About four years ago, I was getting ready for my first-ever trip to Asia - to Hong Kong and China for business.
Because I was traveling so far, I had to stay over the weekend. So as a way to keep in touch with my daughters, I came up with a game.
They each gave me a list of 5 things that they wanted a photo of. This provided "focus" for my sightseeing time and was a fun way to spice up my emails.
So, I photographed a chicken, a lot of dogs and even an elephant (I had to cheat on this one - it was on a bag of Indian rice at a grocery store). The only one I couldn't get was a squirrel - apparently there aren't many of them in Hong Kong.
But because I was so aware of everything around me, I saw some other things, too. Like the flower vendors and the way they wrapped their products. And the way people talked to each other on the Star Ferry going to the main island.
And it reminded me of times when I had "a-ha" moments in my career. Times where something just clicked and I realized what I needed to do next - and then saw opportunities all over the place.
One time when I was still in my original science career (see bio), I realized that I really wanted to work more with people, but couldn't see how to make it happen.
Then one day in a conversation with a friend, I realized that all the things I liked to do were really just what sales people do. When I realized that, I immediately thought of the perfect place for me to go - and I was unstuck and on my way.
In Hong Kong, one of the funnest photos I got was of a Chinese "fortune cat" - with one arm raised and beckoning, it is a staple in shops and is believed to bring in money. I had never seen one, so I took a video of one of them moving its arm back and forth at me.
This was my favorite because of an inside joke I share with my daughters about me and cats (they say I'm scared of them, I say I just don't like them and their claws).
But I wouldn't have noticed that cat if I wasn't so aware of all the new things I was experiencing, and if I weren't looking for the photo scavenger hunt items to share with my daughters. I had my girls on my mind everywhere I went on that trip.
What do you notice? And what do you miss?
When you are frustrated, or stuck, you only notice the things you always notice. When you are clear on what you are after, you can see lots of opportunity around every corner.
You are curious, you are open.
So: go somewhere new, go with a purpose, mix it up.