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