The Intentional Commuter: Question Your Commute

Picture of a road and question mark
Photo by Milos Milosevic

It’s something that may cost you 230 hours and $10,000 this year; it has profound effects on your body and your mind…and if you are like most people, it is something you do without even thinking.

It’s time to question your commute.

Intentional commuting is the recognition that we are responsible for our time and our actions and that we can improve our lives just by questioning them. I’m not saying you have to change–it’s not about making a different choice, but making an intentional choice.

The Power of Intentional Commuting: An Example

You may drive a car to work because, well, that’s what your parents did, that‘s what your coworkers do, that’s what you have always done. You never chose to drive, it just happened.

How unempowering. No wonder you have road rage — you’re living with the consequences of a choice you didn’t make.

Recognizing that you are doing something you never chose, you go through the decision-making process and come to the conclusion that, for various reasons, driving to work is the best choice for you. In this example, your actions did not change (you are still driving), but now it is a choice you have consciously made. You are empowered and aware; your choice makes you strong.

Now that you have chosen to drive, you can choose how you drive: what route will work best for you (today I’ll take the scenic route); what atmosphere you want in your vehicle (music, audiobook, podcast, silence); and most of all, how you feel about your commute (traffic was bad today, but I am confident that driving was the right choice; the weather was terrible, but driving is my choice and I know why).

Once a choice is made, it may not be made forever…circumstances change, and when they do you have another opportunity for choice. You took transit when you were an hourly worker living in an apartment near the train station. Now you have a salary and kids; does it still make sense?

What Are Your Options?

A powered paraglider
Have you considered this option? Photo by Paul Anthem.

I had a coworker who was considering how to get from his rural farm property to the campus of a large software company at which he was interviewing. It wasn’t far, but because of traffic and bottlenecks, the commute would have taken an hour each way. His solution to the commuting question was to get a powered parachute. Was it practical? I don’t know (he ultimately decided to get work closer to home), but it was certainly thinking outside of the box.

Some (more common) ways to for getting to work are:

  • Drive your car – no explanation needed
  • Ride a bicycle – that’s what this site is all about
  • Take transit – ride the bus, train, or ferry
  • Carpool – take turns driving or pay some of the expenses of a coworker or someone who works in the same area
  • Vanpool – many communities and companies provide vans to groups of commuters
  • Walk – by far the simplest and least expensive commute if you live less than a couple of miles
  • Work from Home – a growing number of employers are permitting and even encouraging telecommuting

Question Your Commute…Today

You will spend thousands of hours commuting over the course of your career. Take one hour today to think about options, do some research, and then make a plan to try something different for a week.

There’s very little risk (unless you go the parachute route): taking transit for a week may cost you $25, you can borrow a bike from a neighbor if you don’t have one, you may be able to try out carpooling by bumming a ride from a nearby coworker.  Your decision need not be permanent and you can always go back to what you were doing.

Trying something different will give you a taste of the power of intentional commuting.

Question: Have you ever experimented with a different commute? What was your experience?

One thought on “The Intentional Commuter: Question Your Commute”

  1. You are entirely right. A small change can open yourself up to a hidden talent or hobby. This was a great article I will be using alot of similar ideas to challange my the other students I am presenting to in my class. Thank you for putting light on a topic alot of people dont actualy notice.

    Jordan Labelle

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