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No Vacation Required Podcast

For fulfillment fanatics interested in traveling deliriously, living deliberately, and working virtually.

How To Get Over a Slump

NVR Guys

Exhausted. Unmotivated. Loopy. Still in catch-up mode from having just returned from our last adventure in Europe, we had to pull it together for the family and friends we had come to spend the holidays with in Portland.

A great day in Portland

I made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to pull myself away from the way-too-comfortable tempurpedic bed. No luck. Those beds are sleep whisperers. Finally, I made it to the window, turned open the blinds and saw a beautiful day coming to life.  I convinced myself that that was all the motivation I needed to rally the other half of the equation. Without making the mistake of over thinking it, we gulped down coffee from the room, pulled on workout clothes and dead-headed for the gym.

It's true what they say about exercise. Starting really is the hardest part. A few minutes into my cardio regime – music queued up and blaring on the iPod – I was finding my groove. On our walk back to the hotel, we did the math and realized we had a good chunk of time to enjoy Portland before heading to the first of what would be a series of get-togethers.

Motivated by the chance to roam around the city we love, we scrambled to shower up and quickly hit the streets.  We wandered around and got acquainted with the changes to Portland, our old hometown. New buildings, new neighborhoods, new parks. But a very familiar and comfortable vibe. We were gratified to find that we still know the "heart" of the city – the way it moves – very well.

Unfortunately,  the buzz from our morning coffee and the workout faded away. We were frustrated that we couldn't fully emerge from our latest travel induced slump, so we popped into a cafe for some energy in the form of a sandwich. As we looked at the menu, the three employees were discussing their plans for the evening and their eagerness to be off of work and out and about with the masses.

Given the crowds – and having to work on Christmas Eve – they were remarkably friendly with customers.

"That's really cool! What is it? A sweatshirt? A jacket?" said the register guy to Caanan when we made it to the front of the line.

"More of a sweatshirt, I guess"

"I really like it," the guy said inspecting it closely.

And that could have been the end of that. Instead, resuming our walkabout after lunch, Caanan said: "Let's see if we can find this sweatshirt for that guy."

We were due to surprise a stranger (which we like to do every once in a while), so it was on. Even though we had bought the sweatshirt a few months earlier in Seattle, we were pretty sure we could score one in Portland.

We did.

I wish you could have seen the guy's face when we walked back in the cafe. At first I think he thought we were upset with something about the food. After all, who comes back unless you're pissed or you've lost something. Then, you really should have seen his face when Caanan handed him the bag. He looked completely baffled. Next, when he peeked in and started to figure out what was going on, you could see – via his changing expression – his brain working through what was going on. Priceless.

He was grateful. Stunned and grateful.

We made a stranger's day by randomly surprising him with a relatively small gesture.

On our way to meet up with family, recollecting and laughing about how happy the guy was, we were energized. Even better, it turned out that our slump was over for good. Randomly surprising a stranger – and getting out of our own heads – was the perfect remedy. It proved that the slump was mostly a mental thing, as they so often are.

Need to get out of a slump? Try giving your attention to someone else. We say go surprise a stranger (in a positive, lawful way!). See how it changes YOU.

We're going to do this more often in 2012.