I'm just back from a business trip to Dallas. It was my first time on an airplane in over three years and my first time representing our company as a conference sponsor in nine. It had been ages since I had traveled by myself too. To say I was nervous beforehand is an understatement. We decided to participate in the conference with less than a month to prepare and my schedule was already full with projects and responsibilities. Some people delight in planning travel. I am not one of those people. I got myself pretty worked up, tossing and turning over all the details. I was overwhelmed. I was afraid.
It just felt so huge. There were tickets, giveaway items and a banner to order. There were dinner invitations to send, a room to reserve, new contacts to reach out to, promotional materials to design and print, an ad to create. I wondered whether I could generate enough interest in our services to lead to enough revenue to cover all the expenses. I worried no one would come to the dinner I was trying to put together. I fretted about the possibility of delays and cancellations and how they would mess up the rest of my plans. I stressed about all the family details that had to be thought of in advance in what turned out to be a very busy week for the Myers kids.
When the day of the trip arrived, I had to get to the parking lot, to the airport, to the terminal, to the gate, onto the plane. Then off the plane, to baggage claim, to the venue to set up, to the hotel, to the restaurant, back to the hotel. After being "on" for dinner and two conference days, I'd have to pack up everything, ship the extras home, find my way to a different airport than where I landed, then to the terminal, and... you get the idea. Ugh. So many opportunities for things to go wrong. I was outside of my comfort zone.
You've been there. Maybe it's not a trip that's completely overwhelmed or scared you, but a project or an event or a job search or an illness or a purchase. You've likely had an experience that feels beyond your capabilities or threshold for stress, even though you know others thrive in these same types of circumstances.
And what do we do in those situations? We figure it out. We make it work. It's not always pretty. It's definitely not perfect. But we do what we can to rise to the challenge.
Here's how I did that:
I accepted help. My boss is great about asking how she can support me. Knowing my own areas of weakness, I asked her to find my flights, decide on and order giveaway items, and design our banner. Fortunately for me, she agreed! What a relief.
I asked for a pep talk. I shared with a few people how much anxiety I was feeling about the trip. They reassured me it would go well and I would be successful. They're people I trust deeply; what a privilege to be able to share my heart with loved ones who wouldn't judge me or minimize what I was feeling, even if they don't get stressed about the same things.
I reframed the experience. My brilliant daughter suggested, "Just think of it as an all-expenses paid vacation, Mom." I applied her advice at several points throughout the trip, enjoying the someone-else-is-making-the-bed moments and just allowing myself to sit still and catch my breath or read a book when waiting for takeoff or for my bags to come down the conveyor.
I broke it down. I think this is the strategy that worked the best to conquer my travel anxiety during the trip itself. When I started to worry on Monday morning about shipping items on Wednesday afternoon, I decided I could only focus on one step at a time. So it was, "Right now I just need to get through security." And then, "Now I need to make sure I get lunch before getting on the plane." And so on. Broken down, each step was a breeze.
I filled my cup first. Knowing how depleted I would feel from all of those conversations, I made sure I always had enough in the tank. I went for a walk in the morning. I made sure I had a good breakfast. I left the party an hour before it was over because I was spent.
I applied multiple strategies. Can you tell?
The trip went fine. Well, even. Really well. I still don't love to travel. Or plan travel. I'd rather do the work than sell the work. I don't know yet how much new business I'll be able to generate from the trip. There are definitely conversations and logistics I could have handled more effectively and plenty of hiccups along the way. But I made it through, thrived even. And I'm better for having done it.
Rise to the challenge.
You've got this.