02.02.2014

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And most of the time, after talking with them, I end up feeling like they’ve made a big mistake. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, we naively assume that these things are going to make us happier long term. One of the problems for me was that after traveling so much just for the sake of traveling I ended up not having a background story.
Most of us quit our jobs in the first place coming from a purpose standpoint – our work sucked and felt meaningless.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the hardest years of my life, it’s this: you sure as hell can’t go looking for happiness.
One of the finest arts in life is learning how to balance adventure and reality – in other words, how to incorporate adventure into your daily life. Unless you’re the rare couple who plans to globetrot nonstop for life, I assume most of us want a family and some sort of mostly-in-one-place existence.
If your lifestyle requires you to be self employed, are you working on that while you’re traveling, or are you just saying you’ll get your shit together when the time comes?
Have you actually sat down to think about how to make your life awesome even though you’re living in one place? Time and time again I meet people 5, 10, 15 years older than myself that have temporarily dipped out from American society while they figure their shit out. And it’s immediately apparently after talking with them for 5 minutes that they haven’t figured anything out.  And that’s pretty upsetting… I mean, great, you quit a job you hated. These things don’t just come as magical realizations while you’re meditating in some ashram in India. And I hate to see so many people who start with good intentions – quit the job and find yourself – only to be lost in travel buzz drifting from place to place saying, “I’m taking it one day at a time”  while failing to really meditate on life. They fall in with the other hostelling people and mostly end up partying and lounging around, thinking they’ll go back with some great stories and a restored sense of purpose and understanding of the world.
I couldn’t wait to regain a life of excitement, full of stories and wise use of time. And then in 2010 I started doing it, and I started getting bored.  I got bored of just traveling just for traveling. Big questions for me like purpose and meaningful work never magically appeared upon my plate. The step they took wasn’t much better than what most of us fear the most – getting stuck working to pay the bills and just existing on our plot of land.
It’s like meeting many location independent bloggers – Great, you’re the 400th person I’ve met who quit their job to travel.  And when I ask “so what’re you up to, what have you figured out about life?” I rarely get an answer from someone who has truly sat down, thought, and produced a wise response. Many of us delude ourselves into thinking quitting and traveling is a panacea, when in reality it’s just another pill for the symptoms.
In this era where quitting and traveling is the cool thing to do – ask yourself, are you doing it just to escape or will it actually bring you closer to where you want to be? Travel won’t help you fix deep personality flaws, or learn how to find work you love, although it may help put some pieces together.
The defining decade by Meg Jay, is one of the best books for lost 20 (or 3o) somethings that are trying to figure out what in the hell path to take, especially if you’re looking to live an awesome, meaningful life. 1) The realizations often come when you’re out there TRYING stuff, experimenting with various activities, until you hit one (or more) that really makes you come alive. I too am a scientist at heart (Bio major), so I have to really test things out a ton before I am comfortable talking about them. However, if they think becoming BAMFs is going to make all their problems evaporate, I have to laugh. If I knew then what I did now, I would have read a ton of books, tried any kind of business, and been more productive with my free time. Alls I can tell is, if I keep working this way and watching my days go by, I might as well be dead. Despite my 5 reasons not to quit and travel the world, sometimes moving abroad or going on a long-term adventure really can be the kickstart most of us need to get inspired and motivated to make some changes again. I say go for it, I always recommend people to drop it all and go, but at the same time carry the understanding of what will and won’t change. Paulina – Awesome quote, Emerson is one of my favorite writers and philosophers ever.
I’ve learned how to experience life, what to value (people, not stuff), and how any stage of my life is just temporary.
If you are stuck in a place for a time (years, even) then there’s so much you can do to alleviate boredom. I think it’s human psychology to want to run away, instead of confront and fix things.
This is a very interesting article and one that I think is very relevant for 20 somethings.


I have to say, as someone who sits in a cubicle all day and sometimes dreams about traveling the world, I’m sick of people talking down about the idea. It sounds like you just finished an online PHIL 101 class and are trying to solve the riddle of life that no one EVER finds the answer to…trust me!! It seems to me that you are also confused and confusing us even more on wether traveling is the thing to do or not. I just read this (while at work, go figure) and I can’t thank you enough for having the balls (excuse my language!) to finally be the person to admit this.
So I am a traveling, nae, I am a person who moved to Paris thinking I was going to stay for 5 months, stayed on a few times because of relationships (yes at first I was all about the experiences crap) but after about 8 months I became incredibly wrestles and my life felt meaningless here too. I definitely agree with this article that you are not going to Eat, Pray, Love your way into happiness.
I'm the Managing Editor of Business Insider, which means I'm responsible for all of the editorial hiring here. They're all messing up on something that I think is very important when trying to get a job: the Thank You Email. It shows what a decent person you are and also gives you the chance to add to the interview in case you overlooked something or wanted to bring more to the attention of your prospective employer to consider you for the position. I have 15 years of experience recruiting and hiring cutting-edge technology types - the kind of people that keep the Top 100 most visited web sites in the world running. I suspect Jessica slept or partied hearty through the pre-recession period: otherwise she would know that such arrogance shown by employers is only tolerated during recessions. However, I am also not surprised she would write about this, after all the new generation of 35 and under have it all wrong anyway so I try not hiring them unless they show some special quality or attribute that catches my attention. After reading your thoughts on this matter I see that you are just another HR person that is desperate to make their position seem worth while. I thank you for wasting my time on idle chat while you tried to see how I would react to being angered from pointed questions designed to aggravate or illicit standard pre-practiced answers.
Lastly I thank you for not spending the time to send me a thank you note for my time, or covering my expenses to come and "work" at your company for the hour of our chat, or for spending weeks without letting me know what is happening within your decision making process. Did you ever bother to think the candidate wasn't interested in the position or your company after your toxic interview? Seriously, I am just shocked to learn that someone at BI has the words "manage" or "editor" in their title. Women love getting showered with attention, whether it be face to face, telephonically or through e-mail.
Many of them (assuming they don’t go back home after a short period) go right back to the reality they left in the first place, just a few years later. I’m using my time so wisely now, seeing the world, investing in experiences not stuff, and then it’ll slowly start to fade. I hated my job (like everyone else), I wanted to find more purpose and meaning in life, I needed new friends, and I just didn’t want to be living a mediocre life anymore. Sitting in an ashram in india meditating is not going to materialize your dream job in front of you.
The individual days were fun and exciting, seeing new stuff, meeting new people, going on adventures, but that listlessness was finding me again.
It felt like there were 532,234,123 other things I wanted to do than work just for the sake of existing and paying my rent. They still feel just as lost as they did in their corporate jobs, just with new, fresh surroundings. There was always some reality I had to come back to that needed changing and fixing, regardless of the travels. And that’s when I realized these people were stuck in one phase just above (but not far above) seeing through the way most of us lead our lives.
They had merely been avoiding it for the time being – but to truly see through it requires living it in a more evolved way.
It won’t solve the problems of finding meaning, being happy, feeling your time has been worthwhile, balancing adventure and reality, or finding work you love. I meet many many lost people on my travels and a very high percentage of them use travel as an opiate. Viktor talks about how he was dying in a Nazi concentration camp, and the only thing that not only helped him to stay alive, but also find a sense of purpose while all the other people around him slowly died. You can experiment with various jobs and types of work by doing volunteer work, internships, job shadowing, talking to people who actually live that way, etc. I am 100% sure that in 5 years you’re going to be living a lifestyle that is the envy of just about everyone.
I agree 100% – it IS bettter to travel (even if you come back to the same reality) and have more adventures and more experiences, revelations, about life.
I have been traveling for six months after selling up shop, quitting my job and deciding with my fiancee to see the world and escape the grind.


It becomes a bit same old same old find a hostel, do laundry see the sights, eat the local thing and take lots of pictures. This article makes it sound like you should second-guess yourself if you’re feeling like traveling. This article was written for the myriad folks who think that quitting their job to travel the world will solve all their problems.
Not having small kids in the house, and being able to enjoy other people’s kids, is quite satisfying for me. And it’s more than just travel, like you said it gives you the freedom in raising your kids, traveling, taking back your time, and ultimately taking back your life. I’ve lived in 1 city for 90% of my life and have only traveled outside of the USA twice. This post was mostly written for the people that have been abroad teaching English but still aren’t getting the life they want.
There are LOTS of 20 somethings (myself included) that just bounce around and move when life isn’t going according to plan. Such as typing "your" instead of "you're." I would personally never hire someone who didn't know the difference and simply came across as careless or illiterate. I own a company and hire for all sorts of positions, from clerical to warehouse and factory.
In my opinion, this writer has an ego issue and seriously loves having her ego stroked by folks desperate for a job. Do you really think that by asking me any of those standard questions like "What are your 3 best and worst qualities?" made me think that you had the skills to be asking me about what I can do for your company. In addition I thank you for not reading or understanding my CV, as clearly you are not able to ask questions that were in my field or were beyond "so you worked for company X for 5 years, why did you leave them?". LOL - she reminds me of NUMEROUS kids her age (always from Cornell) who think they have all the knowledge and maturity of someone in the workforce for 20+ years - most responses are dead on that BI should be ashamed to have this hack making comments about her "pet-peeves" and offering no insight at all - because she has no insight to offer - someone should spill coffee on her!!!
The art is creating an insanely meaningful and exciting life while living your day to day life. Most people get that immediately superiority complex too, as if they’ve magically figured it all out by traveling. Obviously I am intelligent enough to realise the naivety in this , but I think your article was what I needed to reafirm this, and it has really made me question what I actually want going forward. And the first 5 months was great traveling, learning about places, meeting people, experiencing cultures and eating great food.
Traveling might not solve problems, but it is a rare opportunity… not many people have the balls to do it. Little Jessica either has a serious power trip going on, or is one of the most incredibly petty human beings on the planet. I have been a recruiter for several years and I used to not to assess the value of a candidate by this kind superficial behavior. If that's really her job, she might want to think of a new career because she seems to have hired quite a few writers that have no concept of spelling, journalistic entegrity, or even common sense.
Travel as much as possible in your life, and if you can, create a lifestyle where you can travel whenever you want. I mean, I constantly feel bored and listless, I take a long lunch break just to escape, I think endlessly about my 20s slipping away. I do not regret coming as I would always wondered what it would be like to travel otherwise and I have had a great time but maybe it is time to cut my losses and go home (but feel like a failure to my friends and family). Its annoying, takes up space in my E-mails and just one more thing I have to read through out of my 200+ E-Mails a day. Hey HR people here's an idea: hire people that will make the best impact on your company's productivity rather than focus on completely trivial things like thank you emails.
But like you I can’t see myself doing anything else, and I have some big lifestyle changes that need to occur. Isn’t it better to travel, have adventure in your life, meet people and yeah, you come back to the same reality (if you come back), but at least you have some great times to reflect on?
But if you’re doing it because the pay is good and you can travel and have a better lifestyle for a couple years, what’s next? All the anxiety has come flooding back despite eating scorpions, climbing mountains and talking Mandarin has done F$&k all to stop my anxiety about work and my career. I still feel like I have underachieved, like I could have studied harder or, and worse still, that I was doing quite well in my last company and might have been line for a promotion but maybe i left for an escapist fantasy. I did a Skype interview I just thought what am I doing, I never wanted to teach little children English is it really worth it for the experience of paying bills in a foreign country.



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