomplished by publishing new content each week. Our family gap year was built on a series of simple adventures in our backyard and beyond. Using a tool (such as the joy audit tracking form) is a helpful awareness builder in making decisions and taking action towards your next bold adventure.
I can’t wait to hear about your summit!