Travel & Your Career: Refresh your Horizons

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After recently returning from a trip for both work + pleasure, I was reminded of how much I need these trips. Not just for the typical reasons of relaxation and "getting away from it all" but because of the positive impact travel has on my motivation and mindset when I return home. In this post, I'll pick apart a few highlights I've uncovered after reflecting on why I always feel a new level of clarity when I get back from a trip.

You're reminded that there's much more in this world than you and your problems

We'll start with the obvious. Getting away, whether for work or pleasure, particularly to a foreign country, resets your baseline for what's a big deal and what's not. By experiencing another culture and getting away from the drama, stress, and hype back at your day-to-day grind, you're reminded that there's a whole other world out there and somehow, your problems don't seem like such a big deal. By experiencing the difference in language, currency, food, and architecture I've always found that my focus shifts to appreciating and experiencing these differences. Subsequently, the "whatever's" I've been so wrapped up around back home fade away. It's like hitting the reset button on your emotions & focus.

You get an ego boost

Perhaps less obvious is how getting away makes you feel better about yourself. It's easy to get into a rut and feel unappreciated when you work with the same people every day. It's not necessarily a product of a toxic work environment, it's just what happens to us as humans - we take people for granted, and that can wear on us. In my recent experience, I gave a TED talk in Budapest, Hungary. Leading up to the talk, I felt as though what I've done in my career isn't so great, and I was almost embarrassed to talk about it. But what seemed as un-special to me was celebrated by the people I spoke to. People came up to me after me talking saying how inspiring my story was, and a big part of that was the difference in culture. All of a sudden I felt significance and appreciation for the experiences I've had. Why? because they were different, unique and special to the people in the country I was in. I was reminded to be proud of what I've done and more thankful for the people that have helped me. Sometimes we all need that feeling!

You're motivated by the people you meet

I met some freakin' incredible people on my trip. We all do when we travel - whether it's a musician, artist, or another professional, simply meeting somebody else who has accomplished something different than you and the people you're around every day motivates you. Usually when traveling you learn different career approaches, different educational backgrounds, and different accomplishments. I was incredibly motivated by the talented people I met on my trip - and that brought me back with a new energy to keep pushing and trying harder at my job here.

You get time to focus on you

For part of your time when traveling, you'll probably get some alone time. Whether it's on a plane or walking city streets, you get time to think. For me, I had a lot of time to walk the streets of Budapest, take in the scenery, and just think. It's so rare that we have that opportunity amidst the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, as much as we try or say we do. Would I ever take 3 hours out of a morning just to walk to the top of a hill to take in a view? Make time for leisurely lunch by myself? Heck no! But when I travel I do. There's a re-focusing, reflection, and clarity that comes from taking time to yourself. No emails, no phone calls - just you. It's forced meditation, and boy is it refreshing. During my alone time on my trip, I was able to think about my future. I set new goals and reaffirmed what was really important to me. I thought about the aspects of my career that are dragging me down and made decisions on what to do to get rid of those burdens. It's nearly impossible to do this if you never step away from the daily grind, and I'm so happy I had that chance.

In conclusion

I get it, you're busy and you think you're too important to step away from your day job for a week or so. ;-) Believe me, I was stressed about not having constant email access and missing phone calls and meetings, but you know what? The earth will continue to turn in your absence. In retrospect, the time I was gone flew by, I was still able to sneak in a few emails here and there, and nothing blew up while I was away. The benefits for myself (and my sanity), my career, the people I work with and the organizations I serve from Courtney-getting-away-for-9-days far outweigh the benefits if I had never gone. So whenever you can - at least once or twice a year, make time for a solo trip overseas. Your career will thank you!