Let me start by saying that the original title for this post was
“Does the world really need another travel blogger?”
But that just begs the question
“Does the world really need another management blogger?”
And let’s just say that’s a can of worms we can probably leave unopened for now.
But seriously…the reason I changed the title is because I truly enjoy travel blogs. I love to travel and I love reading about other people’s unique and interesting travel experiences.
But here’s the thing: there’s a particular tone to some of these blogs that just rubs me the wrong way. It’s the assumption that we all secretly wish we could quit our boring desk jobs and with just a bit of gumption, we too could live out the universal dream of world travel. And if we’re not willing to pack it all in and hike across Slovenia or some such, then we must be soulless automatons who are dying a slow death at the hands of our corporate overlords.
Okay, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic (and no offense meant to the Slovenian hiking community). I do realize I’m making a sweeping generalization, and I admit that my visceral reaction may stem from the fact that I have felt like a soulless automaton at points in my professional life. But I resent the implication that the only solution to an unsatisfying career is to abandon it.
Work can totally suck. I get that. And the idea of a dramatic career reinvention can be tantalizing, and perhaps for you, an entire life overhaul is the best solution. If that’s what you need to do and you feel compelled to blog about it, please do. I look forward to reading about your adventures.
But if that doesn’t really feel like the solution for you, it doesn’t mean you have to be resigned to career stagnation. There are so many ways we can improve our situations incrementally – by acting purposefully, by building on the assets we already have and by finding ways to intersect with our work in new ways.
Many of the reasons we are drawn to travel – freedom, adventure, meeting new people, challenging our personal limits – reflect basic human needs. And if we think in terms of those needs, we may find the root cause of our dissatisfaction at work.
We need autonomy. We need purpose. We need to grow and be challenged.
I believe just about any job can meet those needs, if we approach it in the right way. And if it can’t, we can use it as a platform for the next job, or the one after that.
I guess that’s the basic belief that informs my work on this blog: There is a whole world of opportunity for a rich and fulfilling career between the extremes of dead-eyed desk jockey and carefree adventurer.
So please forgive the rant and let’s go make it happen.
(Photo by irishwildcat via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)
I couldn’t agree more. (Also, I hope none of my travel posts come across that way.)
Travel, like many things, can be great if you’re into it. Personally I’m not that into the perpetual traveller thing, although I do like the expat thing and the holiday thing, and I can understand why people like my father in law prefer to stay at home altogether. I see that he has other ways of attaining fulfilment, being challenged, continuing to learn, and so on and so forth. You’ve got to respect that there’s more than one way to go about life.
Well said! It is a matter of respect.
(And I am looking forward to trying the expat thing as my son gets a bit older.)
Wow – Did this ever hit home. I often wonder whether my desire to pursue a new career style is not really just disguised travel-lust. But then I also wonder whether my tendency to “stay close to home” keeps me from experiencing new avenues.
Well articulated. Work is another form of travel, is it not? When a nasty boss keeps doing micromanaging and relentlessly keeps chasing you for a target to be met even when the deadline is 4 weeks away, it sounds like a rude bus driver who keeps honking after you even when you have no place to turn to in a traffic jam!
Haha! Work does often feel like an endless traffic jam.
I have lived in five different countries over the last few years. Our things were just circling the world in a container ship, with our not knowing where they should land. I live in Nigeria now. Traveling is exhausting if you are not really a natural traveler, like me. Having to adjust to a new house, cuture and find a social group can be overwhelming.
I love this post. I don’t have a travel blog, but I’m the first to admit that I’m a travel junkie who enjoys dreaming about my next trip almost as much as actually taking it. I’ve also spent time in an office/cubicle feeling trapped, unmotivated and at times, depressed. I’m not a creature of habit, and often the daily grind of work that I feel less-than-passionate about feels pretty soul-sucking. But…I have learned that what works for me is not the case for everyone. One of my closest friends genuinely has no interest in using her vacation time for anything other than parking it on the same beach and visiting the same touristy spots each time. This person is smart, well-read, and she’s way more motivated in her day job than I’ll ever be. She gets excited about work seminars and dreams about how to make her presentations better and more exciting as much as I dream about my next global excursion. She recently shared with me that she has never left the continental US and has zero interest in doing so. She has also worked her way up in the corporate world, and I often look at her career path with admiration. My own path has been less linear, and in my mid-twenties, I impulsively quit a few jobs because I felt I had, like you mentioned, no autonomy. In hindsight, I would have handled things differently — not necessarily because I wish I had stayed there, but I wish I had had the tools then to know how to change the situation for the better. I wish I could have created a better situation for myself WHILE looking for another job. I’m not suggesting that all corporate types have no interest in traveling — I know many do — but I do think that we all have the power to create a better situation for ourselves. For some that might mean quitting the miserable job and fully engaging in an alternative career. For others that might mean taking continuing education classes and implementing something new and fresh into their current work life. People are different — some more averse to risk, while it energizes others, and plenty who are somewhere in between. I love what you wrote at the end in regards to what we all need: We need autonomy. We need purpose. We need to grow and be challenged.” I’ll add to that (at least for me anyway) that we need to cultivate interest and curiosity in whatever we do. I’ve had jobs that seemed boring but with a little creative thinking and exploration, I was able to shift how I was feeling to become more engaged in my job. Hmmm, you gave me a lot to think about. Thanks!
Thanks so much for this comment! I’m happy the post resonated with you. And, coincidentally, I read a great article this morning on a similar topic. I think you might find it interesting as well: “Putting Work in Its Place” by Kate Kiefer Lee. I particularly like this quote: “Follow your dreams” sounds nice, but it’s almost always more fulfilling to follow your needs.” https://themanual.org/read/issues/5/kate-kiefer-lee/article
That is an excellent article. Thanks so much for sharing! I do a lot of work with artists/creatives who are often torn between quitting their jobs to focus solely on their art. It truly is a very individual decision, and I’m always looking for articles to help them think through the options. I’ll definitely be saving this one and passing it along.