Our lives move at a frenetic pace. Pinned beneath the weight of our professional careers and personal responsibilities, we constantly battle stress and fatigue, before inevitably burning out. Then the cycle restarts, because what can we do but keep going? It might sound cynical, but there’s truth to the notion that everyone is just winging it, all the time.
For those of us in the digital marketing industry, the idea that people are pulled in many directions shouldn’t be a surprise. Our brands (and our clients’ brands) are competing for this limited attention. There’s a reason stress-relief and self-help articles advocate scheduling fun activities - because many of us would otherwise forget.
Harsh realities aside, let’s not overlook humanity’s incredible ability to adapt. It’s the reason our society has advanced to the point where artificial intelligence and living on Mars are real possibilities. If we can figure out how to get to the Red Planet, we can deal with an overstimulated, high-stress environment, right?
One of the best ways to positively adapt our thoughts and attitudes toward life is to change our perspective by getting away from our daily routines. For those of you who attended or helped run our 2015 Global Convention in Miami, hopefully it was enough of a departure from your normal day to shake things up in a positive way.
In thinking back on our experiences over this past weekend, we wanted to touch on a few of the benefits that anybody, in any industry, can gain from hosting or attending a convention (or conference).
Gets You Out of Your Comfort Zone
Comfort zones are funny things. On the one hand, they’re like curling up on the couch with a book and a blanket on a gloomy day. This sounds like a great plan, until you realize you were supposed to clean the house, write a few emails, make a call and buy groceries. Oops. A comfort zone is a lazy place where progress and ambition get buried beneath easier, safer things to deal with.
For most people, attending an event at which they don’t know anybody and are forced to network or mingle - let alone give a talk - is well outside their comfort zone. Ipso facto, attending a convention is a fantastic way to get out of your comfort zone and embrace opportunity. Whether it’s making a big connection that helps set your business on a course for success or simply learning something new and making a few friends, a convention is the perfect remedy if you’re feeling stale or stuck.
Allows You to Focus On One Thing
We said that day-to-day life can be hectic, so let’s elaborate. Depending on your situation, there are bills to pay, events to plan, food to buy and cook, houses or apartments to clean, and problems to solve. Oh and then there needs to be some time for fun and relationships - you know, a little enjoyment of life? It already seems like a lot, but we haven’t even mentioned a full-time job or business to run, which is not only the source of stress, but it takes up the majority of the average person’s life (outside of sleeping).
Good grief, Charlie Brown.
But this isn’t a pity party because that’s life and we’re all living it. Attending a convention, however, allows you to get away from your daily life, if only for a few days. And once you’re out, you can focus on one thing: being at a convention. There’s a schedule, so you follow it. See this talk, attend that presentation, converse with a few people, eat some food, shake some hands and give out a few business cards. Sure, you’re doing different things, but they’re all part of the larger act of being at a convention.
Here’s a tip: if you’re going to attend a convention, actually attend it. Don’t give in to the urge to check email, let the office handle it. For a day or two, your job is to focus on being present at a convention, and that’s it. It does wonders, if you can pull it off.
Gives You a Chance To Meet and Talk to New People
Believe it or not, meeting new people is a huge hurdle for some of us. Regardless of the reason, it’s a hurdle that needs to be cleared. And in my experience, the best way to overcome something is to jump right into it - that way, there’s no looking back. Can you think of a better way to jump into talking to new people than walking into a room with hundreds of industry experts whom you’ve never met? I can’t.
Look, it’ll be hard to do. You’ll be a little nervy and maybe awkward, but saddle up partner, because conventions are all about talking and making connections. You’ll get through it and come out better for having done so. They’re just people, after all.
Adds Perspective To Your Daily Life
Whether you’re attending or running a convention, it’s pretty safe to say it’s not a normal occurrence (unless you run events for a living, in which case, shhh). Being outside of your “normal” does a number of things with net positive results:
First, you might miss your normal. Yes, bills, kids and responsibilities, oh my. All of it. Sometimes when we’re in the middle of our seemingly chaotic lives we take what we have for granted because we’re frustrated, stressed out and tired. But the moment we get away and can see what we’re missing from afar, the important things in life are suddenly much clearer.
Second, getting out of your routine can get the creative juices flowing. Maybe you suddenly solve a problem because you look at it from a different angle. Or you meet somebody and have a really interesting conversation, which later on sparks an awesome idea. The point is when you’re in a routine, you know how your day is going to go. But once in awhile, introducing a variable into the equation can be very productive.
If you’re thinking about hosting or attending a conference, we hope this makes your decision easier. And if you’ve recently attended a conference, tell us about your experience on Twitter or Facebook.