Advertise your way to paradise


I have earned a living doing some form of computer technical support for 17 years. During that time I have had the opportunity to visit hundreds of offices and observe the images people keep around their desk. Pictures of loved ones, including pets, are the overwhelming favorite – followed by photos from their vacations.

It seems that people choose to remind themselves of connections to others and fun times they have had in the past. And of course there is nothing wrong with that. But let me propose a slight tweak: in addition to reminding yourself of fun times from the past, what would happen if you showed yourself a picture of something fun you’d like to do in the future?

It might be a place you want to go, an activity you’d like to try, or an event you want to attend someday. It could be as big as traveling to another country or as small as trying a new restaurant. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s possible, and you don’t even have to be sure you want to do it.

Some of the ads I’ve made for myself in this category have been for attending Burning Man, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and buying a small RV. The last one has been interesting: I’ve been marketing the idea to myself pretty agressively, and have moved in a few months from assuming it was impossible to afford an RV to selecting the model and having a pretty good idea where I will get the money.

How we got to paradise

The summer before last, I got a week off unexpectedly at a time when my partner and I really needed a vacation. I was too burned out to even figure out where to go, so I asked a friend for advice. She told me about a great place in Hawaii, but doubted we could get reservations on such short notice. Airline reservations were a problem too. The place sounded great, but pulling it off seemed pretty unlikely.

My friend’s description of a beach nearby had been quite compelling, though. She described in great detail long days she and her husband had spent lounging, reading and snorkeling, and I could not imagine anything that would be more regenerative.

So in addition to making inquiries about flights and the condo, I took one more step: I found a picture of that beach on the internet and made 3 copies. I placed the first two on my bulletin boards at work and at home. I printed the third one on a 3×5 index card and carried it in my Hipster PDA.

Each time I looked at one of the photos I noticed feeling a kind of surge about how cool it would be if this vacation actually worked out. As I mentioned in How my own ads made me a blogger, I normally do not look forward to traveling. But oh, that looked like a fine beach!

Two weeks later I was lounging on that beach under a shady tree, sipping iced coffee and reading a novel. In spite of our exhaustion, we had managed to creatively persist with the arrangements until we found a way to make it work. We hung out on that beach every day for a week – reading, napping and snorkeling in the coral. I even swam with a sea turtle one day. It was amazing.

Where do you want to go?

So what do you want to do? Go snowboarding? Take a cruise? Attend a music festival? See the Louvre? Build a Habitat for Humanity house in another country? Whatever it is, Google it to find a picture on a website. Then download and print that picture for your ad.

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