This is a guest post from the inspiring Jane from My Five Acres.
You want to spend more time doing what you love.
You want to build your life around the thing that makes you jump out of bed in the morning with excitement.
The only problem is, you don't know what that thing is.
It seems so easy for other people. But for you, figuring out where your skills and passions meet to create real value for others (such that they’ll actually pay you for it) has been a total nightmare, right?
I know exactly how you feel.
Before I quit my job, I was working for The Man in corporate America. I hated being a cog in a giant machine where everyone around me was focused on climbing the corporate ladder, working ridiculous hours and selling their souls for a tiny piece of the pie.
I wanted to be my own boss and start my own thing but I had no idea what that was.
None of my skills seemed to be the right skill – the skill that I could build a business around and actually get paid to do.
It’s now three years later and I'm doing work I love every single day, on my own terms, for myself. I’m not rich yet, but I'm happy and doing work that makes an impact.
So, what changed? How did I go from no idea to being fully unsettled?
And more importantly…
How can you use what I learned to not only find your own impactful idea, but discover the courage and confidence to make it a reality?
I stumbled across the secret of finding my profitable idea when I wasn’t looking for it. I had all but given up on ever leading a fulfilling career. So I quit trying to find my calling and ran away.
Or rather, I cycled away. My trip lasted almost two years and I cycled 16,000 km through 22 countries. I soaked up new experiences, faced new challenges, and learned something new about the world and myself.
Eventually, all this learning and growth helped me uncover that sweet spot between passion and profit.
Travel cleared everything up for me. You don’t have to quit your day job yet, and you don’t have to cycle 16,000 km through 22 countries to use travel to find your sweet spot. Here are 9 ways travel can help you find career clarity.
1. Travel Makes You OK with Uncertainty
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau
Plans rarely unfold as they’re supposed to when you travel. Your plane is delayed. The train you were going to catch doesn't exist. The Louvre is closed the day you decide to visit. These snafus provide tools to find creative solutions for problems. Problems become part of the experience, enriching your journey. Uncertainty becomes normal, which gives you the confidence to unsettle before you feel ready. (Spoiler Alert: You'll never feel ready!)
And guess what is practically synonymous with uncertainty?
Entrepreneurship. There are no regular paychecks, no paid vacation days, and no guarantees. Travel helps you adjust to living with daily uncertainty without wanting to throw in the towel every time something goes wrong.
2. Travel Gets You Off of Life's Treadmill
“When I was not travelling, life was a usual rat-race. I didn’t know where I was going. I was clueless about my own ambition in life. Travel has given me a clear direction and purpose.”– Renuka, Writer & Photographer
Let's be honest. Normal life is like pinball. You bounce around from one thing to the next and just when you think you're going to get a break… BOING… something unexpected rockets you backward.
How are you supposed to sit down for some deep self-reflection when you're being blasted around?
Answer: you can't. You need to break free from pinball machine. Travel can be your ticket out of the never-ending demands of normal life. It creates distance and space from the day-to-day grind so you have a chance to focus on your future.
3. Travel Lets You Do Nothing
“It's very important for inspiration to go elsewhere: to move away from the city into pastoral settings, and to make space for meditation.” – Isaac Julien, Artist
Part of the beauty of travel is that you get to go at your own pace. Even a weekend road trip or a day hike can change the rhythms of your body and give you a chance to let your desires bubble to the surface.
According to Psychology Professor Art Markman, when you’re problem-solving, your mind pushes certain memories and experiences into the foreground and other memories are suppressed.
“Once a memory has been inhibited, it has a hard time reaching your awareness, even if the information from that memory might be crucial for solving a problem. When you walk away from a problem and think about something else, your memory resets. If your thoughts return to the problem after a pause, those other memories now have a chance to influence your thinking.”
Travel can be the ultimate reset button for your mind, allowing old memories and desires that you had completely forgotten about arise, helping you find the solution to the next steps in your life.
4. Travel Can Uncover Your Hidden Desires
“When we get out of the glass bottles of our own ego, and when we escape like squirrels from turning in the cages of our personality and get into the forest again… Cool, unlying life will rush in, and passion will make our bodies taut with power.” – D. H. Lawrence
Travel exposes us to new experiences. It's like switching life from grey to technicolor. On my trip, I learned something new every day.
These novel inputs create changes in your brain resulting in new, surprising output. Fast Company explains it like this:
“New insights come from new people and new environments — any circumstance in which the brain has a hard time predicting what will happen next.”
The new, unexpected circumstances travel throws in front of you could ignite a hidden passion you didn't know you had.
You might already know about Auschwitz, but it doesn't seem real until you see the hard wooden bunks where prisoners slept.
You know the Great Wall of China can be seen from space, but until you climb it and see it snaking off into the distance you have no idea of the awe it can inspire.
You know people live in poverty, but until you see exactly what poverty means, those people don’t seem real.
These palpable experiences can open a new world inside of you. Without warning, you might feel called to help people seek peace and equality, or to create unimaginable buildings of your own, to teach history or art, or to improve the lives of those in need.
5. Travel Reminds You That Your Career Options Are Endless
Living in LA (back when I was a corporate stooge) my choices were constricted. I thought I either had to either be a corporate or freelance designer – neither of which I wanted to do. The people we met travelling reminded me that I could choose from thousands of careers.
We met a guy in a village in Poland who ran a hipster bar selling craft beer. In a nation of lager drinkers, he went out on a limb and started a unique business.
In Slovenia, we met a New Zealander who had planted a vineyard. It would be years until his grapes were ready to produce the fine wine he dreamed of making, but he did it anyway.
We stayed in a hostel in China that two young women had opened. They saved their money, rented an apartment, bought some bunk beds and started their business.
Business Philosopher Jim Rohn famously said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Spending time surrounded by unconventional people, who had taken their talents and their passions and jumped in with both feet, inspired me to think creatively and think big – and to feel confident that if they could do it, I could too.
6. Travel Reveals What You Love
After travelling for a while, I realized I was bored pretending to be interested in art galleries, but wandering city streets and tasting weird foods from street-side stalls was always thrilling.
I wrote a blog post every day, and I never got sick of writing. This was a clear sign to me that writing should be a part of my future.
I've met people who couldn't pass a modern art museum without going in. My husband cannot enter a new city without seeking out the best speciality coffee. Some people love wandering in graveyards, while others need to seek out local crafts, and still others can't wait to go for a run.
Travel reveals just what you need to do every day to be happy and what you can happily never do again. Once you know those two things, you can start to build a business around them.
7. Travel Lowers Your Standards
“On the road, you learn just how little stuff you actually need. You’ll realize that all that crap they sell at the mall is pretty useless in leading a truly happy life.” – Nomadic Matt
I know “lowering your standards” may not sound that great, but hear me out.
We are conditioned to expect a minimum standard of comfort. In Western culture, our minimum levels are inflated. We “need” smart phones, PVR, 37 pairs of shoes, a car, a house, meals out, and $50 face cream. We’re suffering from group amnesia – we’ve all forgotten that people get along happily with less.
When you travel, you see people live in all kinds of circumstances: in a tiny apartment in Budapest; in a bamboo hut on a mountain in Laos; on a boat in the Mediterranean; in a dilapidated farmhouse deep in the Hungarian countryside.
You might just discover that you're fine sleeping in a tent or a tiny hotel room with a backpack to your name.
Once you understand that happiness is not related to the size of your house or gadget collection, you understand that you need to earn far less than you once thought, making it easier to leave the security of your corporate job.
8. Travel Makes You Face Your Fears
We all have fears. Sometimes they shout so loud we can't hear anything else
Travel has a way of throwing your fears in your face and making you kick them to the curb.
I've had to deal with giant lizards, killer wasps, and spiders the size of my hand. I've argued with strangers in foreign languages and bargained for everything from fruit to accommodations. I've biked in the dark down a mountain and fixed a flat tire on the side of a traffic-choked highway.
Having done all that, my fears about making enough money or saying something stupid on social media seem far less daunting. If I can face a monster cockroach in the bathroom sink, I can do anything!
Travel will show you that you can too.
You don’t have to be leaving on a trip tomorrow to get started.
The “Use Travel to Get Clear on Your Career” worksheet shows you how to use past trips and your dreams of future trips to unlock your hidden talents and passions.
About Jane: Hey, I'm Jane. Together with my husband Stephen, we use the lessons we’ve learned from travel and yoga to help people find the courage and inspiration to fight for their dream lives. Visit us to find out more.]]>