A retirement coach recently gave my parents a homework assignment: before they consider retiring, they need to build a list of 25 items they want to do once they retire. She warned that many retirees become bored and inactive, eventually leading to sluggishness and illness, because they don't have concrete goals set out for their retirement. Retirement is not the end of working but rather a change in life and work, she explained.
That is also how we describe our round-the-world trip. At first, we treated it like an extended vacation; we hopped from city to city and location to location to spend our time sightseeing and discovering the culture. Six months into our trip, we have learned that this trip did not end our jobs but rather changed how we view life and work. Now, we place more emphasis on experiences rather than things because we have lived for the last six months with only what we can carry on our backs. Work is still important to us and, even while we are traveling, we carve out several hours a day to exercise our minds. At the same time, we are less career driven because we are happier and healthier without working 60 hour stressful weeks.
But, we have never created a list of things we want to do on our travels or even a bucket list of places we want to see. We are goal-less. And, if we don't create goals, will we eventually get bored and irritated even if we are surrounded by amazing sights and sounds? Travel is, by its nature, unsettling so we internally create structure and order out of the chaos. In fact, several long-term travelers recently called it quits because they did not like the constant movement, uncertainty, and chaos of travel.
We are lucky because we have never felt burnt out or rushed --- and when we do feel rushed, we slow down and do nothing. Even still, I worry that this lifestyle is making us complacent and unmotivated. This, of course, leads to another problem: how can I make long-term goals if I don't know what I am going to be doing next year, next month, or even next week? (Does anyone out there have this same issue?)
Nonetheless, I am going to give it a go and let you know five of my goals for the next two years:
1. Spend a month in Tuscany and learn how to make fluffy gnocchi like those Italian grandmothers make.
2. Visit Egypt and dive the Red Sea.
3. Honestly respond to the question "What do you do?" with "I am a writer" instead of "I am a lawyer."
4. Learn to drive manual shift. It is ridiculous that I can't drive most of the cars in the world.
5. Be with our dogs as much as we can.
Y'all, on the other hand, seem to have your act together because when I asked for your bucket list destinations in the Lost Girls book giveaway, I loved that there was such a diversity of answers. Danni wanted to sail the South Pacific and Candice and several others wanted to travel to the Greek islands because of its "sunshine and warmth. And cute Greek men." Greece - yes, I want to go there, too! I loved Katya's answer: "I want to go horseback riding through the amazing Australian outback and discover this continent and ride off into the sunset as a lost cowgirl." I can't speak to being a lost cowgirl, but the Outback is amazing and was one of the best parts of Australia.
For some reason, maybe it is the struggles with my infertility, maybe it is facing turning 30, I have a very strong underlying desire to not only travel, but to MOVE to another country. I would have to say that Thailand is on my bucket list, but I will be checking that off of my list this Summer (assuming things don't get too crazy over there). So, after checking that off, I would really like to visit ANYWHERE in South America or Africa!
Congrats Melissa! Hopefully, things in Bangkok will calm down soon and your trip to Thailand will be a good one.