As per the usual protocol, today’s essay is about travel — but it’s also about choices, because your choices will take you where you want to go.
Last week I asked about Your One Place. This site attracts a lot of diverse people, including some who don’t travel much at all. But my theory was that even the non-travelers have somewhere in the world they’d like to see before they die.
I think I was on to something. Here are some of the answers readers shared:
Matthew: Island hopping on a sailboat
Daniel: The moon (or Ladakh in northern India)
Dwight: Bicycle tour of North America for a year
Coral: Macchu Pichu, Peru
Mike: England, Tuscany and Sitges (Spain)
Tee: Any of the northern fjords of Iceland
PizzaDream: Greece on a Mediterranean cruise
Kiri: somewhere in Asia, maybe southern China
Jen: South America, or maybe the Trans Siberian Railroad
Frugal Bachelor, Graham, and JKG: Antarctica
The Wyman: Australia
Jody: The moon
NewWorldYankee: Mauritius and France
Katherine: Lake Victoria
Mogs: Socotra, Yemen
Linnea: Florence, Italy
Robyn: Egypt, and after that, Pompeii and Herculaneum
Chris N.: Alaska
Crystal: Buddhist statue tour of Asia
Others sent emails: Chile, the train from Moscow to Beijing, “somewhere in Africa,” Lithuania, more votes for Alaska, etc.
My take: all good ideas. Nice job, everyone. I am not one to hold anyone back from heading off somewhere, and I heartily endorse anyone going out of their comfort zone at any time. Here’s wishing you good luck with the $2 savings funds and bon voyage.
BUT… before we all pack up, I have to rain on the parade a little.
Sorry about this, but it will be worth it in the end. The thing is, I learned a long time ago that everyone has a dream, but most people never take action on it.
This is true with travel, work, life – pretty much anything. Everyone has a long list of things they’d like to do or places they’d like to go, but for most of them, the list remains a list.
What’s wrong with dreaming? Nothing, at least by itself. If all you want to do is dream, then dream away.
If there’s a problem, it’s that many of us want more than the dream. We actually want to go to the one place on our list. Accomplishing this, or any goal, is not usually that difficult, but it won’t happen by itself.
At some point you’ll have to make some choices. The choice of giving up $2 a day doesn’t seem that much, but sooner or later, you’ll probably want the money for something else. You’ll get busy, like everyone does, and time will go by without any progress towards your goal.
The Dream and the Realization
I started a limited consulting service recently. I only do two sessions a week, and I don’t schedule anyone who I don’t think is a good fit. This decision comes from my own healthy paranoia that I want to make sure I can really provide good value to someone who pays me.
As I was talking with Sike the other day (just like “Mike”, but with an ‘s’) I realized that my motivation for doing this was to help people avoid getting stuck between the dream and the realization. Sike is a very motivated young guy (just 23 years old) who is worried about doing what everyone expects him to do next year when he finishes college. His parents have one idea about his future and he has a completely different one. It sounds like he’ll be just fine.
After talking with Sike, I went out to have drinks with Dave and Breanne, AONC readers and new friends who happen to live in my Seattle neighborhood. They talked about their own choices and how their perspective had shifted over the past year. Dave was on track to be a CFO in corporate America when they decided to quit their jobs and travel through Latin America for six months. Coming back to the States recently for an indefinite time, Breanne said they felt conflicted over returning to “the American dream” after having learned so much more about the world.
I told them the same thing I told Sike: it’s probably a good sign that you’re concerned about that. When you feel no tension over living an unremarkably average life, that’s when you should worry.
As I said, turning your dream into a goal is not necessarily difficult, but you will have to make some hard choices at some point.
Back to Your One Place
If you played along and selected a place (it’s not too late), you’re going to need to make an effort to keep it in your mind over the next three years or however long it takes you to get there. Your goal doesn’t need to be constantly in focus, but it needs to at least be in your peripheral vision.
By the way, you don’t owe it to me or anyone else to do this. You do, however, owe it to yourself.
Many will dream. A few will go.
Which group are you in?