My Wander Exercise

Just before a vacation to the mountains, my coach suggested that I do a "wander" exercise while I was out in the wilderness.

Here's roughly how it worked.

To begin, you head to the outdoors. Go for a walk or a hike by yourself, and go without an agenda or timeframe. It's not meant to be a strenuous endeavor. Just get outside.

Then, you pause when you get to a spot that calls to you. This could be a tree, a vista, a lake, a rock, the beach, the ocean, or some other part of your surroundings. Don't try to find the perfect spot. When you find the place, consciously cross over to greet the place/object (aka friend) as if you are stepping over or crossing a threshold. Be very deliberate and mindful about this. It's as if you are entering into a sacred space. Once you cross the threshold, you will want to greet the object, like: "Hello, beautiful lake. I'm drawn to your beauty and your wonderful blue/green colors." (This sounds corny, I know, but do it.)

You don't have to plan or prepare anything. The idea is that you pick a point in your life--it could be the last month, last 12 months, the last 5 years, your entire life, or whatever. Once you choose your starting point, you just begin talking openly (out loud!) to your new friend about whatever is on your mind about that time in your life. You can share anything and everything: Ups and downs. Fears and joys. Disappointments. Milestones. You should try to talk for at least 45 minutes, an hour, or all day. You can sit or you can also walk and talk if there's space to do that, but just be conscious about the beginning and ending. I was out there for about an hour.

When I did my wander walk, I picked the last four years which is about when I started Reaction Commerce. If you feel pressure or at a loss for words, you can pause and close your eyes and meditate. When it feels right, begin talking out loud again. Stop whenever you feel complete or finished. There's no right or wrong with this exercise.

Finally, at the end, say a few words of thanks to your surroundings and to your friend. And then, again, deliberately cross back over the threshold where you started (path, marker, whatever), as if you are leaving that space behind you. And that's it.

At times it felt weird and forced, but it has stuck with me. There were long periods of silence during my wander. It was cathartic and opening in ways that weren't obvious to me at the time. I doubt I could articulate why it was so profound, and I kinda think that's the point.

Here's a great article on the benefits of solitude. This line stood out to me:

Our culture leans so sharply toward the social that those who wander into the wild are lucky if they’re only considered weird.


Sara Hicks

Sara is the Co-Founder and CEO of Reaction Commerce. Her skills span product management, team building, user experience, operations and strategy in ecommerce, advertising, hosting and marketplaces.


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