We all need a break sometimes. Whether that’s a short coffee break or a weekend trip away, it’s important to give ourselves the time to relax and recuperate.
When do we hit the breaking point where a holiday just won’t cut it?
For me, I found that point early last year. Taking the opportunity that I had ten days of annual leave available, I took a trip to Vietnam.
I thought about being ambitious, spending the ten days going from Hanoi in the North to Ho Chi Minh in the South, with a carefully laid out plan of buses and trains dotted down the coast. But, in an effort to take it a little easier on myself, I resigned to focus on the North so I could take the time to really enjoy the place and not be bouncing place to place.
After all, this was supposed to be a holiday, not an Amazing Race.
And I loved it. Vietnam is an incredible country full of amazing surprises. From the natural beauty of Halong Bay to the undulating rice fields of Sapa or the crazy, bustling cities of Hanoi, there is so much to see and do in this country.
I quickly realised I would never be able to see it all in my ten days. I wouldn’t even be able to explore the North well enough in that time.
I wanted to be able to embrace the adventurous spirit of this country – and its many fellow travellers I got to meet – and jump on an overnight bus to the next city for a couple of days. I wanted to be spontaneous and explore this incredible country. But my looming return flight and return to my job was stopping me in my tracks.
I found myself asking the question: why? Why was I squeezing my travel adventures into this tiny windows of ten annual leave days at a time? Why wasn’t I pursuing something that I loved; that made me come alive?
Was this what the rest of my life would look like?
Of course, this isn’t new. We all itch to quit our job and jump on our plane. It’s exciting and adventurous but how realistic is it really?
Only a few of us are in the position where we can take an extended time to go travel. Responsibilities and external pressures don’t just go away because we’ve caught the travel bug.
What made me any different from any other millennial brat who wanted to pursue this cliche dream?
Probably not much at that moment. Yes, I was burnt out.
I was lost in a cycle of negativity and trying to deal with it by distracting myself with more work and it merely conflated my burnout.
I knew I needed to get out of my rut. I needed the space to recover and to focus on myself.
But there was something deeper underlying.
I wasn’t just looking for a short break; I was looking for a new direction.
I knew that there needed to be a greater purpose and motivation behind my life.
Sure, I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was flocking to travel because it’s what I loved. But it was also the one thing that consistently pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me the space to be unapologetically me.
In doing so, I’ve allowed myself to take the time to recuperate on a larger scale; but also to take the time for introspection so that I can rediscover my purpose.
It’s a work in progress and I definitely do not have it all figured out. But it is in doing so that I’ve found my new direction; and it just so happens that it’s not in the office.
Now, I’m not trying to advocate for everyone just quitting their jobs and travelling the world. If it works for you, then sure, take the leap. But ask yourself these questions first.
1. What is your mission?
Now, I realise that this is a huge question we could be dedicating a whole blog series too. But start small: what makes you come alive? What does success mean to you? When you sit back, twenty years down the track, what do you want to have achieved; what impact do you want to have created?
Give yourself the time to really consider what it is that drives you further. And don’t be afraid to ask for help in discovering what your mission is.
2. Is what you are currently doing helping that mission?
Is your job aligned with your mission? Are you passionate about the work that you are doing? Or is there a side hustle or passion project that’s ticking away that embraces your mission? Amazing! You’re already halfway there.
Don’t lose sight of the mission and when things get hard, remember that this stress and hardship is in service of the bigger picture and the vision of what your future you is.
3. What can you do to help with that mission?
If you’re not working towards your mission, why not? What’s holding you back?
Maybe it’s about talking to your team at work about diversifying your workload so you can try your hand at other things that might resonate better with you. Or maybe it is looking for a job in a different field.
And this may not be possible for everyone. So maybe invest your free time into building up a passion project that can help you manifest your mission. Ensure that you are dedicated regular time to building it. Who knows? It could eventually turn into your full-time job.
4. How can my lifestyle reflect this mission?
What are you doing day to day to ensure your mission remains the driving force in your life?
Doing a job you love and that is aligned with your vision helps. But what other factors can help enhance this?
Yes, one option is turning to remote work. There is a lot to be said about the flexibility of this lifestyle that can make one more inspired and productive.
But it’s not the only option. Find something that works for you. Build into your routine regular goal- or vision-setting to see how you can constantly be making small adjustments to achieve your mission. Invest in a learning course or program that can help you develop a new skill to help you manifest your mission.
Whatever it may be, take control of your own destiny and mission. Reinjecting purpose in your life starts with you and no holiday – however transformative – will ever be able to replace the power of you.
I’m Tiff and I’m passionate about empowering people to tell their stories in meaningful and creative ways. Ten months ago, I quit my corporate job in Sydney, Australia to travel and pursue my own projects. Now, slow-travelling through Europe, I can’t imagine going back. As a writer, I love being able to share my stories and struggles with the emerging remote working community. I haven’t got it all figured out and constantly feel like I’m flying blind, but I’m excited to be giving myself the space to do so. You can find out more here.
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