Obituaries are filled with people whose main accomplishment and their great meaning was being a parent and grand parent or a member of a community or military service. That was their legacy.
There’s this exercise I’ve heard about in visioning workshops where you write your own obituary to help you determine what you want your legacy to be. The reasoning is that by seeing it actualized on paper, you will fuel your current choices and actions towards the accomplishments for which you want to be remembered.
Your big trip could be your legacy. If you travel to accomplish your dream of traveling around the world, your obituary can read:
“She was a world traveler; she was courageous enough to take the steps necessary to live her dream.”
Lest you fear (or someone has told you) that the goal of travel is meaningless, irresponsible, or selfish, remember it takes courage to travel on a big trip because American society doesn’t support this accomplishment. It easier (though sadly not always possible) in America find a support system for other accepted accomplishments that are conducive to a higher purpose — marriage, family, career and work, home ownership and decoration, military service, and higher education.
Traveling long-term is a quest that takes courage precisely because you may be the only one you know doing it. I came home from my first trip with no money and no job during the depth of the 2009 recession. My family just wanted to hear me say that I had gotten travel out of my system and was ready to “get serious.” Instead, all I wanted to do was travel again.
“Where do you want to go?” they asked. The Pyramids and Petra. The idea of visiting the Pyramids and Petra gave me the drive necessary to be creative in how I earned money. I found I had a knack for consulting, which I still do to this day. It gave me the courage to be frugal and focus all my energy to save money for this next trip. It allowed me to receive the generosity of my family by living with my aunt and uncle. I lived for this trip. Picturing my arrival at the Pyramids gave me meaning each day of that particular Midwest winter.
When my consulting gig ended early because the client ended the project, I didn’t feel depressed or discouraged. It was the doorway to walk through. I looked at my savings and bought a plane ticket to Cairo without hesitation. The job was meant to least just enough to get me to Cairo. I arrived at the Pyramids in April 2009.
To get started, I believe it’s important to bring that goal into the light of day and make the choice every day to accomplish it.It can be something as simple as just saying out loud, “I want to travel for a year around the world.” In this act of stating your intention aloud and deciding to move forward, you are already pointed in the direction of finding your meaning. In this choice, you are on the path towards meaning through achievement of your travel goal.