Exploring the Outdoors for the Career-Driven Person
Balancing your professional job in the modern workplace and your thirst for the outdoors.
We've all seen those beautiful and somewhat inconceivable Instagram accounts where the 'grammer does nothing but hike, climb, and live in a van. You have to give them credit, they know what they're doing with a camera...but what's going on with the rest of their life? For the rest of us trying to make college a worthy investment, we need vindication both outdoors and in the office. This means we need to work hard to be successful in our careers and stay motivated to enjoy the weekend.
It's tough to dive into your career 40+ hours a week as the priority and be productive outdoors. Unless you're in a unique position where you're collocated right next to great outdoors and have a great career, this is something with which you may struggle.
I've outlined five points, with personal anecdotes from my experiences, that I believe will help you achieve peace in the workplace by crushing the outdoors. For context, I work in an office setting at a computer monitors coding Python all day.
1. Redefine "relax"
I think the culture today defines relaxation as watching Netflix in bed at noon on a Sunday. Nothing drives me more up a wall than finding myself in this situation. Relaxation is whatever you need it to be for you. For me, it's carrying my tent and sleeping bag in my Osprey headed up the side of a mountain to a remote lake with my wife and dog. For you, since you're reading this, relaxation is likely something similar. I have all day at work to sit around; more sitting is not relaxing. Exercising, exploring, and adventuring all reduce my levels of stress so, in turn, they are my "relax". Don't be ashamed to explore what relaxing means for you and then pair it with your work week.
2. Set Pragmatic Goals
Keep the majority of your goals limited to the current season. During summer months, I keep backpacking in mind, letting ski and snowshoe season by the wayside. Keep these goals pragmatic; something you can actually check off your list when it is achieved. Ambiguous goals like "get out on the weekend" or "explore up north" don't cater to establishing whether or not a goal has been reached; you'll never get anything done. For this past backpacking season, I set the goal of not being in our hometown for every weekend for two months straight. This is precisely a goal I can check off once completed.
3. Plan Properly Around Your Goals
You have a calendar at work that keeps your agenda clean and spiffy, why not for your weekends? Write it down, put it in your calendar, send invites to amigos, include locations (everything you do at work). This enables you to make the most out of every season and get the most well rounded perspective/variety. I currently maintain a Google Keep note of all the trips for the next nine weekends with ridiculous details about each trip.
Plan also, if you are able, to take a day or two off during your most favored outdoors season. For me, it's backpacking season. I'll take a day or two off alongside a weekend in order to sneak in a 30-40 miler.
Hard work during the week will make the weekends more enjoyable. Get up at 5:00 AM to squeeze that run in, your glutes and calves will thank you on mile five of your ascent this weekend. If you're suffering doing whatever it is on Saturday and Sunday, work harder Monday through Friday to make it a good time. Training, paired with healthy intake, will help you find yourself with more energy and more alertness all week long.
5. Work Hard, Play Hard
You're great at your job for a reason. It's probably because you work your rear off and when you're there, you're there. Same goes for the outdoors...be there, not at work. Remember that you worked hard all week and now you're going play hard doing what you love. One of the best parts about going to the backcountry is the opportunity to be off the grid. If that's not the case in your situation, make it so. Don't bring that device or power it down and put it at the bottom of your bag. Just remember, you earned that right. Do something that pushes you to your limit, makes you fall asleep before your head hits the pillow, causes you to daydream, and changes what you thought could be achieved before Monday morning. By playing hard, your next 40+ hours at the office will be even more productive.
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.