In the words of Zig Ziglar “Are you a Wandering Generality or a Meaningful Specific?”
This is a story about how my life changed and found meaningful specific direction from a simple two word question…. But more importantly, how it can change yours as well.
Change Your Entire Life
Growing up, I was constantly on the move, seeking out adventure and basically just doing what I wanted. However, as many of you know when you’re young, that always doesn’t work out very well in the ‘adult world’. I found myself getting in trouble from time to time and my pursuit of doing what I always wanted to do was constantly repressed. Fast forward right through to my schooling days and not much had changed. I knew I wanted to do a lot after school but I was still very confused and unsure of what I’d be doing in my career, let alone next month or even next week.
And since I hadn’t really found any clear direction at this point, I’d decided to take a solo backpacking trip to Europe for a couple months. Needless to say, it was an eye opening trip and assuredly the greatest experience I’d had in my life up to that point. I later realized that I had gotten bitten by the infamous ‘travel bug’.
Find your True North
Had you crossed my path in the following 6 months after my trip, there’s a good chance you would have heard about the amazing couple of months I spent in Europe. I was excited and passionate about the trip I’d just taken. It was such an amazing experience for me, nothing like I’d had up to that point. Perhaps it was the fact I’d gone by myself which had an even greater impact on me, I’m not sure. All I knew was that I’d want to go again… And soon!
However, like many of us, I got ‘caught up’ with the normal routine… Work, career goals, paying bills, buying a home, a car, etc… Pretty much all those things that keep you distracted from pursuing the things that make you feel really alive.
Nearly 10 long years had passed after that amazing trip and my desire and dreams to travel seemed nothing but a distant goal. One I figured I’d need to shelf for retirement. Can you relate? Further and further I repressed my dream to once again travel overseas for an extended amount of time. Aspirations were dwindling, life was carrying on and the idea to once again go seemed absurd now. After all, I was 30 at this point and it felt foolish to be giving up a successful career and one that was offering me a comfortable lifestyle. It was back to reality…
…. And then, an old friend dropped in town. For the sake of this story, we’ll call him Dylan. We went out for a drink on a random Tuesday night to catch up on old times. You see Dylan had just come back from an amazing stint overseas. In fact, he’d spent nearly half a year traveling. I was envious, jealous, and more or less angry with myself for never having done so myself. His situation just seemed so different than mine. But he knew taking a big trip like he’d just done was something I’d always wanted to do. I’d expressed the desire, voiced my interest in it but it had always died there. After all, I had too much going on!
But he didn’t stop, and then he asked me that all important question that once I answered, had changed my entire life and set me in a new direction. He said, Why Not? Why not go? Why Not do it? What’s stopping you? When I stopped to really think about it, it hit me like a ton of bricks, like someone had just knocked me off my chair! I realized it was my decision, it was I who had shelved my dreams, repressed my ambitions and held myself back!
Never Live With Regrets on What you Didn’t Do with your Life!
The rest, as they as they say is history. I took a year to plan, and eventually had turned in the notice to my job, rented out my place, sold my vehicle and turned what was supposed to be a 6 month trip into a life-long never ending adventure. I flew into Spain and so far have visited 29 countries after touching down on 4 continents… soon to be 5! But during this time, just some of the things I’d experienced had been:
• Spending a weekend living with Mongolians in a Ger Tent
• Seeing the sun rise over the Taj Mahal
• Being stranded in Tibet on a broken down bus
• Riding motorcycles through the mountains of Northern Thailand
• Swimming just a few nautical miles from the Arctic circle in Iceland
• Eating a Snickers Bar at Everest Base Camp
• Riding canoes through crocodile infested waters in Nepal
• Getting hustled in the streets of Morocco
• Traveling 7 straight days on the Trans-Siberian train through Russia’s 6 time zones
• Scuba diving on the northeastern islands of Malaysia
• Landing a serious case of food poisoning in Laos
• Riding a camel through the desert to the Pakistan-Indian border
• Being chased by a pack of stray dogs while on the beaches in Goa, India
• Working and Teaching English to dozens of students in South China
And as amazing as all these experiences had been, best of all, I was lucky enough to have met a person along the way who became my travel companion, best friend, and the love of my life. And she is my constant reminder of how powerful such a simple two word question can be… One that, when answered, can change your entire life. “Why not?”