When I decided to improve my travel life by changing the people I hung out with, I started to spend more time with Oprah.
I went to see her on tour and she said something that resonated with me.
“What you focus your attention on gets better.”
Just think about stuff and you’ll get it?
Well, yeah. Here’s what the scientists say.
What Is The Reticular Activating System?
The reticular activating system is a fancy term with an easy meaning. Let’s call it RAS for short.
Every minute our brain has an enormous amount of information to process.
When you need to pay attention to something, the reticular activating system alerts your brain.
Imagine you’re walking on a cobbled street in Seville. Your brain could focus on so many things. The smell of freshly baked bread, the sound of the bell as you open the door, the birds pecking at breadcrumbs on the sidewalk, the taste of the churro you’re eating. You’re noticing hundreds of details, many of which you never pay attention to.
As soon as you leave the bakery, you start forgetting information you don’t need any more like the address of the bakery, the printed animals on the curtains, the framed prints on the wall, the baker’s name.
But, let’s imagine you’re an artist.
You would have noticed the artwork, taken some time to compare it to other pieces you’ve seen and recall it for years to come.
The RAS makes sure you notice what is important to you.
And it knows what’s important from your thoughts.
How Do You Set Your Reticular Activating System?
Your brain takes note of every thought. And if you think about something often enough, your brain labels it as important.
Whenever your brain notices something important to you, it brings it to your attention.
Your RAS is the reason when you buy a car or change your hairstyle, it seems like everyone copies you! Because you’re looking at and thinking about your car and hair more frequently, your brain alerts you to that car or hairstyle – where before you wouldn’t have noticed.
When you set your RAS to alert you about travel, you notice more travel-related discussions, activities and opportunities.
Set Your RAS With An Online Travel Vision Board
I’ve written about how to create a travel vision board to hang in your home as a reminder of your goals. What I realize is that I’m looking at my phone and computer screen so often that it only makes sense to put my goals there as well.
Sure I could take a picture of my board, but creating a digital travel vision board is more fun!
01 | Goal Setting
One of my favorite quotes is about reaching a far destination by taking one step after another. It’s such a good reminder that if you are persistent you can reach any goal. It’s also a reminder to be intentional in what you do.
If you have a goal destination, your steps should point towards that goal. If you are moving in other directions, it will take you longer to arrive at your dream destination – if you arrive there at all!
The first step to a successful travel vision board is to decide exactly what you are creating this board for. Is it to see more destinations, have longer travel, find unique experiences? Is it a combination of them all?
Think about your travel goals. Don’t sell yourself short by thinking too small. Your dreams should excite you or they aren’t big enough.
Once you know what your goals are, you can start planning the steps to get there.
02 | Brainstorm Time
This part is super important because your brain will focus on the items you choose until you tell it to stop.
Think of bucket list locations that you’ve been craving or the travel lifestyle you yearn for or the travel group you want to join. Each picture on your travel vision board should be a visual roadmap to get you closer to your goals.
Take your time daydreaming and writing your wants. If you have a journal, write your goals there so you can look back on your accomplishments long into the future.
03 | Picture Search
Once you’ve written your goals, look online to find pictures that illustrate what you want.
Google search for pictures of people, destinations and experiences that depict your goal. If your friends are having amazing travel experiences, use their pictures too! Find inspiration in various places.
After you download the photos to your phone or computer, we’re ready for the next step.
04 | Create Your Online Travel Vision Board
If you’re on your phone, use an app like Picsart to create a collage of your downloaded pictures.
If you’re on the computer, there are a free, online picture editors and collage creators like Fotor and PicMonkey.
Here’s a digital travel vision board I created using PicMonkey:
Aren’t those pictures awesome? Those are members of the travel group I’m a part of. This travel group is a source of constant motivation to get out there and live it up!
Once your photo is created, download it.
You could also store photos in an online photo album on Facebook. This makes it easy to share your dreams and accomplishments with friends.
Another good place to store pictures from your online travel vision board is on Pinterest. Pinterest has a simple process to create a board, add your photos or use photos from others on Pinterest.
When choosing places to store your pictures, pick places you visit often.
05 | Post Your Travel Vision Board
If you want to show your brain that the pictures on your vision board are important, you have to see and think about them often.
Add your vision board to sites you visit frequently. For example, use it as your Facebook and Twitter banners. Save it as your computer and phone screen saver.
You can even print your travel vision board and put it on places like your refrigerator door, bathroom mirror and car dashboard.
Once your digital travel vision board is in place, you will start hearing people talk about travel opportunities or locations similar to the ones you’re interested in. You will notice travel deals to these locations or meet people who’ve visited your bucket list cities.
Putting your vision board in places where you’ll look at it often is the necessary ingredient in this secret formula for more travel.
As soon as you start focusing on something else, your attention will go elsewhere. To keep your RAS tuned into travel, make sure you are looking and thinking about your board regularly.
It doesn’t take long to create your travel vision board, but the results are long-lasting.
A little over a year ago, I wrote about creating travel vision boards and the law of attraction. These are similar ways of creating the travel life you want using brain power. Since writing those posts and adding these practices to my daily routine, I’ve had more travel invitations than I could accept! My travel experiences are better and my travel “luck” has increased. Pledge to leave your vision board as your screen saver for a year and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be in making your travel dreams come true. See you out there!