Perfectionist Mindset vs. Adventure Mindset
In my professional life as a chamber of commerce president and event planner, I’m a true planner. Prior to an event, I have a game plan and organize even the smallest details. I consider what could go wrong and make an alternative plan, even if only in my mind. During the event, I react when something goes awry and make corrections to the best of my knowledge and experience. I don’t stress over details or when things go amiss. People are often amazed by how calm and collected I am on event day. What they don’t realize: By the time the event occurs, everything is done and it’s a matter of implementing my game plan.
I don’t have a perfectionist mindset. Rather, I know I must be organized since I oversee community events. I realize I’m representing my chamber of commerce, community and, most important, reputation as an event planner.
When it comes to traveling—especially alone—I’m the opposite. I’m 100% the adventurer who allows travel to happen. Yes, I book some transportation and lodging, but I leave flexibility in my schedule to roll with the punches and see what comes my way. I don’t want to be so structured and planned that I miss out on amazing experiences. In my personal travels, I utilize an adventure mindset.
This summer, I spent five weeks in Europe, exploring six countries. Prior to departure, I researched the countries and made tentative notes about what I wanted to see and do. I did not book one activity. I wanted to wait until I arrived to talk to others, meander the streets and learn about cool opportunities. As I reflect on my journey, I visited the usual touristy spots but my willingness to be open-minded paid off with unique experiences.
In Berlin, Germany, I discovered the BMW museum and sat in an expensive car. In Cricova, Moldova, I learned about and explored an underground winery with galleries stretching 70 kilometers. Outside of Kiev, Ukraine, I took a tour to Pripyat, site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. I’ll never forget wearing a Geiger counter around my neck, detecting and measuring ionizing radiation, and learning about this tragic, yet historic event. My friend Stefka took me to Belvedere Palace in Vienna, Austria. I remember how I felt when I had my first view of this stunning Baroque landmark. Pele’s Castle, In Sinaia, Romania, was mesmerizing. This fairytale castle, built in the late 1800s for King Carol I, is located in the Carpathian Mountains. The castle’s surrounding mountain views were as stunning as its exterior and interior. Finally, I visited Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, where I attended a wedding of a dear friend, Pingi. Imagine my surprise when I left Tsarevets fortress, walked downtown and a car pulled alongside me, with someone calling, “Hey, Julie.” Martin, Pingi’s fiance, was running errands for the wedding and saw me. I didn’t know I’d have any of these European experiences, yet my disposition to engage in the unexpected and unpredictable moments resulted in lifetime memories.
On a negative note: My lack of planning or cultural knowledge led to challenging situations. In Moldova, I had no idea how or where to get a marshrutka, a local bus, to cave monastery Orheiul Vechi. My ignorance of Moldovan language skills put me at a disadvantage. It was only through hand signals, guessing tactics and just plain luck that found the correct bus. While exploring Kiev, I misread the map—written in Ukrainian—and walked miles out of my way before orienting myself. In Romania, when my taxi driver inadvertently dropped me off at the wrong location, I had no idea where I was or how to get to my destination. Finally, when I flew from Romania to Germany for my return flight home— via Poland—my flight layover was limited. As a result, my backpack didn’t catch up with me and I had to return to the United States without belongings. I filed a lost baggage claim in Germany and hoped for the best. In each situation, I rolled with the punches. I didn’t panic. I remained confident I could figure it out. What I discovered: By using creative problem-solving skills and relying on others for assistance, I learned valuable lessons and created lifetime memories.
As some who travels with students, do you have a perfectionist mindset or an adventure mindset as you commence your journey? Do you plan every single detail and moment, or do you allow flexibility? Those with perfectionist mindsets often blame others—tour company, hotel, bus driver, tour guide, et cetera—and freak out when things don’t go as planned. When the unexpected happens, perfectionists react negatively in front of their students, allowing them to see their teachers agitated. Perfectionist mindsets are often closed-minded to new adventures and, in the long run, miss out on unexpected moments. It’s the unexpected that changes lives.
Or do you have an adventurous mindset—where you and the tour company plan some details, but allow adaptability? As the trip unfolds, do you add new activities, spend time with people you meet along the way and let the trip happen? Of course, teachers leading youth groups understand the importance of planning trips, especially as they’re responsible for the students. However, it’s imperative to be open to unexpected adventures and react positively to them.
“Life is full of surprises and serendipity,” Said Condoleezza Rice. “Being open to the unexpected turns in the road are an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you will miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure-do it well, enjoy it and then, not now, think about comes next.”
According to Nomads with a Purpose, “Adventure is about allowing yourself to be in a situation where you are forced to be challenged, where you are forced to learn and where you are forced to grow.
“An adventure mindset requires an open mindset. A positive mindset. A growth mindset.”
Written by Julie Beck, Contributing Writer for Teach & Travel.
This article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Teach & Travel.