A blog post entitled ‘Travel is Terrible for Your Career’ caught my attention a while back.
It wasn’t just the title itself, but who wrote it … A founder of 4 startups and a career coach.
Her brilliant writing and ability to express her well-structured argument wasn’t enough to distract me from the irony and sheer ridiculousness.
More people are free to travel than ever before, and are doing so before college, after college and between jobs. People across all life stages and sociodemographics and are taking career, life and relationship breaks to re-assess, re-imagine and re-align. And they are coming home supersized versions of themselves.
I know because I’ve met them.
A growing body of entrepreneurs and small business owners are embracing a #workfromwhereever and #locationindependent lifestyle that fuels their creativity and entrepreneurial capacity, while they build their business and trust & credibility with their customers and peers simultaneously. Location-freedom carves out more space for them to create.
I know because I follow them and buy the fruits of their imagination.
Oh. And I am one.
And yet it seems that there is still a large and growing body of people who share the same attitude: that travel is something you do in 5 weeks a year and if you dare indulge in it for longer it’ll f*ck your career, and maybe even your LIFE as a result.
The opposite is true.
… and it seems absurd to me that a serial entrepreneur and career coach would say such a thing.
Travel is not moving aimlessly from place to place, staying at the Marriott and reading your kindle by the pool as the career coach suggests. That’s a holiday. You check out of your life for x number of days and you return home refreshed and revitalised, otherwise unchanged, and continue on with life as it was before.
And you could go on holiday for a very, very long time just like that; enjoyable indulgent.
Travel on the other hand has the power to transform you — mentally, emotionally and spiritually — forever. You can never go back to life as it was. Something has shifted, altered, and … evolved. It happens over a week or a lifetime … it’s not about length of time, but quality of immersion.
And before I go further, I have a disclaimer:
I made my first country move at 3 months old and lived in 5 countries before I was 11. I have since lived in 5 countries and I’ve been location independent for a decade.
Travel is my lifestyle, my passion, my oxygen, my stillness and fuels my creative inspiration.
But personal viewpoint aside, here’s the clincher:
Travel can be whatever you need it to be, and on whatever level you need it to be — body, mind and spirit.
Here are some of the ways travel changes us forever.
Travel inspires creativity and inspiration
When you’re far from home turf you can give yourself the freedom — the permission — to try things you wouldn’t consider at home. Mostly because you’re busy being busy, but also because you are who you are. Anonymity abroad gives you the courage to be more daring in your behaviours and choices, and life becomes less scary, … and the more daring you become. You comfort zone expands as you wade deeper — outward and inward — into uncharted terrain, and you become an adventurer in your own life.
Once you’ve done the 2-hr hike at altitude and sat on a rock surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Monarch butterflies in Michoacan Mexico and had a few hours to meditate in awe on the fragility, intelligence and beauty of life, you climb down forever altered. You feel invincible, exhilarated and ready to live larger, dive deeper, and experiment freely.
You are more daring. And likely more creatively disruptive with your thinking and ideas.
Travel enables you to re-invent yourself
When you leave home you side step some of the things that would usually define you. You job, your job title, your commute, and maybe even what you choose to wear. You step out of the round hole and are instantly less pigeon-holeable. Even if you wear the cliched travel clothing like Hector in Hector and the Search for Happiness, you’re out of your uniform. You’ve shrugged off the shackles of your day to day life and shown up raw: more you.
This is less about reinvention and more about re-connection; seeing and experiencing yourself as others see and experience you of the first time. You become acutely aware of what draws people to you, what they instinctively ask you for help and advice about, and what you bring to the conversation — and their life. You notice what you talk about with passion and vigour, subjects about which you have nothing to say because you no longer have to ‘go through the motion’, and people’s instant & evolving response to you.
This is a fast-track to self awareness, and your own personal brand is revealed. When you loop this back into your life, work and career, you put us in touch with the super human version of you.
Travel helps you break unhelpful patterns
Free from established routines you’re able to plug into a new rhythm. Re-defined by the rising and setting of the sun, a new Circadian rhythm or sumptuous cultural rituals, you break with the patterns keeping you stuck, dislodging hibernating passions, ideas and thinking.
Like a record needle stuck in a groove you are looping the the same thoughts & behaviours without you even realising that your stuck in what the German’s call a Teufelskreis. A vicious circle insulating you from expansion. The new sensory stimulation as well as missing ‘conveniences’ and inefficiencies jolt you. You are shocked into becoming unstuck.
Unstuck you absorb the sensory overload with finesse, literally ‘come to your senses’ and dive in. You are re-born. Now you can accelerate in any direction you want.
Travel enables you to create new connections
Everything works different from village to village, town to town, city to city, country to country, continent to continent. You’re in the hot seat, observing different customs, rituals and day to day hustle as both objective observer and super sponge, noticing what flows and what doesn’t, comparing it to home, connecting or disconnecting the dots, and formulating and ideas and visions for new projects and businesses.
You develop a keen eye for detail and your awareness of the world around you shoots through the roof. You have more questions, you follow your curiosities, and you have your switch flicked to ‘always amazed and intrigued’ as you take in every nanosecond and conceivable inch of our planet.
If this is what happens when we travel to a new continent, just imagine when Elon Musk succeeds in colonising Mars. Elon — do it!
Travel fuels your ideas
Ideas are the fallout of feeling creativity inspired, becoming superhuman, escaping the groove and creating new connections, but are catalysed by noticing the problems in the world around you. David Batstone, offered a young child for sex while on holiday in Thailand, founded #NotForSale to solve that problem.
The epicentre of successful entrepreneurship is to solve the problems in the world around us, simple day to day problems in the first world, or larger global problems at such scale they seems insurmountable. Until one person begins to chip away at it, one step at a time while rallying the world around them.
When we travel we see solutions abroad and bring them home, or we see problems abroad and we fix them there. On my travels I met so many 20–40 somethings searching for more meaning and purpose in their life and work, and my solution has evolved into The Freedom Philosophy Classes.
When we travel we can begin to solve the problems we never knew existed, or create solutions for our own problems that we discover are shared by huge tribes of like-minded souls.
Travel fills you with gratitude
You can’t travel without cultivating a deep, philosophical and sincere sense of gratitude. For: life itself, for the body that enables us to experience a 3D reality in this moment, for the abundance we enjoy in areas we never previously thought to be thankful for, for our sense of home [both inward and where we feel like we come from or belong], and the people that surround us every day, loved and not even liked, for the love that they share and the lessons they bring.
Appreciation forces you to show up entirely differently in your day to day.
Where does ‘travel’ begin?
I often think of the great explorers — Drake, Livingston, Columbus, Raleigh, Cabot, and Eriksson [the latter who by the way arrived in North America 500 yrs before Columbus] — and realise that for us, just like them, travel begins when we get on the plane, boat or train, but the adventure begins when we mentally, emotionally and spiritually embrace the journey into the unknown, travel inward with what we find, and come home to share it with every one.
We come back to life, work and careers bringing everything we’ve learned, experienced and become to share it with the world around us.
We bring it into our relationships, entrepreneurial endeavours, and our vision of the future.
Travel, dear career coach, is terrific for your career.
Image: Dariusz Sankowski via Unsplash.com