In case you missed it, this is Part 2 of a series of why people are leaving (as they run the f*** away from) the US. Part I is here.
Reason 2: Adventure
When I say “adventure” you might picture backpackers. Or maybe the young, single crowd, no-responsibilities type. No. At least, that’s not how I label me and my wife.
How about sleepwalkers? That’s how I label us. I and my wife are classic sleepwalkers through life. Or at least we’re prone to be if we’re not careful about it. And I believe if you’re reading this blog, you might be too.
Who’s a Life Sleepwalker?
Like I just said above, we are. We all are. Is it human nature? We get more settled, more stuff, more routine. Cruise control sets in and we sleepwalk through life.
A few weeks ago, a new friend, Vernon wrote in to me. He asked about our reasons for travel. I mentioned we once lived in Korea (mid 90’s) but then moved to the States. He asked “Why did you leave the States after having spent time in Korea?” I’m guessing Vernon half-expected we left because we were frustrated with the US.
Nope, not frustrated, except with ourselves. We longed for adventure. My then girlfriend and I came from Korea and decided to live together and find work in beautiful New Hampshire. After a few years, we got married. Then we got a house. Then we had a baby. Slowly, over about 10 years, we went from Korea to absolutely rooted. We were lulled to sweet slumber.
Bored or Sleepwalking?
Are you bored or sleepwalking? There’s a difference.
Bored is when you’re lacking stimulation. You need a hobby or passion. Note: careful not to confuse boredom with procrastination. That’s self-inflicted resistance against what’s important and is only posing as boredom. (When I blow 2 hours on Digg, I realize I’m procrastinating)
Sleepwalking is when you’re lacking uncertainty or adventure. You need to take a step (or tw0) out of your comfort zone.
Sleepwalkers aren’t just in their comfort zone, they’re spinning around in there like a toy top.
When life seems like it’s moving “fast enough for us,” — then you might be sleepwalking.
When you feel busy, yet your to-do list is all urgent but not important — then you might be sleepwalking.
If in 5 years you won’t remember what you did today, last week or last year — you’re probably sleepwalking.
Trust me – the months/years will drop away like you wouldn’t believe. Do something that spooks you awake.
Problems to Fix: Boredom and “Sleepwalking”
Bored? Swallow the frog!
If only bored, fine, seek out a hobby. Or tackle your to-do list with fervour. See “Swallow the frog”
Sleepwalking? Three Questions
If you suspect you’re sleepwalking, ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. Is my life “comfortable” but not giving me comfort or peace of mind?
- If you answer ‘yes’ – you just might be sleepwalking
2. Do I find that the days (weeks, months) seem to be the same?
- If so, you may be sleepwalking (or actually sleeping in a coma)
3. Do you have a vision of how life will be better in 5 years from now?
- If not sleepwalking, life can be better when taking aim at something.
Like I said above, we had it all: the house, the careers, a solid network of great friends, and the infant (and even a cat). We were so “set” we felt we were almost sleepwalking. That thought made us miserable (okay, maybe that’s dramatic, but you get the idea).
How did we fix it? We spun the globe, picked 3 cities. Three cities we hadn’t seen before but were curious about: Auckland, Barcelona and Prague. I sent out CVs to recruiters in each. We sold the house, quit our jobs and put all our crap in storage.
In 3 months, we were living in Prague.
Would we do it again? We did. Fast forward 4 years. We find ourselves owning another house (our flat in downtown Prague) and we popped another child. (What can we say? Our house-warming parties are super fertile!)
Then, come summer 2010 – we’re here in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Adventure is the primary reason my wife and I had left the U.S. for Prague in 2006, and we are NOT your stereotypical backpackers. In short, adventure drives people of all ages, all kinds, and all sizes, to make what seems to others some rash decisions. And when you’re sick of the status quo, you do whatever needs to be done.
Want to do a final test? “Pinch yourself.”
That’s how we wake ourselves when sleeping, right? Then “pinch yourself” awake from sleepwalking by stepping well outside your comfort zone. Take a Leap of Faith and Scare Yourself Silly.
Some Ideas How to Pinch Yourself Awake:
- At work, organize and present a topic completely unrelated to work. (think Toastmasters)
- Try a new sport – take up running, skateboarding, swimming. Less experience, the better
- Get a major adrenaline rush – do a bungee jump, skydive, tell a Baptist to go to hell (testing if you’re still with me)
- Contribute to the community – volunteer as a pollster, in a food kitchen, read books at a daycare
- Take up an instrument – you’re not getting any younger….go ahead, dust off the guitar
- Move abroad. (oh, you knew I had to add this one, right?)
Hope this has been helpful. If you have any comments or thoughts for me – leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.