Friday 5 | Work Travel: How to Be Grateful For Your Job (Week 4 2018)

Each week I write the Friday Five Employment Gratitude. This exercise is the answer to how to be thankful for your job. I encourage all FIIntroverts to practice this gratitude with me in the comments.

You made it! Another week gone by. I hope you took advantage of it and added value to the world. It’s Friday and that means time to get some $15 microbrews and get ready for some weekend retail therapy!

No!

You know The FIIntrovert doesn’t do that. It’s time to get down with some Friday Five Gratitude! Wondering how to be thankful for your job? Feel free to steal some of my own gratitudes as you create your own list.

1. Work Travel is a Privilege and Opportunity

This week I got to spend a day and a half in Boston and I’m really grateful to have been able to spend a few hours in a different city.

Business travel gets a bad rap. We let airline delays, crying babies, uninspired art hanging in uninspired hotel rooms, and cattle-like herding on and off of aluminum tubes sour our experience of business travel.

But traveling for business is a privilege!

Traveling for work is disproportionately done by wealthier households. While one-fifth of American households earn less than or equal to $25,000, those in that income range only account for 6% of business travel. On the other side of the spectrum, six figure earners and up account for 27% of business travel but only make up 12% of American households.

So while it may seem like you are stuck in a mass of humanity when taking off your shoes, removing all items from you pockets, making sure there are no liquids, gels, or aerosols in your bag and getting a small dose of radiation in that futuristic scanny thingy, you are actually privileged to travel for business.

Traveling means you likely have a well-paying job (and are getting some free meals on the expense account). So I’m grateful for work trips. You?

2. Work Travel Companions Will Tell You Everything

Being The FIIntrovert, I used to really dread work travel. All that time with other people without an escape is just draining. Not to mention the travel colleagues that want to drink all night and complain about their marriages.

(Dude is this what you do when you get home? Down six beers after dinner and stay up until 1:00 am? Try getting a little shut-eye and some exercise and you might be a kick ass husband under that sleep deprivation and dehydration.)

These days, I am thankful for my work travel companions. For whatever reason, it is open season on the personal details when out to work dinners one-on-one. Some people live fascinating lives. My latest travel companion told me he spent $974 on two pens! I didn’t even know such a thing was possible. There is no scarcity of pens in my life and I quickly concluded that Jordan Belfort must have sold the pens to him.

Over what may seem like small talk, work travel companions will tell you things they would never reveal in the office. They must feel like any work destination is Vegas and it is all confidential. In any case, you should keep everything confidential but some information that travel companions reveal will help you learn about an organization or industry in a way that would never be communicated in the office or over email. Listen for these nuggets and ask questions.

If you are a strong FIIntrovert with good listening skills and an ability to make deep connections, you are likely to be someone people want to be around, even if you are drained. Set a time limit for yourself on the night and learn to firmly and tactfully (come on now I know you can do it) end the evening, at least for yourself.

With a lot of empathy and an appreciation for the fragile state of humanity, having a coworker open up to you is something to be grateful for. Enjoy their company and remember that it is better to be interested than interesting.

3. Business Travel Renews Appreciation

My wife traveled this week for work as well. We didn’t see each other for three days. (By her count, it was five days. It’s funny how formerly known truths like MATH can disintegrate in a marriage.)

Being away from your spouse or significant other can renew appreciation for them. Yes, it is nice to sleep alone maybe for one night, but its even better to be home in your own bed next to the person that tolerates your tossing and turning. When you spend a few nights in a stale hotel room, its nice to have renewed appreciation for the seemingly mundane routine of falling asleep near someone who cares about you (and no, the snoring guy in the adjacent room doesn’t give a shit about you).

The FIIntrovert can sometimes be a FIIntrodick when he gets home from work travel and needs some time in silence. But if I communicate that I am drained and need time by myself, my wife begrudgingly understands and let’s me recharge. Talk to your spouse about your needs. Appreciate that they’ll listen, unlike the clients you just spent three nights with who couldn’t take social queues.

4. Business Travel Provides a Break from Coworkers

Like the above, a break from our coworkers who we might take for granted in the office each day can spark renewed enthusiasm or appreciation for familiar faces. When arriving back from business travel people often ask how your trip was and you have the opportunity to catch up with them on their last couple of days.

Seeing someone in the office each day can get stale just like any relationship. A break can really be a opportunity to let tensions cool or reset a relationship and foster its growth. We need space from our coworkers and not just a weekend where we come back potentially resenting their presence on Monday, though they are certainly not responsible for our “case of the Mondays.” (You do not identify with the article in the preceding link because you are kicking ass on weekends, socializing, being healthy, know how to be thankful for your job because you are on the path to financial independence. That article, frankly, espouses loser science.)

When you get back from a business trip, use it as an opportunity to reset and refresh relationships with coworkers. A little small talk after a few days away won’t kill you and it will help you build stronger relationships, which can help you on your way to FI.

5. Business Travel Can Provide Opportunities for Perspective

My flight was late morning but I got an early start to the airport because I didn’t know what traffic would be like.

My Lyft driver to Logan was deaf.

A man was crossing the sidewalk near a parking garage. The car in front of us was making a right turn into the garage. It had to wait for a pedestrian.

Somewhere close by in the city a traffic a horn blared. The person in the car in front of us, who is no doubt the star of his own movie, assumed the horn was to move him along and that it was from our car. To show his displeasure at the perceived slight he wagged his middle finger at my Lyft driver as the pedestrian cleared the self-identified victim’s path to the garage.

I wondered what my Lyft driver thought of this. He had not honked at the gesticulator nor had he even heard the errant horn to understand why the man mistakenly reacted as he did.

What a strange world to live in. The absence of sound can really change an experience. As I write that it seems so obvious.

The other takeaway from the small interaction is how important direct and clear communication is. As an introvert, I might have an entire concept formulated in my head. In an effort to limit time in a meeting, I may blare it like an errant horn. One of my coworkers, half paying attention and centered on her own experience, may hear the horn and think it is for her.

It is important that we take the effort to fully articulate ourselves, even when we are trying to get out of drawn out meetings or save social energy. People have a strong capacity to hear horns and think they are meant for them. These misunderstandings will cause us to have to interact with more people in greater stressful situations. Best to be clear and direct in the first communication.

I hope the above makes sense. In any case, I am grateful for the opportunities I get for reflection while on business travel.

Your Turn

Well, you’ve got some more tools to understand how to be thankful for your job. Show gratitude for those business travel opportunities. Leave comments below on one aspect of your job (or life for that matter) you are thankful for this week.

Have a great weekend.

The FIIntrovert

If you book your own business travel:

One comment Add yours
  1. I don’t have the opportunity to do business travel though I always wanted to! Another benefit (not sure if this was mentioned) is the free airline points accumulation and the meals out on the business. Though business travel might not be as novel once/if kids happen and you just want to spend time with the kids.

    Haha that’s awesome that your work colleagues are baring their souls to you on your work trip. There’s nothing like traveling together in a different city to really get to know someone. My husband is also an introvert (like me, we are both 78% introvert) and he tends to get people baring very detailed relationship issues to him as well.

    It IS exhausting to be listening all the time though.

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