shadow

You step off the plane after a long trip. All day your thoughts have been on things you’ve missed while on the road.

Soft pillows and long, hot showers. Sleeping in your own bed. Seeing friends and family. Cooking in your own kitchen.

You thought you were ready to come home, to get back into a routine; to have some sort of stability in your life again. You’ve been looking forward to this.

And then…boom. Depression hits out of nowhere, crashing over you like your sugar high just ran out. And suddenly you have to fight the urge to turn around and beg them to let you back on the plane.

All I’d been thinking the last two weeks of my trip was how ready I was to be home. I wasn’t sure how people could keep on traveling indefinitely. I was exhausted; needing to recharge. And I couldn’t wait to kiss a certain someone.

I was totally unprepared for the post-travel crash. After 5 months of being on a constant high, facing one challenging situation after another, I had developed a near masochistic love of pushing myself to the brink.

The focus of my life had been on seeing just how far out of my comfort zone I could get. Constantly growing, learning, changing, adapting – doing things you never thought you could do becomes addictive. Standing tall on your own two feet and knowing that you are capable of handling any obstacle placed in your way is unbelievably empowering. Anything is possible.

Stepping off that plane, I understood why people travel indefinitely. Because it is a RUSH; a rollercoaster. Coming home feels like that rollercoaster has just screeched to an unexpected stop. Suddenly life seems to be in slow motion.

“No, no, no, I want more travel-sugar,” my brain started screaming.

“It’s okay, we’re not here forever,” I tried to soothe, “we’ll be back out again in no time. There are more adventures coming up, I promise.” It was like reasoning with a 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum.

After a day of this I switched to hard logic. “Snap out of it, you have a lot of work to do on your blog. You have two guest posts to write.”

“My blog is stupid. It sucks. Illinois sucks. Writing sucks.” (My inner 3 year old can be a real peach.)

I needed a way to keep the momentum I had while traveling. I needed to find a way to get that high from within.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Sound familiar?

Whether you’re traveling or not, starting a big project or a new adventure is heady. You’re all charged up. You make lists. You have goals. You’re excited about the future and all its wonderful possibilities.

We all lose momentum, sometimes when we least expect it. The good news is that we can regain it. We can control our own motivation.

Girl with red bow staring at mountain scene

Define your why.

Your why is the single most important factor is your level of motivation. If you can’t describe in a clear, concise manner why you’re doing what you’re doing, you are guaranteed to fail.

It doesn’t matter how disciplined you are, when motivation wanes you need to have a strong, underlying pull to keep you going.

Your why needs two ingredients: a goal & a mission statement.

Your goal has to be measurable. “I want to be successful” is not quantifiable. What does success mean? How will you know when you reach it?

The same goes for “I want to make a lot of money” or “I want to get a lot of followers.” How much is a lot? How will you know when you’ve made it?

My goal is to have 100,000 followers and be making over $1,000 a month from my blog within one year. I want to be location independent while still having a home base near a major international airport and be able to take a trip at least every 2 months.”

It’s measurable and specific and it’s BIG. And I’m putting it out here on the internet to help keep myself accountable (see point 5).

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Equally important as a goal is your mission statement. You have to believe in what you’re doing in order to achieve true success.

If you don’t believe in what you’re writing & promoting; if you don’t care about it in the depths of your soul it will show. And worse, if you somehow do gain success without having genuine passion for what you’re doing, it will be empty.

I needed to clearly define my mission. When I first started writing I didn’t know what I was all about. I had a vague idea about wanting to have adventures & inspire other people to have adventures. That was about it.

I started writing down what travel had meant to me. I went back and re-read my own post about what I had learned. I narrowed down what I had achieved. Empowerment. Enlightenment. Enrichment.

Then I had an epiphany. I didn’t just want to achieve these things for myself. I wanted to show other people how to use travel to achieve them.

Travel is not the end goal; freedom is.

Maybe that means taking a year to travel the world. Maybe that means a permanently nomadic existence. Maybe it means living a life of adventure right where you are.

I can’t define your dream for you, but if I can help you reach it, then any success I gain will be truly rewarding.

My mission is to teach people how to use travel to gain empowerment, enlightenment & enrichment; to live fully and freely and view life as a great adventure.

What’s yours?

Beautiful mountain & ocean scenery

Set a schedule

If you’re anything like me you probable have about 743 thoughts bouncing around your brain at any given time. Let’s face it, we’re human. We get distracted easily. Squirrel?

The hardest part about working for yourself and building your own dream is that no one is setting a schedule for you. There are no deadlines; no boss lurking over your shoulder nagging you about your TPS reports.

I mean, sure, you have a blogging schedule but is the world going to end if you only write one post instead of 3 this week? What if you get really busy? What if you don’t have great wifi? What if you just don’t feel like it?

So you miss one post. And then another. No one yells at you. You don’t get fired.

All of a sudden you realize you’ve spent the entire day watching the last season of True Blood and eating popcorn. Oops.

Writing down the things you want to do during the day means you don’t have to hold them all in your head. It helps you stay focused and if you get distracted you have a handy little reminder of what you were working on.

Plus, there is a great sense of accomplishment when you get to check things off. Feeling good about yourself is key to maintaining momentum.

When you feel good & you can see the path laid out in front of you, it’s easier to stay motivated.

However, schedule doesn’t mean humdrum. Setting a schedule isn’t something to tie you down; it’s to help free up your mind to think about more important things.

Like adventures.

Beach with palm trees

Start planning your next adventure.

Plan something you’ve never done before and put it on the books. Make a commitment immediately. Don’t let yourself get sucked back into the same routine you traveled halfway across the world to escape.

It doesn’t have to be something epic (or expensive), just something to look forward to.

Planning your next adventure, no matter how big or how small it is helps you to remember your why. It gives you something tangible to work towards. It keeps you from falling back into your comfort zone.

The reason I booked an open-ended trip was because I had gotten to a point in my life where I just felt stuck. I was trapped in the same routine of working 8-5, 5 days a week. I thought about vacations. I never took them.

On the weekends I would make comments like “We should go camping this weekend, babe. That sounds fun.” We never did.

I may be back in the same place that I once felt trapped in but I have a new perspective now.

Instead of hibernating away in an empty apartment I’ve started having coffee every afternoon with the girl across the hall. You know, just to practice my speaking-to-actual-humans skills.

I’m actually setting dates with friends (I used to be the WORST). I made a commitment to attend a new music festival that’s happening a few hours away from me. I booked a ticket to attend a friend’s wedding in St. Louis.

My routine has changed. I’m not just surviving the week, waiting for the weekends to roll around.

I’m establishing a life of freedom; a life of DOING. I’m creating a routine of adventure.

Sun peeking out of the fog on top of a mountain

Express gratitude.

“How does gratitude help me stay motivated?” You might be asking.

Fair question.

When you let yourself sink into that post-travel crash, depression can sneak in before you realize it. Depression is the ultimate motivation-killer. When you’re depressed, it’s hard to care about anything. Your momentum comes to a screeching halt.

When you focus on the things you are grateful for, no matter how small, it’s an instant mood booster.

When your mood is elevated, your energy level goes up with it. And you start attracting big things.

This might sound crazy, but 2 days after I got home I started feeling sick. Swollen glands, sore throat, a little stuffed up. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling miserable. Sticking to my blogging schedule was the last thing on my mind at that point.

My 3 year old brain started mouthing off with a vengeance. “See? You never got sick while you were in Europe. Now you’re depressed so you’re getting a cold and you’re not going to get your post written for Sunday.” (Okay, she’s a brat. There’s no excuse for it.)

But I started thinking, “maybe there’s something to that.” After all, your mind can certainly affect your body. And my mind was particularly whiny at that moment.

So I lay there in my bed, unable to sleep at 2:30 am, and I started listing the things I was grateful for.

A comfortable bed. Being next to someone very special. The fact that I had just gotten to have an amazing travel experience. Bacon. Having a really great dad who fixed my car for me after it got struck by lightning while I was traveling. Dental insurance. A mom who couldn’t wait to pick me up at the airport even though it meant giving up her Saturday night to drive into Little Rock.

Somewhere around caramel sea salt gelato I drifted back to sleep. When I woke up, I felt completely fine. Not only was my body healthy, my mind was as well.

I felt happy, energized, and ready to get to work.

Was it all in my mind? Maybe.

“Of course it’s happening in your head, but why on earth should that mean it’s not real?” – Albus Dumbledore

Challenge yourself & stay accountable.

What makes travel so exhilarating?

Seeing pretty buildings? Eating good food? Buying new clothes?

No, it’s the challenge. The having to constantly adapt, learn words in a different language, meet new people, find your way around. Okay, maybe a little bit the delicious food.

Keep the challenge going.

Start learning a new language. Attempt to cook your favorite thing you ate while traveling. Sign up for a half marathon. Volunteer.

Appreciate your comfort zone without getting TOO comfortable.

Doing things you’ve never done before empowers you. You don’t HAVE to travel halfway across the world to do something new, but it does require more self-discipline and follow-through once you get back home.

When you’re traveling and you get in a sticky situation, it’s sink or swim. At home, you can usually give yourself an out.

This is why having other people to help keep you accountable is so important. Tell your friends what you want to do, put in on Facebook, get a work-out buddy. When you make your goals public, it’s a lot harder to cop out of them.

Stick with it and maintain that high of accomplishment.

 

Have you experienced a sudden loss of momentum? How did you get through it? What are some other ways you stay motivated?


 

This post is part of the #SundayTraveler series. You can find more travel-related posts or link up your own at Pack Me To or any of the other great hosts listed below.

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Author

Mandie

Mandie is a writer, rebel & web design junkie. In her spare time she enjoys drinking wine, traveling & working on her perpetually unfinished novel. She was a nerd before it was cool.

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Comments

  1. Emma    

    Loved this post Mandie, I go through similar each time we get back from somewhere… 🙂

    1. Mandie    

      Oh good! So glad I’m not just crazy. Well, I still might me… 😉

  2. Sammi Wanderlustin'    

    OHMYGOD, THIS!

    Like are you reaching into my soul and writing things that you see inside? Seriously?! When I got home from my trip in July I was sick (but I was already sick, chest infection picked up on my travels that got the nickname The Croatia Cough, everyone had it). But being home was the worst for the first week, especially since I’ve been having job related issues for a while.

    You’ve got some great tips here, I’ve been lucky since I got home, I’ve got a press trip in Iceland next month which I landed when I got home & I have a few other things going on too, but don’t want to jinx them. I want to volunteer at the Tower of London with the planting of the ceramic poppies, buuuut life is conflicting with that right now so I have just downloaded the form in case I can do it once I know whether or not I will have the time.

    One other thing I think is good to mention about staying motivated is, have you seen that image doing the rounds on social media of someone flat out with the caption “Ever have so much to do that you just nap instead” ? Sometimes you need to take a step back and reassess and break those goals down into more manageable pieces. Because otherwise it’s like this massive weight hanging around your neck and you don’t know where to start (I have been guilty of this recently, just ask SJ).

    Loving the Dumbledore quote, too, I use that a lot. And the fact that bacon is thrown into the middle of the grateful list.

    1. Mandie    

      Yay, I’m so glad that you have gone through this too! Apparently getting sick right when you get back home is a really common thing – weird! I’m glad I didn’t have to come back to a job (especially one with issues). It would have been much worse, I’m sure.

      A press trip in Iceland sounds amazing! I’m dying to get there but, of course, it’s a bit more expensive from the states. If only I lived in London…but I digress.

      GREAT point about sometimes needing to just step back. This is so true, and actually I did it myself my final 2 weeks on the trip. I pared back my posting schedule & SM interacting and let myself just be a traveler. Also, I have no regrets about that day on the couch watching True Blood. It needed to happen. 🙂 There definitely comes a point where continuing to push yourself is doing more harm than good, and you just need to set it all aside for a bit.

      Haha, who doesn’t love Dumbledore and bacon? 😉

  3. Corinne    

    Mandie, so right! I have definitely felt that I was ready for home after a good few months of hard travel. There is something so sweet about your own bed…there just is. But , I always start planning my next adventure while I’m in one and that keeps me wanting more and more! Great advice!

    1. Mandie    

      I think that was key for me – to plan something else immediately so that I had things to look forward to. But yes, sleeping in my own bed (with my 2 big fluffy pillows) is absolutely glorious. 🙂

  4. RealGunners    

    Measurable goals, specific plans, dream BIG, schedules, challenge yourself… you sound just like my boss! Crap! 😀
    I’m not so sure about the bathing, people from some countries don’t bath daily, I know another example when people do not want to do something regularly. “You’ve had dinner yesterday, do you need dinner today?” (It sounds a bit more rude when said in Chinese).

    1. Mandie    

      Haha maybe that’s what happens when you work for yourself – you start sounding like the boss! And my answer to the dinner question would be yes. Yes, indeed I do need dinner every day. Lol

  5. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey    

    Excellent ideas Mandie. I love the one about jumping into planning your next adventure or goal even – gotta stay focused on the prize. Also thanks for linking up with us for #SundayTraveler again.

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks SJ!
      Yeah, you have to have something to look forward to or else you’re just…working. Now I have a new challenge of finding adventures I can afford. 🙂 Lol

  6. Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats    

    Sorry to hear about the post-trip blues, I think this happens to most of us after a long trip. Some great tips and thoughts on how to overcome this and ways to stay motivated. Setting small measurable goals, accountability, scheduling, etc. etc. – Psych 101 right?! Can be easier to know than to put into practice sometimes but it sounds like you are keeping on track!

    1. Mandie    

      Haha it’s totally Psych 101. Turns out all that stuff is…kind of true. I’m not even going to pretend like there won’t be days where I’ll fail miserably and do nothing, but hopefully having a strong ‘why’ will help!

  7. Anna    

    Good tips!!! I was just working on a post too about how after I started traveling, I finally understood why it’s such an addiction!! I like what you said about having measurable goals. I need to set one, but I have an inner 3-yr-old too that tells me I’ll never achieve it. Blah. I need to shut her up too and start working towards it more. 🙂

    1. Mandie    

      Inner 3 year olds are such brats, aren’t they? Mine tells me I’m not good enough all the time, too. I’m pretty sure that every creative person on the planet has an inner nasty voice that tells them they won’t make it. The best way to shut them up is to just keep going. 🙂

  8. Amy Lynne Hayes    

    This is an amazing post Mandie!! I have never gone traveling, and then come back WHILE having a blog as an outlet. So I had to wade through the withdrawal feelings without having a real outlet (writing is my outlet, and I didn’t pick that back up until I started blogging). I can 100% relate to the symptoms though. I agree with your approach, and priorities. Before you can state the what, you have to define the why. Otherwise, burnout is just around the corner. It takes some real soul searching. I’m still figuring it all out. I know I want to be a writer, and I want to make my living being published in magazines and online publications. It means I’ll have less time to focus on my own blog, but as long as I’m writing and sharing my stories, I’m okay with that. My biggest problem is realizing I can’t do it all. My mission in New Zealand: narrow that focus, and hustle, hustle, hustle every. single. day. And don’t let that inner 3-year old plant any seeds of doubt. 😉

    1. Mandie    

      Honestly writing this post was all the therapy I needed. Like you, writing is 100% my outlet and my way to clarify my thoughts. I’m still working on my why, too, but it’s getting a LOT more defined. Also like you (umm, are we sisters separated at birth?) I see myself first and foremost as a writer. If I’m being completely honest, I don’t write so that I can travel. I travel so that I have more life experience to pull on as a writer. 🙂 The important thing is that you know who you are and you are finding a way to do what you love. And yes, tell your inner 3-year old to shut it. (Are we allowed to slap our inner bratty children?)

  9. Maria Falvey    

    Ah, the post-travel crash – one way to work through it is to look around your home-base and note the unusual, the different, the unique. Your daily grind is someone’s idea of exotic or unusual so embrace it until you go out again.

    1. Mandie    

      Ha, that’s so true – great to keep perspective and remember to be grateful for what’s around me!

  10. Ryan Biddulph    

    Hi Mandie,

    Ummm….every time Kelli and I go back to NJ, this happens 😉 Motivation/energy flags. Awesome, awesome post because we use the same ways you use, to keep energized.

    We love seeing our friends and family. We love the home cooked meals/home bought food, and we treasure time spent with loved ones. After 4 to 6 weeks, we’re done though. I’ve outgrown NJ. Not meaning I’m bigger, or better, than anything or one there, but that since my why is being free, I feel bound being somewhere with no 90 degree temps, so endless sun, no tropical beaches.

    So we have stuff lined up travel wise before we head back to NJ – Kelli gets so excited to plan our trips – then we start researching trips beyond, when in NJ.

    Gratitude is a biggie too. Even though I’m ready to roll after a month I dwell on the convenience of being in a place like the USA. Whatever you want, or need, it’s at your fingertips….unlike when you’re in Savusavu, Fiji. We adore it here, but we’re dreaming of the “convenience” of Ubud, Bali in a few months.

    Thanks so much Mandie. Tweeting in a bit.

    Ryan

    1. Mandie    

      I know, right? Energy slumps…ugh.

      Writing this post helped, and it’s always great to see my family, but I’m still struggling with the urge to hop on a plane to anywhere. I have a bad case of the travel bug. I know what you mean about outgrowing a place, and it’s not a negative.

      Your paradise is 90 degree temps & a sunny beach, mine is a cabin on a mountain near a river with a couple of horses outside my window. 🙂 I think that’s the first time I defined that out loud. Now it’s time to take a leaf out of your book and go get it. 🙂

      Thanks, Ryan!

  11. Anda Galffy    

    Great tips, Mandie. I love your post.

  12. Adelina // Pack Me To    

    I’ve definitely fallen into the lack of motivation trap, but I find eventually over time I’m able to get myself out of it. These are all great ways of keeping motivation going.

  13. Mary {The World Is A Book}    

    This was such a great read, Mandie! You’ve made such excellent points and gave out useful tips. I haven’t been on any open-ended trips or traveled longer than 3 weeks ( a bit hard with a 9-5 job and kids’ school & schedules) but I can empathize with the lack of motivation. I’ve also been familiar with those post-vacation blues. It is so true that planning your next adventure motivates me on so many levels. I like that part about staying accountable. Glad to see you’re adjusting to life back home slowly again.

  14. Andrew M. Warner    

    Hey Mandie,

    This was a great post. I think the biggest thing as you mentioned is to know what your WHY is. Whenever I feel as though I’m lacking motivation, I always go over what my why is to help me through and ultimately get me motivated once again.

    “It doesn’t matter how disciplined you are, when motivation wanes you need to have a strong, underlying pull to keep you going.”

    That’s so true.

    I agree with the setting a schedule but I really agree with the points you made with “challenge yourself”. In blogging and in life, we have to challenge ourselves continuously to get better, to improve and to set and achieve certain goals.

    Great points.

    Enjoying your blog and the content you have here. Though I’m not a travel blogger, you have alot of great posts here.

    Hope you have a great weekend.

    – Andrew

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks for another great comment, Andrew!

      Your why is everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re a travel blogger or a software engineer or a bartender, without a strong why you simply won’t succeed.

      Having a written schedule isn’t for everyone – I have to have things written down because I’m incredibly ADD. I don’t always follow my schedule, but at least when it’s there in front of me it’s out of my head so I can concentrate on being creative.

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog, even though you’re not a travel blogger. (I’m not really a real travel blogger either, it turns out…but more on that soon). 🙂

      Have a great weekend, yourself!

  15. Laia    

    Such a great post! Some of your tips seem obvious (as defining why), so obvious that we never think about them 🙂 I’ll keep your tips and put them in practice, I’m sure it’s going to help. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks Laia!
      Welcome to the site. 🙂 Some of these things really are obvious but we tend to shove them to the back our minds. Sometimes we all need little reminders.

  16. Lynne    

    I truly can relate. When your stuck and don’t feel like doing anything you need to realize that this will get you nowhere. You need motivation and this article has shown us how to do it. Great post, I enjoyed reading it!

  17. Jerold Barraza    

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  18. Michael Lambert    

    Thank you for putting the words to how I feel so that my family can understand!

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