One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
Whenever I want to make a change in my life, I choose to travel. I’ve tried self-help books, Internet videos, and local programs – but nothing seems to work so effectively as the open road.
When I engaged in meaningful travel for the first time, I realized that so much of it was geared towards personal development. I was afforded time away from my stressors and triggers at home, while having sufficient time to develop and discover myself.
And in the process, I received a perspective on life that I could not have acquired anywhere else.
For 18 months I traveled from the spiritual paradise of Bali, Indonesia – to the desolate solitude of the Himalayan Mountains.
And now, having returned home – I have the unique perspective resulting not only from the self-made changes and discoveries, but also from the cultures and peoples that I connected with along the way.
Here are the 5 steps that I took to reinvent my life while traveling, and how it’s possible for you to do the same.
Before You Go
Step 1. Write out all the changes that you want to make in you.
Whether you want to kick a simple habit or completely change your life, traveling offers you a way to do both. But any changes that you want to happen in you – you must first identify in you, awareness is the first step. So instead of just brainstorming, do some observing.
Grab a sheet of paper and divide it into three sections (below). Afterwards, put it in your pocket, purse, or backpack.
Then, over the next few days start recording all of the changes that you want to make in your life based on the feelings and thoughts that you have throughout the day.
During any instance that you feel upset, dissatisfied, or incomplete – write down either what you can change to overcome it, or your solution to that particular problem.
To make it simpler, separate your list into these three categories:
• The habits, patterns, and behaviors that you want to drop in you.
• The habits, patterns, and behaviors that you want to form in you.
• The things that you want to achieve, accomplish, or experience (including any skill or knowledge that you want to acquire). And any major life change you want to make – like a change in your career, relationship, or place of residence.
Continue this process for about a week to get the best and most complete list possible!
Important: Change only what YOU want to change. Feedback from others is important, but suggestions are not – keeping your list authentic will keep you motivated.
Step 2. Choose your travel methods and destination using your list
For every aspect of you that you want to change, every skill that you want to acquire, and every experience that you want to have – there will be a place in the world, AND a way of traveling the world, that can help you do it.
Use the list you made in the previous step to help you decide on where you’re going and what you’re going to do while you’re away.
Some destination examples:
• Had enough of luxury? Experience life in Sub-Saharan Africa.
• Want to learn another language? Visit a country that speaks it.
• Want to get in touch with your spiritual side? Then go to India!
Some traveling-method examples:
• Want to learn to control your anger (or any other bad habit)? Do a Buddhist meditation retreat.
• Want to get in shape? Go mountain climbing or bike across a country.
• Want to make a change in your social spectrum? Then try hitchhiking, Couchsurfing [https://couchsurfing.org], or traveling solo!
Both examples could continue forever. The main point is – Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, there are entire cultures out there practically just waiting to help you out!
Once you’ve picked a place and thing or two to do – then pack your list and your lunch (eat it BEFORE airport security) and be on your way!
While You’re Away
Step 3. Say yes to opportunity!
Think you’re just going to do what you planned in step 2? Think again! Onset one of traveling’s greatest gifts: Cultural practices and perspectives.
Getting a new outlook on life is a perfect way to enhance your own ‘reinventive’ plans. Traveling gives you many new opportunities and it’s time to take advantage. Remember that each new culture is also a new perspective!
Here are a few things that you can do:
• Say yes to one new cultural opportunity or experience each week that you’re away.
• Have a 5 minute conversation with someone new every-day.
• Explore a new place or area every chance you get!
And remember to keep an open mind! Let people challenge you and question you. Because eventually you’ll start to challenge and questions yourself – and that’s when reinvention is at its finest.
Step 4. Add some self-discovery
Here is a quote from my Guru: “Spirituality is seeing a change in your outer world as a result of making a change in your inner world.” – Paramahamsa Nithyananda
Changing our inner worlds is the essence for reinventing our lives – it’s why we started with observing our thoughts and feelings in Step 1!
Now it’s time to address them directly.
There are many things that you can do, but here three really good places to start:
• Begin a self-awareness practice [http://tinybuddha.com/blog/conscious-healing-the-power-of-mindfulness-and-meditation/]. Like meditation, yoga, or mindful exercise.
• Begin a self-love practice [http://tinybuddha.com/blog/what-self-love-means-20-ways-be-good-to-yourself/]. Like hugging, complimenting, or treating yourself.
• Begin a gratitude practice [http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-start-a-gratitude-practice-to-change-your-life/]. Like listing things you’re thankful for, or noting the positive things that happen to you at the end of each day.
Engaging in a self-discovery practice transforms time to yourself, into time for yourself. Let your plans form the slab, cultural exposure form the filling, and self-discovery form the icing on the cake for how you can reinvent your life by traveling.
After You Return
Step 5. Re-integration
No trip is complete without a return ticket, and no transformational journey should be either. This is your final test!
The first few weeks after your return are critical. It’s very important to establish your new routine, radiate your new identity, and transform your every-day life based on the changes that you’ve made while traveling.
This will help you maintain and expand on your changes, while stopping you from relapsing into your old ways.
Here are a few things that you can do:
• Schedule a reflection time. It can be a continuation of your self-discovery practice or something new like journaling. Just 15-20 minutes of time alone will be enough.
• Change the look of your ‘home base’ to reflect the new you. It can be your room or car or office or all of the above. Making physical changes will remind you of your internal changes.
• Make your new feelings, behavior, or future plans clear to others. Firmly establishing your new identity will help prevent inadvertent peer pressure.
Bonus step. Use your changes to enrich the world around you.
What fun is transformation if you can’t use it to help others too? Teach them something you learned, share with them your new perspective, or who knows – maybe even write an article like this one! The more you give the more you get, and this applies for reinventing your life too!