How do we bring the feeling of being on vacation to our everyday lives? In today’s episode, I’m reflecting on the research and systems that went into making me feel truly present on our recent vacation. Plus, I’m diving into why it is so essential for our creativity to cultivate a relaxed state of mind.
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REVIEW THE SHOW NOTES
Reflection on our most recent vacation (1:47)
I want this podcast episode to do two things (4:29)
Setting myself up for success (5:09)
The creative entrepreneur brain (13:25)
Dr. Andrew Huberman and non-sleep deep rest (19:17)
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Dr. Andrew Huberman
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Business Instagram: @GETFOCUSEDPHOTOGRAPHERS
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Hey, photographer friends welcome to the focus photographers podcast where photographers gather. I’m your host, Dan Moyer. Before we get into today’s episode, I want to share a quick resource that I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback on. And a lot of people have been saying that it’s been really helpful for them. I am not a financial guru. I’m not a CPA, but I am somebody who had a ridiculous amount of debt not that long ago, and have put systems and boundaries in place to be able to pay off over $70,000 of that debt in the past couple years. And this resource is basically how I am taking control of my finances, how my wife and I are working together, how we’re paying things off how we’re setting money aside for our kids college, how we still have fun, and to go on vacation, and all that kind of stuff. And that’s what this financial focused roadmap does. So if you go to focus photographers.com slash f f is in finance, focused, focus, photographers.com slash F F, you can download that resource there and take a look at how you can get out of debt, how you can take control of your money, and how you can just get organized and feel more confident in your money decisions. Alright, let’s get to the show.
So this is always fun for me, because I know that obviously episodes have been coming out for the last couple of weeks. But it’s been it’s been several weeks since I’ve gotten to record anything, anything new. And it’s just exciting to be back here and being able to put some thoughts out and, and feel like rejuvenated and excited about being behind this microphone. I think a big part of that is because we got back from vacation recently. And that’s what this episode is really is about is about rest and and some of the things that I learned on this vacation, we pretty much take the same vacation every single year, we go down to basically just below Myrtle Beach. And we spent two weeks there this year, through some very fortunate and unfortunate circumstances, we got to go for three weeks. And it was great. I mean, every vacation is great, right? Like, but this one fell awesome in more ways than one. You know, I think, you know, we got to be there for three weeks, which is one of the reasons that was awesome. But every day was pretty much the same.
We’d go to the beach in the morning, and then my twins still nap. So we’d come back from the beach, and you know, we’d have lunch and put them down for naps. And then the afternoon we’d go back to the beach, or we’d go play mini golf or get ice cream. Or we’d walk over to see these turtles that are by this, this one bridge. And that’s pretty much it. And then the kids would go to sleep. And we would just like hanging out, maybe we’d go for a walk or we’d play card games or read or watch the Phillies or something like that, right. What’s interesting about this year is that more than any other year, I feel like I had so much clarity, I you know, I feel so rested. And I, you know, felt like there was so much insight that I got I had so many ideas, I got insight on so many of the ideas that I had during that time. I mean, you know, I did all that. But I also got to have a ton of fun with my kids like they turned into fishes this year, the last couple years, they were you know, hesitant about the water and the ocean, the waves and all that stuff. But they were just like fishes, all they want to do is go in the water. And you know, I’m super tan. That’s exciting. You know, Mesa some headway on a new project that I was working on, I spent so much time with my wife and we talked a lot. We drove down. So we got all that talking time was the beach each day, right? Like, it’s just like, it was just so great. And I kept wondering like, like, why my normal times at home or like this? Or maybe it’s like, maybe a better question is how do I cultivate the same or similar feeling? Even in small bursts at home, right? Because obviously, I can’t take a three week vacation at home or I can’t take the same amount of time off as when I’m at home.
But you know, this vacation. Like I say what wasn’t really that much different from my home life where, you know, the kids are asking for snacks, they want to do something they want to be entertained and more, except that we were just at the beach. So, you know, midway through being down there, I started just thinking like how do I continue to feel this relaxed? How do I feel like, you know, all my bases are covered in my business in my personal life? How do I continue to feel inspired and rested and keep moving towards a better me right? Like, how do I keep getting so much done? How do I keep spending so much time with my family? How Does it still feel meaningful? Why was I able to get so much done? It feels so clear on this vacation like because I like like I said it’s not all that different. So you know that all that was selected or the preamble to what this podcast is, which is I want this podcast to do two things, this episode to do two things. One is that I did some different things this year that really set me up to have a great vacation, and I think had major unintended benefits. And then after that I want to share you know where I’m going from here now that I’m back based on some of the research that I did on you know, while I was feeling the way I was feeling on vacation And, and how to carry that home both from sort of, you know, a neuroscience standpoint about creativity and all that kind of stuff. And like I said, the research and science part of it, the person on the personal side of it, I did a bunch of different things this year leading up to this vacation, I think, set me up for success. There are three, three really big ones that I did that had really, like I said, unintended consequences, and positive consequences leading up to this vacation I pretty much the month before it, I pretty much did these three things. One is that if you’ve ever read the book, effortless by Greg McKee, and he shares this idea of a done for the day list, where he basically asked himself these two questions.
If I complete everything on this list, will it leave me feeling satisfied by the end of the day? The second one is, is there another important task that will haunt me all night if I don’t get to it? So I did is leading up to the vacation, I created this massive done before vacation list, I asked myself, you know, those questions of same ones. And if it didn’t meet that criteria, it just didn’t go on that list. And I believed, I like jammed it into my mind that I could, I could wait until it got back, right that that task could wait, that person could wait, whatever, that was the big thing. So I just captured everything on this whole entire list, as I was, you know, leading up to it, and I was trying to check things off. And there was, it was massive things like I had seven, three or four weddings to get finished before we went out. I had, you know, invoices to send out for commercial work, I had, you know, payment to my second photographer, I just had some small retouching to do, I had to send cards to a second photographers like all just these little tiny things, right? kid stuff, whatever. So I did all that. And that was the major, the major first step I did was just this catch all done before vacation list. And that’s going to come up again in a minute. The second thing and this is probably the hugest thing that I did is I didn’t take any work on vacation with me. And that was really difficult because being gone for weeks. You you want to get ahead, you want to get stuff done, I really have to give a big shout out to some of my friends, Joe, Matt and Colin who are like little dad, group, Dad photographers, because they really pushed me to not take work with me. I was saying, I was coming up with all sorts of like, like I was working against myself, I was getting, you know, making these concessions with myself saying, oh, you know, like,
I’ll just get this wedding done. And I can bring that one along. And it’s not going to take that long because I’m send it to after shoot or whatever. And they were like no man like just you have this week you can do this wedding and this week that you have AI to do this. You can do this wedding and this week, and you can just get it done. And I was like, I don’t think I could I don’t think I could and they just kept hammering on it. And they’re like, you can get this done. Like, why is this taking you so long, and I got a insane amount of work done beforehand. And it really made me profoundly present with my family during that time. Like I said, like I pushed and go weddings turn around so fast. And I didn’t bring any calling with me. I didn’t bring any weddings to release while I was down there. Basically, that got to the point where, you know, I knew that my turnaround time was going to for the wedding that I was working on was going to be after it was due after I got back from vacation. So that was the cut off. I was like if it’s due before this date or while I was on vacation, I have to get it done beforehand. And you know, like other things like I didn’t, I didn’t schedule any meetings while I was down there didn’t schedule any phone calls. Because all those things would pull me away out of being present with my family. So this year, I like I said, I really said no. And I even one of the things I did. I had a wedding on the Friday before we left. So we left Saturday morning and had a wedding the day before. And it was a 12 hour wedding. So it was long. You know, I finished at 11. And all all day I was telling myself, I’m prepared to stay up late to finish the things I want on my list. But in line with not bringing it at work like like I needed to download all the photos, I needed to pick the sneak peeks edit them, send them to my phone, like all those things. And I was crossing these things off the list. And I ended up staying up until 3am The night before we left for vacation, which I realized the irony of this episode being titled about you know, rest and all that stuff, and then staying up at 3am.
But it was a short term hustle for a long term gain. But I really drew this hard line in the sand about not taking anything with me. And the last part of it was I really went back and forth on emails because emails are a slippery slope where if you get a new inquiry and you want to hop on the phone with them or whatever, like it’s just so Oh, I’m just gonna fire off one email. I’m gonna fire off this other email here there. And before you know it, you’ve spent an hour of this time that I’m supposed to be President, my family’s supposed to be down there, you know, playing in the sand with my kids are in the water. And this you know, 10 minutes of answering an email turns into an hour or, and I’m notorious for that I’m not good at that. So I knew that the slippery slope would be don’t do anything, right? Or that I needed to create some boundaries around around emails. And I basically came up with the boundaries were that I put up an auto responder, the morning, we left and it basically just said that I’d be out of office for these specific dates. And it said that I was specifically taking a much needed vacation with my family, and then it’d be periodically checking my email, but I’m on this vacation with my family, and I want to be present with them, and to not expect anything from me in return. Now, that was what the auto responder said. But I said, Okay, you know, money, I still need to make money. And the things that make me money are new leads. So I said, I will only respond to new leads. So I would check my email, and I came up with basically, two, two decisions that I would have to make, if I looked at an email, the most I could do was to read it and decide if it was a priority or not. And then, if it was a priority, I would just want I didn’t really think there would be anything that was a priority. And if the only priority thing that I would, that I accepted that I was respond to is a new lead, because a new lead leads to more money, and I want to keep that flow coming into my business.
So priority was of his priority. If it’s a new lead, or something that actually might be, you know, a pretty significant thing for me to need to respond to respond to it. Other than that, I was going to let the email responder do the heavy lifting for me, I was just going to let it go until I got back in August. And and then people would hear from me. And surprisingly, there was no priority things. I think we can split hairs here. But I really think that there’s not many things that are super priority. For us as, as photographers, the only thing that I could think of that if I really wanted to move out of my vacation mode to do something was if maybe there was a death in one of my clients, families or something like that. And they needed a photograph of somebody that I took at the wedding or something like that, and they wanted a photo for me or the file. That’s about the only thing I could think that was like a real priority. Everything else like this is not brain surgery here. And I think that, you know, with that perspective going forward, it was you know, my couples can wait. And I let everybody know that everybody that needed something from me knew that I was going on vacation, you know, all my couples who, who I’d release galleries to all knew I was go on vacation, you know, all my current clients, even for next year, all knew I was going on vacation. So I really set myself up to just give my brain a break. So those things really helped me to be present while I was down there. And while I can’t turn off my email and do nothing for three weeks at home, I think there’s ways of maximizing rest so that we can have these moments of inspiration.
And, and that’s, you know, where I really look towards, you know, the science and research and what are people who, you know, are looking at resting creativity and ideas and such, what are they saying about like, how do you, you know, take that vacation mode home? Or how do you make the most of your, of your time at home when when we feel so overloaded? And how do you get space to allow your brain to have a break. And in this next part, it’s about sort of like bringing this stuff home. I think one of the reasons that so many of us are overloaded is because our brains are different than ours. I think creative entrepreneurs are our we just process things differently. And I’ve spoken with so many photographer, business owners who say their brains are always on they’re constantly feeling like they should be working on something, or working on something in their business, yet they want to be present with their families and with themselves, but they just feel like this. I don’t know, like, there’s all this stuff coming at them from all these different areas, and they’re not sure how to how to find those, you know, places of rest. And I think that social media surely doesn’t help right? Because you see all of these posts on social media and you’ll see you want to save it and come back to it. And it’s awesome. And and then you end up missing it and and like trying to find it and then it’s hard to find again and you’re like oh, I have I just had this one note. It was really good. I think you know, because so many are overloaded.
We need to be able to manage our, you know, the barrage of information coming at us. And while I was down there on vacation, this you know, you know, a couple weeks ago, I read this book called building a second brain by Thiago forte and it is a system for organizing your digital life. And I think this is one of the things that also helped me is when I can get flustered easily when I have a good idea and I don’t know where to put it that I’ll remember to come back to it later. Right like I’ve gotten notebooks I’ve gotten notes on my phone, but like they just they’re just mishmash and all over the place. And this this book really lays out this system for organizing your life really and organizing it in a digital way. And I think this is one of the things that really helped me while I was down there is because while my brain was on this, like vacation mode, I could, you know, when an idea would pop up, I knew exactly where to put, I knew exactly where to capture it. And it didn’t have to flush it out right, then I didn’t have to think about it, I could just capture it. And I knew exactly where it was because I was falling this system. And I could come back later to take a look at it, and maybe to flush it out a little bit more. Or maybe I was just come back to later and delete it because there wasn’t actually a really great insight. But I started thinking like, okay, so when I’m at home, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been in the shower, or you’re doing the dishes or something. And you have this like spark of a great idea. It’s like this moment of insight where you’re like, Where
the heck did that come from? Right? Worse is yet, like I said, when when you forget the idea because you didn’t have a place to write it down, or come back to it. And I think, I think these like little moments where where these ideas pop up, or like little snippets of like these mini vacations. It’s like when our brain is, is resting or it’s or it’s focused on like a menial task that that like the subconscious mind takes over and sort of looking this up. And there’s this researcher at Harvard named Shelley Carson. And she says like the the subconscious mind works really hard on problems and works really hard to solve on solve problems. And I think, again, for us creatives, we are multitasking on, you know, all these different things.
We’re thinking about our, our business, we’re thinking about photographing, we’re thinking about being creative, or thinking about our families, we think about our mental health, and all these different things. And our minds are working so hard on all these problems, that when you have this like thing in front of you that you can, like focus on, but it takes up very little of your brain power, your mind is free to wander, you know. So these like things can surface and you can plant these new ideas into your subconscious mind. And Shelley Carson, this researcher at Harvard says In other words, a distraction may provide the brake you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution on this like thing that you’re working through, that you’re not coming up with an idea to that’s an effective solution, you can’t come up with an idea right now for it because you’re just so overworked. And if you’re multitasking right now, I need you to come back to me and hear this. I know I’m talking fast. I know I’m going through a whole bunch. It’s just because I’m excited about this.
But here’s the point, a relaxed state of mind, is essential to being creative. So when you’re taking a shower, when you’re going for a drive, when you’re meditating, when you’re taking a freakin nap, all these things are great ways to get some daily rested. They all let our minds get free from clutter and reset. And if you can just find these little ways to distract yourself or little ways to just engage some menial task or, or some little thing like I said, those like taking a shower, going for a drive or meditate or whatever, those things, making it a point to do those things, is going to be massively helpful to give you a relaxed state of mind. But that I think only is paired with the freedom to know that when you have an idea when you have those moments of insight or clarity or whatever, that you have a place to put those ideas to come back to to put them and not have to worry about flushing them out and judging them now. And that’s why I think you need to read that book building a second brain by Thiago forte, I’ll make sure I put a link in the show notes for you. Okay, so we talked about some of the things that I did over the last, you know, leading up to my vacation the boundaries I said and stuff. We talked a little bit about, like sort of bringing it home this idea of having a space to declutter your mind, you know, creating a system using that book, building a second brain by Thiago forte, we talked a little bit about what Shelley Carson, the researcher on creativity from, from Harvard said about, you know, being able to have a distraction to disengage from like the things you’re working on, that allow some of your subconscious to work and bring up some ideas for you.
The last thing I want to share is an actual tool from the Stanford neuroscientist, Dr. Andrew Huberman. I listen to this guy’s podcast all the time. I’m fascinated by him. He seems to be on everybody’s podcast right now. And what I love about him is that it’s all like, what the data about neuroscience or whatever says all the studies, he basically takes all the studies that he reads all the study the meta analysis and all that stuff, and just shares them on his podcast and says, This is what the research this is what the literature says on this subject. And in a podcast I was listening to a couple of weeks ago, three or four weeks ago, I think now on creativity. He was talking about this protocol that he has called non sleep deep rest or an SDR, you can Google this. He, it came up, you know, right away when I started Googling it, he coined the term nonslip deep rest. It basically has its roots in a practice called Yoga Nidra. And it’s a it’s essentially a form of meditation, but I don’t want people to get a like think it’s like woowoo or, or fluffy or something by saying that it’s meditation, because that has its own, you know, connotations that come along with it. And I think Dr. Human did this same thing where he, he, he actually this is exactly what he says. He says, what we’ve done is we’ve stripped out intentions or any kind of verbiage related to what some people might perceive as kind of related to the yoga community, or specific kind of new agey type of techniques, explains Dr. Human, not because we don’t like yoga nidra. But sometimes the complicated language can be a separator, and can discourage people from taking on these protocols that are extremely useful. So an SDR is intentionally generic. I love that I think you can google both. Yoga Nidra has some more intentional intentions and some things that brown it’s a lot more spiritual, I think connected. But I like that this SDR, like he says is intentionally generic. But this is a tool that if you listen to the podcast that I’m going to link in the show notes, it’s a long podcast, but it’s broken down into chapters. Or if you google and SDR, you’re going to see a whole bunch of it, a whole bunch of articles about it, and whatever it is from a Stanford, neuroscientist, and professor. So it’s fascinating. Like it works. And there’s all these articles about how it works and all that kind of stuff.
But it’s essentially a practice that lasts anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes. And it’s based around these like like these three main components spaced around laying still, or very mostly still spaced around breathwork, and a body scan. So if you’ve a body scan is basically like where you close your eyes, you know, so you lay down, you take some deep breaths, you close your eyes, and you do what’s called the base scan, which is like you put your attention on the you know, different parts of your body and you put your attention is all like off from the top of your head scanning down for areas of discomfort or just sensations of you laying on the floor, whatever it is. But the the one that I did was Dr. Huberman actually has this 10 minute long guided SDR that he actually does. And it’s just him talking. And it’s, it’s pretty great. So it’s not like anything with birds chirping or anything like that in the background. But it’s just like him sort of guiding you through this thing. Where you are laying still. You you have like, you know, you’re breathing, and you’re just scanning your body for different sensations. This is the part that like I thought was pretty cool. And he mentioned this in the actual podcast, there was a study done about 20 years ago. And I’m pretty much just paraphrasing this part of this podcast. And there was the first study that was done, that basically, you know, looked at the actual chemical changes in the brain from from these kind of, you know, meditative aspects or whatever. And the study observed a 65% increase in a dopamine release, which like everything about everybody knows of dopamine, like dopamine dumps, as, you know, being so tied to social media and getting these like little hits of dopamine. But it’s a different feeling to get like a dopamine rush from when you’re running, or when you’re doing something fun, or these like meditative aspects. The other thing, and this is like, very sciency talk, I understand it very little.
But I’m putting it here, because I think it’s important to mention like this, you know, study and science stuff. He said that this, in that study, they also measured an increase in theta activity, which are a pattern of brain waves, that’s associated with creativity in and divergent thinking. So you’re like increasing dopamine, increasing these, you know, this, this brain pattern, they said, This tool is so powerful, and he uses it and promotes, you know, promotes this technique, specifically to other people to help them, you know, be more creative and provoke, promote, like, ways of seeing things differently. That’s literally a tool that comes from a neuroscientist. And there’s, you know, plenty more about this in this, you know, these long form podcasts. If you’ve never heard of Dr. Huberman you can just, you know, look him up his podcast is called Huberman lab. And it’s, it’s fascinating, it’s really, really interesting stuff. So I hope that, you know, the, the sciency stuff didn’t turn you off too much. But I think it’s interesting because like, a lot of us, you know, go by feel, and it’s good to know that like, this is a technique that people have, you know, practiced and studied and researched in different groups of people and they have looked deep into and said, No, no, this is what works and if we’re all true Trying to be a little bit better versions of ourselves, we’re trying to be more relaxed, we’re trying to be more present with our family and ourselves. Like any kind of tools that we can come up with that work like this for us,
I think are worth giving a shot. In closing, you know, what I want you to take away from this podcast episode is to give your brain the space to have new ideas, set boundaries for your playtime, be intentional about, you know, the pockets of rest that you have, find a way or create a system or read that book I mentioned, to be able to, when you have these moments of insight to put them in a place where you know that you’re gonna be able to come back to them. So you don’t feel stressed out that you had this idea and then lost it. And you know, now you’re missing it. If you could just remember whatever, you know, this is foundational stuff, give yourself the time you need the space you need. Because not everybody gets to have a vacation, you know, once a year, if we can find ways to have these little mini vacations, or even just take advantage of these little moments throughout the day where we can have a little bit more clarity in our brains. I think we’re all going to get a little bit better for it. So all right, friends, thank you so much for being with me today. Now go get some rest.