I'm about to embark on a new adventure: I've accepted a 6-month contract in Minnetonka, Minnesota, where I know no one, starting April 25th. Moving to a new place can be both exciting and lonely.
For the past few years, I've been really interested in positive psychology and understanding what makes me happy. Basically, my life goal has become to maximize happiness and minimize stress. In my studies of happiness, I've heard over and over again that "social connections" are the key to happiness. If that's the case, is it crazy for me to move away from my home here in Colorado where I have so many strong connections, to a place where I have none? Even though it is only for 6 months, I've come to recognize that every minute of life is important. In fact, "Carpe Diem" and living life fully is kind of my mantra. Would I move to Minnesota for 6 months if I only had a year to live? Probably not. On the other hand, isn't experiencing new things part of what makes life so wonderful?
Well, my adventure in Minnetonka, making new friends, seeing new places, and still fostering my current relationships.. those will all be topics for future blog posts (at least that's the plan). But for today, my first adventure in this new sub-chapter of my life is "the road trip." How can I take this road trip and maximize the happiness and minimize the stress?
I actually love road trips.. I love to explore places along the way.. stop and notice the different scenery and the locals. Try a new unique restaurant, use apps to find unusual sites and stops. I love to have long conversations with whomever is in the car with me, sing along to the radio or CD, or listen to entire audio books. The one thing I don't like to do is actually drive...
Yeah, driving is not my strong suit. I hate driving by big trucks that are going fast, and especially being trapped in the middle lane between two big trucks. Of course, driving in bad weather, in the dark, or on curvy one-lane roads in the mountains are also on my list of why I suffer from "Driveaphobia," and luckily none of those challenges are likely to happen on a spring Denver to Minnesota road trip (though April does often bring some pretty nasty snow storms, so I guess there is the possibility..)
In any case, my first challenge in my "Minnetonka Project" is to do this road trip and figure out how I'm going to maximize happiness and minimize stress. Since I like road trips but hate to drive, here are some options:
1. Buy a self-driving car
OK, now let's move on to the realistic options.
2. Get a friend to go with me
This is my favorite option. And, by the way, I'm happy to pay all expenses, including hotel and flight back to Colorado. I'd even drive half the time (ok... so you'd have to risk your life with this, but it would be an adventure, right? Having me drive is purely optional depending on how much of an adrenaline rush you want on this journey.) The only requirement to be eligible for this exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is that you're already my friend. If you're not, but you still want to get to Minnesota from Denver for free, go to option 3.
3. Get a stranger to go with me
I could use Craigslist to advertise a Drive-share opportunity. This could be an opportunity to meet a new friend so it's intriguing. On the other hand, I don't know if I want to be stuck for that long with someone I don't know very well and I, personally, want to do this drive in two 7-hour driving days, rather than a 14-hour drive, so... then there would be the whole awkward conversation about getting a hotel..
4. Drive myself but enlist friends to be my "virtual road trip buddies"
This solution reminds me of my "virtual running buddy" plan I came up with when I ran the Disney Marathon in 2005. I had friends call me every 10 minutes during the 26 mile run to cheer me on and help distract me from the pain of running... especially during those final miles. It was awesome!
If I choose this option, I'd once again enlist friends and family to call me along the way with phone calls. We could sing, talk about some deep topic, or I could describe the driver of the car who's flipping me off because I'm talking on the phone and not paying attention to the road. It would be SO much easier than trying to talk and not pay attention to what I'm doing while running in a marathon! I really like this idea because it includes my idea of "staying socially connected" even though I'm heading out on a solo adventure.
So, if you're my friend, expect my invitation to be a virtual road trip buddy options 3 and 4 don't pan out. And in the mean time, let me know any great stops or tips you have for me to prepare. Songs? Audio books? Cool places to eat or stop along the way? Routes?
Let the adventure begin!