I have known no greater avenue for personal enrichment than travel and exploration. A broader worldview, exposure to priceless experiences, and deep intricate knowledge of the world are just some of the signs and symptoms associated with it. In its trai,l it leaves a better version of ourselves, a version that will hopefully contribute something to humanity. At least that has been my experience and my hope for everyone. Yet, there seems to be a disconnect between people saying they want to travel, and actually doing it.
So I ask myself, “Why amidst a culture that prizes intellect, open-mindedness, and once in a lifetime experiences would we not take full advantage of something that encompasses that, and so much more?” It would seem as if we would be setting ourselves up for an unhappy life. A life where we are not able to pursue extraordinary living – and that is the goal, isn’t it?
The answer as to “why?” becomes clearer when we take a closer look at our ranked concerns as a populous – a variety of polls highlight several that are common. Among the top, we find ones related to:
- Health – where almost 50 percent of people worry about weight loss for health reasons. 29 percent of them seriously trying to lose weight.
- Finance – where almost 50 percent are unprepared for a major expense, or repair. Three out of four people say finances stress them out on a monthly basis, and another 50 percent fear outliving retirement savings.
- Personal Growth – where out of 2,000 people surveyed 42 percent were unhappy with their lives. 69 percent of people in a similar poll felt trapped in the same old routine
What do any of these facts have to do with travel and exploration? Well, they all have one thing in common – the same lesson I learned from a close friend of mine.
My friend – who we’ll call Jack – was a solid 300 pounds at one point. Jack was also a brilliant 4.0 student well on his way to becoming a medical doctor. After years of struggling with weight loss, he approached me – an enthusiastic health science major with plans to go to DPT school – about helping him achieve this goal. We mapped out a plan, and executed it perfectly. I watched him moan, groan, complain, and struggle. All the same he pushed, and pushed hard. At the end, he went from 300 pounds to 180 pounds in about two semesters. I saw Jack – sluggish and low energy – transform into this active, and energetic being willing to face any challenge head on.
However, what impacted me the most about his journey was not that he lost 120 pounds (although that is impressive), and certainly not that our plan worked. What surprised me, was that at the end of our semester he had decided to forego medical school. Instead, Jack chose another – less demanding much more flexible – profession. When I asked why? His response left me in awe. He said:
“Before, I felt that I was limited with what I could do in my life. I only saw one way out; making lots of money. This played a huge role in why I chose to go to medical school. This journey and its end result, have opened my eyes to so many other opportunities. It has left me with the confidence and courage to do things I never thought I could do before. I want more than money. I want to enjoy life, and spend more time building relationships.”
It blew my mind. The realization that something as basic as health could both limit and change someone’s perspective.
It could literally keep them from enjoying life to the fullest, and prevent them from growing. This was foreign to me. For the majority of my life, good health came naturally; thanks to my parents. I never sat down to think how much of a negative impact bad health could have on us – it is quite frankly enslaving.
In the same way, it did jack, lack of health can limit us from feeling comfortable in our own skin; making us less confident. It also has the power to leave us with debilitating health issues that act as barriers between us, and our dreams.
So based on our top concerns, it becomes clear: lack of good health is not the only barrier to feeling confident enough to venture and experience new things. Financial instability and a state of stagnant growth can also greatly contribute to the same insecurities.
Finances, when left unmanaged, leave us in a kind of paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle that cripples us from ever feeling secure enough to travel, or explore. How many times do we use the “I do not have enough money excuse”? Honestly, I have used that excuse more times than I care to admit. The reality is that either traveling is not a priority, or your finances need a makeover – now which one is more likely? If we make the effort to practice and nurture good financial habits, we can make it happen. Otherwise, we will continue using the same old excuse, living paycheck-to-paycheck, and stressing out when unforeseen expenses arise.
Personal growth is also important. This is where we get our internal drive. It becomes harder to feel stuck in the same old routine when we are continually learning and practicing new concepts. Spending time reading, conversing, and watching educational content expands our mind. Through the diligent search of knowledge, we can receive fresh ideas and experience intellectual growth. However, if we do not seek to educate ourselves we can likely fall behind in an ever growing society. For example, whereas one could have educated themselves on staying healthy and financially fit, ignoring opportunities to grow in these areas can lead one to create stressful environments that stunt growth – this inevitably becomes a vicious cycle.
The point is this, if the basics (good health, stable finances, and continued personal growth) are not taken care of, and are not made a priority, they can present as obstacles on the road towards personal enrichment. The fears, concerns, and insecurities that many of us have (as evidenced by the surveys above) can often paralyze us from exploring the world around us. Other times, we may jump without a proper foundation. In a world constantly indulging in instant gratification it is easy to fall prey to the “enjoy now, pay for it later mentality.” However, decisions without much thought create rocky foundations that if do not hurt us now, will most definitely compromise our quality of life later on.
The benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, financial stability, and continuous personal growth empower us to explore the world without feeling guilty, or scared. Preventing and eliminating potential stressors gives us a new found confidence that keeps our mind at ease. This allows us to enjoy experiences at a much deeper level. So travel the world, explore your surroundings, and meet new people – but remember to frequently and consistently travel back to the basics. Because it is only by proactively nurturing and managing those basics that you will enable yourself to live life to its fullest.
For information on how to get back to the basics: click here for steps to financial success, here for how to create a weight loss environment, or just visit us atfitwealthyandwise.com for more resources.