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Sharing Travel Plans: Can It Help You?

Sharing Travel Plans: Can It Help You?

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    When I plan a trip, I make arrangements to meet up with people. I email anyone I know might be in area, announce my itinerary on Twitter and even add a trip to Dopplr. My efforts have paid off: I’ve met people I had already become fast friends with online in person. I’ve expanded the scope of projects by taking a few minutes away from my vacation to meet with a client. I’ve even managed to meet entirely new people by tagging along to meetups of various kinds. Sharing your travel plans can pay off.

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    Quick Payoffs

    Unless you’re planning a trip with the sole purpose of getting away from everything in your day-to-day life, I’m willing to argue that there’s a big payoff to sharing your travel plans. Right now, thousands of people are planning to converge on Austin, Texas for SXSW. Pretty much every social media site I’m active on is buzzing with what attendees are planning: some are making arrangements to share cab rides or even hotel rooms on the basis of shared travel plans. Others are making arrangements to finally meet people they’ve been talking to online for years. Still others are planning how to best take advantage of the fact that they’ll have a whole list of people they’ll want to talk to once they get to Austin.

    Sure, SXSW is at least partially about networking. But the same holds true even if you’re doing nothing more than taking a weekend getaway to the next state over. You don’t have to spend every hour of your trip with people, but think about the benefits of telling people you’ll be in town:

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    • You can connect with others in your field, maybe learning something that can come in handy when you get back to the office on Monday.
    • You can make a new connection with a company you’re hoping to work with — or for — in the future.
    • You can reconnect with old friends and see how they’re doing.
    • You can make some new friends and have some fun, rather than spending an evening in a hotel with a television for company.

    Share Your Plans

    Before you can take advantage of those connections that sharing your travel itinerary creates, you first have to actually share it. I’m a big fan of making mention of my plans on the sites that I most commonly frequent, such as Twitter. There are a few sites that actually specialize in sharing travel plans, though. Dopplr and TripIt are the two that I’ve seen most commonly used. Whether or not these sites are the best, the fact that they have quite a few members is crucial: the more people that are on a site, the more likely that you’ll be able to share your plans with someone you’re actually interested in seeing.

    TripIt can create an automatic itinerary for you if you forward the confirmation emails you receive for booking a hotel room or a flight. Dopplr allows you to enter your travel plans yourself. Either option can be good — although contacting people you know live in your intended destination can guarantee a better response when you ask to meet in person. It can also be worth checking out what’s actually going on in the area, through sites like Meetup, in order to find out if all the cool kids will be in one place on a particular date.

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    Privacy and Travel

    I remember my grandmother planning for a trip when I was a kid. She bought a timer for the lights in her living room, setting them to turn off and on as if she was home. She made arrangements for her newspaper and her mail to be held until she returned, so that neither a stack of papers on her porch nor an overflowing mailbox would give away the fact that she wasn’t home. My grandmother went to some lengths to make sure no one knew she was out of town until after her return.

    In contrast, I post my travel plans on Twitter, Facebook and even on Dopplr. I do take a few measures to keep my home safe when I’m out of town, but pretty much anyone who wants to discover where in the world I am can do so.

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    I know that one of my grandmother’s big concerns about whether people knew she was traveling focused on the fact that someone might be able to take advantage of her absence. Coming home to a break in was definitely a concern of hers. I’m not about to say that it wasn’t a valid concern, either. I lock up my place whenever I’m gone and I make arrangements for someone to keep an eye on it while I’m gone.

    But, for a long list of reasons, I don’t feel the need to take the same approach to protecting my privacy when I travel that my grandmother did. I think that there are some serious safety concerns that go along with broadcasting your whereabouts through any social media site and I don’t think that there are fewer reasons to be concerned about leaving your home empty. In part, I mitigate those facts by not sharing my home address with anywhere near the frequency that I share my personal location. Someone set on finding out where I live could do it, but not casually.

    There’s not a perfect solution if you have any interest in sharing your travel plans online, but many people seem comfortable taking those risks.

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2020

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

    In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

    How to Listen to Your Gut

    The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

    Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

    1. Tune Into Your Body

    Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

    However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

    Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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    Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

    In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

    2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

    Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

    There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

    3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

    Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

    As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

    This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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    4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

    As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

    Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

    5. Challenge Your Assumptions

    When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

    In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

    A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

    6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

    Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

    There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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    Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

    Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

    Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

    We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

    The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

    We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

    7. Trust Yourself

    It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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    Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

    If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

    The Bottom Line

    The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

    Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

    More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

    Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
    [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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