I’m going to be honest with you: when I first started traveling, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. I had too many ideas. I had too many interests, passions and hobbies.
If I could be and do something different each day of the week, I would have (psychologist on Monday, pilot on Tuesday, archeologist on Wednesday, artist on Thursday, astrophysicist on Friday, photographer on Saturday and travel journalist on Sunday).
Obviously that is not possible, but when faced with the need to pick just one option I felt trapped, restricted, so in the end I picked none of them. I studied business administration and marketing. The question remained however, what direction to take, which dreams to pursue … it was all a kind of blobby question mark.
Don’t get me wrong; I knew I wanted to be happy and satisfied doing something meaningful and helpful to others. Something that made a positive difference in the world and that preferably didn’t bog me down with a career I would loathe for 40 years. I didn’t want to wait for retirement to chase my dreams, it seemed like such a waste of time (I’m an impatient person, I’m working on it! But sometimes, impatience has its advantages) so I held on to my dreams as I somehow knew that I would do something that mattered … I just didn’t know what exactly.
But the innocence of childhood and adolescence, the dreams, the infinite possibilities slowly faded as I entered adulthood with all its responsibilities. I mean, rent had to be paid, and that’s just the beginning. I still didn’t want to resign myself to what felt like a limited and predictable life.
But I had nothing clear to reach for, just a feeling and knowing of “there is something better, this is not it”.
Since I couldn’t get a clear picture or a loud sense of “this is what I meant to do”, I decided to go the corporate route and figure out my purpose along the way. I searched, and searched and by that I mean soul-searching. But it was to no avail. Plus I was hooked on climbing the corporate ladder, even though I had no idea what I wanted to really do with my life. It was like I was committing to a dress rehearsal for a life that I didn’t even want.
But what I didn’t realize at the time was that I didn’t need to know it all. In fact, looking back, it was probably better that I didn’t have a firm direction or solid goals that I was working towards. Because by allowing myself to go with the flow, I fully immersed myself in the experience of contrast – meaning, I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I definitely knew what I did NOT want to do.
Slowly a picture emerged by knowing what I didn’t want, I could see more clearly and more precisely what I did want. For example, I wanted more freedom, I always wanted to have my own business, I wanted to be in control of my time and not be limited by two weeks vacations a year. I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to help people, I wanted to own my life and be in charge of it. All this narrowed down my choices, however, still no clear picture of what I should be doing.
There was one thing however that I knew for sure: I loved to travel. My corporate job allowed me to indulge as much as I possibly could in this passion which led me to that “ah-ha moment” at the top of the world, literally. Add in some other powerful experiences that broadened my horizon and my inner self-knowledge and I was ready to hear the message when it finally came (or perhaps, it was there all along, hidden under layers upon layers of limiting beliefs and conforming to society’s expectations).
Sitting at the top of a mountain in the middle of the Himalayas, everything came together. I was on a spiritual journey, part of a wonderful group of people, kindred spirits, visiting this wonderful, spiritually charged region.
Throughout the journey of about ten days, we all transformed, grew, learned, deepened our self-exploration and made new friends. We learned to go with the flow, embrace wonder and accept and live in the moment while feeling deep gratitude and love. We felt joy and happiness in seeing a yak for the first time. We cried tears of happiness in a monastery because the monks and nuns where full of pure love and kindness, it was simply overwhelming. We took pleasure and had fun with the most mundane and uninteresting things, things we do every day without even really thinking about it. Like peeing. Yes, when you pee behind a rock, next to your friends in the middle of this magnificent mountain range, you will never see peeing the same way again. It’s when we find humor and joy in the most insignificant things that we realize how significant everything is.
Seeing how powerful the trip had been and fully integrating all these emotions and feelings, sitting on a rock contemplating the mountains and enjoying the silence is when I heard it: THIS is what I want to do with my life – create powerful transformation journeys so that other people can also experience this. THIS is what I want to do with my life because everyone deserve to feel this happy, this powerful, this fulfilled and content, sitting somewhere on a rock looking at a mountain. And so I did!
How to find your purpose through transformational travel.
So if you’re finding big, blobby question marks hovering over your head whenever you think about your possible purpose in life, don’t worry. I’ve been there too. And to help you make the most out of this (exciting – I promise!) time, I’ve consolidated three tips for discovering your purpose through transformational travel.
Before you go on a transformational travel trip, ask yourself what you use to love doing in your childhood. What were your favorite things to do, or to play with, what did you want to do when you grew up? What made you excited, happy, joyful? What did you dream about?
Then compile a list of all the things you want to change in your life. Look for the contrast, what don’t you like today, what do you want to change if you could (and you can!) Don’t let the thoughts of “how”, or “when” cloud your soul-searching.
Then look at all the people you admire (famous, or not) and ask yourself why? Is it their accomplishment, dedication, never giving up, what do you love about them. The things you love about them are already within you, that is what you resonate with and why you admire them. You recognize their greatness because it is already in you.
For example, I admire Amelia Earhart because of her sense of adventure, her fearlessness and her work to advance women in aviation. She never gave up, and still did it when she was told she couldn’t. She followed her dream and she made me dream as a little girl, and she still does today. So for me, having adventure, excitement and fear to overcome are an important part of who I am and therefore how I want to live my life and what I want to do with it.
As you go along, see if a clearer picture of what you want starts to appear, or at least, a bigger contrast which is just as helpful.
No matter where you are on your journey, whether you are still searching for your purpose, or you found it but need a boost to make the leap, here are three tips that will enhance your transformational travel experience and propel you faster and deeper into your most innate corners of your being, where all the answers lie.
Surrender and let go of the need to know everything immediately.
Before you even pack your bags, I want you to let go of your expectations. You probably won’t emerge from your first transformational holiday with every detail crystal clear. And that’s okay. The beauty is in the journey and the incredible nature of transformative travel means that each and every experience is like a jigsaw puzzle piece that slowly but surely contributes to the bigger picture. Have patience and give yourself this sacred time to tune into your truth, which will guide you towards your true purpose in this lifetime.
Be open to stepping outside your comfort zone.
More often than not, the truth that has been eluding and evading us isn’t tucked away in our comfort zone like a favorite sweater or a beloved blanket. The truth is out there, right on the edge of that cliff, waiting for us to summon up the courage and strength to venture out towards it. Because after all, if the truth were so easily discovered … we’d have found it already.
Immerse yourself in the little moments.
Before I fully understood the nature of transformational travel, I thought that my major ‘ah-ha!’ realizations would happen during the big moments. You know, like seeing the ancient ruins of Tulum or kayaking in the middle of Halong Bay. And, in all honesty, those were pretty incredible memories. But my biggest and most meaningful transformations actually happened during the little moments; the conversation with a street vendor in Bangok; the shared meal with a family in Nubra Valley; the sunrise over the sparkling waters of Oahu. All of these little moments impacted and affected me deeply, allowing me to reconnect with my self and prepared me to discover my true purpose in life.
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what you think or share your incredible stories
of transformations and travel in the comment section below!
And don’t forget to download our free Adventure Edition of Happiness + Wellbeing Magazine!
- Travelling for self-discovery - August 1, 2016
- Three steps to finding your purpose through transformational travel - July 19, 2016