Travel for growth, part 2
Travel is disruptive, refreshing, regenerative and transformative and should have the highest priority
in spending plans. Now is the time to re-assess your priorities in this area.
Find out why and how on this page.
Start by watching my introductory video below (click on the bar under the video to read the full text).
Then spend some time on self reflection and further reading
Why we need to re-prioritise travel, part 2…
HELLO. ITS JEREMY here to welcome you to this months topic which is the concluding post about the power of transformative travel and its key role in our own growth and personal development.
As I mentioned in the first post on this topic THIS IS AN underrated area, I feel, even though it has significant implications for our money and our attitude to money. SO OFTEN PEOPLE leave money for travel to the end of their expenditure plans. It becomes a residual item after everything else has been taken into account. In the previous post and this post I want to show why we need to re-assess our priorities in this area.
AS YOU MAY recall, last month I introduced the topic and discussed why preparation is so important. THIS MONTH I am going to consider the transformative effects of the journey itself and its aftermath.
So what is THE BOTTOM LINE to emphasising travelL in our life and financial plans? I believe that at its core, TRANSFORMATIVE travel deepens significantly our personal integrity. I keep coming back to integrity and have discussed it in other posts because it is so important. Integrity is at the heart of a meaningful and fulfilled life. Travel does much to strengthen our integrity because, as Alain de Botton writes in his book The Art of Travel, ‘THE DOMESTIC SETTING keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, WHO MAY NOT be who we essentially are’.
Because we will achieve greater personal integrity we should see LESS STRESS in our lives, or rather stress in a different form. Much of the stress we suffer today is the stress that arises from not being true to ourselves, for living an ordinary life rather than an essential life.
As we take steps to develop and grow this stress will be replaced by the stress of challenging ourselves to take more transformative journeys.
HERE MAY BE a good time to remind you of how I define a journey. Whilst we tend think of travel as being the process of going away from home to a new environment, often on holiday as many of us will be doing this July and August, I SEE TRAVEL as being both a physical and a spiritual process. Thus for me READING A BOOK is travel in the sense that it takes me out of the comfort zone of my home and workplace into a new environment with the potential to bring about personal change within me. So whilst travel will certainly involve HOLIDAYS in the conventional sense of the word, for me it is more about purposeful travel such as exploring NEW PLACES and new cultures, discovering ART, science, politics, visiting FRIENDS or family, attending CONFERENCES and workshops, VOLUNTEERING, FESTIVALS, even GOING TO THE CINEMA.
Every time we move out of our ordinary world and into a new world we will challenge ourselves.
Even the journey we embark on when we read a book or watch a film can be challenging and life changing. Who hasn’t experienced some form of personal growth when reading books such as BIRDSONG or A Train in Winter, or watching films such as Schindlers List. Even less cerebral films such as any of the Pixar films SUCH AS UP take us on a journey, imparting wisdom on the way, if we care to accept it.
Embarking on a journey is not dissimilar to participating in an INITIATION CEREMONY. In her book A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong describes how initiation ceremonies in traditional tribal societies subject initiates to intense stress as they are taken from the SECURE DOMESTIC ENVIRONMENT in which the initiate has grown up into a new, scary and CHALLENGING ENVIRONMENT in which he dies to his old (childhood) self and is reborn as a man. Facing up to the trauma helps him to understand that death is a new beginning. It is ‘a rite of passage to a new form of existence’.
Importantly, Armstrong emphasises that this happens every time we leave the comfort and security of our home and go through the trauma and stress of a transformative journey. Each time, WE DIE TO OUR old self and are reborn to a new self. The more we do this, the more we are able to see death as simply ‘the last and final initiation into another, totally unknown mode of being’.
A SKI-ING trip is a great example of this in action, especially as you move from beginner to advanced. One is forced to do the exact opposite of what one would do instinctively, such as leaning out of the slope and not leaning back, pointing downhill, putting your weight on the downhill ski; above all, realising the best way to get down safely and in control is to be firm about it, to not hold back. Surely this is all about getting out of the comfort zone and learning lessons for when we get back home.
Lets turn to the FINAL PHASE of our journey, returning home.
Returning home from a journey is often a challenge. If it is, then that is because we are returning to ‘THE PERSON WE are in ordinary life and withdrawing from the person we essentially are’.
However, it does not have to be like that. Both the process of preparing to travel and the journey itself can have a remarkable impact on our lives when we return home.
In the first place, if we have done our preparation well, we should come back to A CLEAR DESK. This is important, especially if our journey has been more in the nature of a retreat or transformation rather than a straightforward holiday. It means, when we get back, we should have TIME TO CONSIDER and act on what we have done. There should be time to WRITE UP NOTES, prepare plans for change, reinforce NEW CONNECTIONS and generally consolidate what we have just learnt. Even if it was a straightforward jolly one still has space for reflection and consolidation.
Secondly, there is a period of time, before routines kick in, where we remain our ESSENTIAL SELF in our domestic setting. We are ENERGISED, SELF-AWARE, UNCONSTRAINED and free from the shackles of the routines, procedures, conventions that will quickly ensnare us again, like a fly in a spider’s web. However, we are back in our own environment and so in a good position to make the changes we considered before we set out on our journey. This is especially so if we have cleared the decks before departure.
This short period of time represents a WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY when we have the power and freedom to consolidate, even if only in part, being our essential rather than our ordinary selves. This happened to me a few years ago, and even now I recall the shock and awe of discovering I had the power to transform and could use it to start to live the true me.
It happened when we were ski-ing in Italy one New Year (I do other things beside ski-ing by the way). New Year’s Day was our last day and the snow was good. In spite of a very lively and late New Year’s Eve party I was determined to make the most of this final day on the slopes. I was up and out in good time on New Year’s Day although my friends and most of the rest of the town were less enthusiastic that morning.
As a result I was the only person on the long lift up the mountain, a beautiful journey in bright sunlight through a landscape of snow and trees and mountains and a peaceful and quiet journey which must have enabled me to open my heart to my essential self and realise in few seconds that my life and my job were totally ordinary, unworthy of me and that I was doing myself no favours.
That brief period of quiet in a very special place crystallised a range of thoughts that had probably been going through my head for some time and became my Damascene moment.
I returned to London and immediately handed in my notice to my employer. I put my flat on the market and found a room to rent. I spent some time working out what to do and although I did not know it at the time, this was my first step on a long and difficult journey towards my current entrepreneurial lifestyle.
When I look back on this episode I see how much my revelatory moment on the slopes – and the discovery I had the power to become essential rather than ordinary – actually transformed my life. It led me to set up my own financial planning business and apply a radical and unique approach to the profession. It led to me MEETING MY WIFE – she was my ‘landlady’ and we married less than a year after we met. Both these led to a relocation away from London (which, in truth, was never my city) back to my native Yorkshire and the birth of our son. And probably most importantly, it started the process of getting me out of the rut I was in and transformed my life in ways I would never have dreamed of.
At the beginning of this post I talked about the importance of FINANCIAL PLANNING in transforming our lives. I argued that one of the prime purposes of financial planning should be to enable us physically and financially to travel, and hence to grow.
This means re-prioritising our spending plans from the conventional to SOMETHING THAT looks like this depending on your own family circumstances. SAVINGS, DEBT REPAYMENT and TITHING come first.
NEXT, plan for TRAVEL and personal development, then for LEISURE, hobbies and sport. Next plan for the more routine expenditure such as DAILY LIVING, then FRIENDS and family, house costs and the rest
This is a radical shift from the CONVENTIONAL which echoes Mazlow’s Hierarchy of needs, and which puts food and shelter first, meaning last.
I argue that MEANING is our most important priority and the one place we can guarantee to find seeing is in travel
If we stay in own domestic and business world then there is a danger that TOMORROW will be the same as today. If we plan our lives and money we can finance the journeys that will transform us from our ordinary selves to our essential selves. Its not the money thats important; its what we do with it that really matters.
Thats it from me. there is a bit more about the books I mentioned and other material below this video on this post.
Take care and go well.
A bit more about travel, transformation and growth
Whilst much, if not most, travel literature sets out to describe places and tell us what to do when we are in those places,
a very few delve into the deeper meaning of travel and its causes and consequences.
Here are two such books…
The Art of Travel
Alain de Botton’s travel guide certainly will not tell you where to go or what to do when you get there. Instead, de Botton seeks answers to deeper philosophical questions about travel, including what travel is, why we travel and how we should get to where we want to be. Specifically, he asks how the Art of Travel helps us to flourish and grow.
De Botton draws on the work of earlier writers, thinkers, philosophers and artists to explore the human psyche’s need to travel and its impact on us. He addresses the anticipatory aspects of travel, and the shock provided by reality when reality in a new place fails to meet the anticipation. He considers whether our imagination is a more than adequate substitute to the reality of travel and concludes that actually journeys are ‘the midwife of ideas’.
The book is a refreshing insight into the deeper meaning and psychology of travel and its ability to help us flourish, grow and bring meaning into our lives.
A Short History of Myth
I’ve included this book in reading around the topic of travel because many, if not most, myths involve a journey and a transformation.
We benefit from a journey as much in the telling of its story – to ourselves and others – as we do in making the journey itself.
Armstrong seeks to demonstrate that myths are stories designed to help us understand the world and humanity’s place on the world stage. It follows, therefore, that when we tell the story of our own journeys we help ourselves and others to also understand the world better and to get deeper insights into our humanity and the humanity of others.
In this book Armstrong also describes the process of initiation which has its foundation in mythology and is a journey of transformation and growth in its own right.
A remarkable and valuable book that will help anyone understand better their own journeys and travels.