Friday, December 30, 2011

New year, new adventures

It's that time of year, when people make resolutions about exercising more, eating better, saving money and somehow bettering themselves. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions because if you really want to better yourself, you can resolve to do it right then, not wait for the calendar to dictate your life.

While I rarely make a New Year's resolution, I am constantly making lists of goals, or other resolutions throughout the year. I find that when I write it down, I'm more likely to accomplish it. As I'm nearing 30, you know, that mystical age that seems to cause major assessment of your life, what you've done compared to what you want to accomplish, I figured I should get a jump start on getting myself in order since August 2013 and that mystical birthday will arrive sooner than I'm ready for.

But, since it is the season of resolutions, I've been seeing lots of articles about it. This week I found a few I can really get behind.

First up, this one from BootsnAll, a great indie travel site. All are good travel resolutions and I genuinely believe travel makes your life better all around. Experiencing the world can make you so much more aware, not just of other cultures and landscapes, but of the world and your place in it.

No. 9 on the list is to travel solo. Of course I don't recommend everyone go jetting off to foreign lands by yourself if you're not prepared and haven't thought through such a plan. I much prefer solo travel because I know myself, I want to do everything on my own schedule and in my own way. I also force myself to get outside my comfort zone and also meet many more people while traveling solo. But, if you're not as crazy as I am, start small. Take a solo road trip to a city you want to visit. Spend a day at museums or art galleries by yourself. Take the time alone to think, see, feel and experience. Yes, you can experience with friends and travel buddies and I am planning a few trips with friends who share my love of travel and adventures, but there's a huge benefit in spending some time on your own. Plus, while in foreign countries alone, I'm not pulled into conversations about things at home, unless I'm chatting with someone from another country, a stranger turned friend, about how our lives are different and similar. It allows me to focus on where I am, what I'm doing, where I'm going and regain some perspective. Everyone can use a minute to look at your life from the outside to keep yourself going in the direction you want to be going in.

A good read on solo traveling and very true points.

Another favorite is No. 11. Be a traveler at home. You can't know the world out there if you don't know where you come from. As much as I love to leave the country on an adventure, I don't always have the time or the funds. I love to explore where ever I am, near or far. I love to play tour guide when friends come to town or play travel agent when friends go abroad. A sense of place is a great thing and you start to feel at home even in faraway lands when you explore and live like a local. There's a good chance your area has more to offer than you think and you can get your fill of art, music, food, outdoor activity, culture and more if you try. Keep your sense of wonderment alive until you can wander far from home again! If you need more reasons to get you out and about in your town town, read this list. I love it!

But my favorite of the resolutions is No. 16. Be an inspiration. I still remember when I first decided to spend a semester abroad. For a minute I thought, no, I could never do that. And then I thought, why not? And I did it. On that trip I not only survived abroad, I flourished. I explored and made new friends. I learned more about the world and my own country by being away. I saw a different way of life where going to college was a huge privilege not a right and those New Zealand students worked far harder and took their education more seriously than most American students I knew. I came back a better version of myself, but also realized at any time and for any reason, I could buy a plane ticket, hop on a jet and go anywhere in the world. On my own. At 21, that was an enormous revelation and also changed my life probably forever.

All that said, I still don't believe in New Years resolutions. These are things I strive for every day. I don't always succeed, but the goal is always there and that keeps me moving in that direction. I do, however, love this idea of quarterlies. I will definitely be making use of this approach this year and will not just hope for the best in accomplishing them, I will. Some goals will take longer or will end up changing, but I've used the write it down, then do it approach for most things and for me, it works.

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all the best in the new year, but mostly, I wish you travel, adventure and exploration!