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5 Reasons People Don’t Travel and What to Do About It! (PART II: TIME)

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” - Harvey Mackay

Last week I started a 5-part blog post on the five reasons that people don’t travel. These include money, time, planning, fear, and loved ones.

This week we continue with one of the nastiest and most pervasive excuses: BUSYNESS. Seriously folks, it’s a plague. I often say I can’t do something because I’m too busy.

The reality of living in a modern, capitalist society is that we are all time poor. If your days are anything like mine, they are mostly filled with things you have to do but don’t really want to, followed by things you do to feel better from doing what you don’t want to do.

Happy hour, anyone?

Even as I write this blog, I’m tired. I woke up at 6:00 am this morning to get ready for work. I commuted an hour, worked for 8 hours, and commuted an hour back home. Once home, I went straight to cooking dinner, washing dishes, and other housework. Other days it’s the laundry, the gym, grocery shopping, cleaning, family time....

By 8 pm, I finally have “free time.” I really just want to watch a movie and relax. But instead I write. Tonight, it takes every ounce of motivation.

Our busy days leave us little time to do what we actually WANT to do. It’s no wonder that so many people walk around numb, bored, or depressed. It’s no wonder we have sayings like happy hump day and TGIF o celebrate the end of the workweek.

Unfortunately, on weekends we often want to chill and do nothing so we can muster the energy to start the cycle all over again come Monday.

This is all the time we have, folks.

Life is not going to get less busy or less challenging. In fact, the older we get, the more responsibilities we have and the more people demand of us. So, when do we find the time to actually do what we love?

We must make it a priority.

Any of these phrases sound familiar?

“I can’t take the time off of work. They wouldn’t be able to handle things without me.”

“I have too much going on right now. It’s just not the right time.”

“Maybe next month… next year… once the kids are older… once things settle….”

We all have the same number of hours in the day. Lifestyle factors in - some of us have more responsibilities than others - but what we accomplish has less to do with the availability of time and more to do with our priorities and discipline.

I can’t tell you how to set aside time for yourself. You have to decide it’s important enough. But I can tell that the cost of not investing in yourself is much higher: stress, fatigue, dissatisfaction, strained relationships, and regret.

Prior to booking my trip to Peru (which was amazing!), I was starting to feel anxious and out of touch with myself. I was working hard to pay my mortgage, my car, my bills, and feeling drained when I realized I didn’t have the time or money to do the thing that makes me feel most alive and connected to universe.

I realized a few other things....

First, take the time off of work (and family) and stop feeling guilty about it.

Unless you’re the only doctor in a remote hospital dealing with a life or death situation, you can take a week or two off without adverse impacts. Trust me. No one will die! That pile of paperwork, to-does, clients, and projects will be still be there when you return.

You may have hundreds of emails waiting for you, and it may seem insurmountable or not worth the trip. But I’ve found that emails left unanswered often have a way of resolving themselves. I’ve also found that when I’m out of office, others step up to plate and things miraculously get handled. If it’s that urgent, someone will take care of it.

Just think, somewhere in Europe, folks are taking six weeks of vacation, and it’s perfectly normal. If you are one of the lucky Americans that get paid time off, TAKE IT. I have coworkers who have accumulated “too much” vacation time because they haven’t used any of it.

I always use my vacation time. I’ve even taken leave without pay because three weeks is not enough for me. And you know what? NO ONE thinks I’m less reliable or less committed to my work. In fact, I consistently exceed expectations.

If you have your own business, arrange to close shop (yes, it’s possible!), arrange for someone to cover for you, or find a way to work remotely. If you don’t get paid leave, save enough so that you can an afford to leave without pay.

Second, it’s never the right time, so stop waiting for the perfect opportunity to knock on your door.

There will always be competing priorities, project deadlines, family obligations, and less-than-ideal circumstances. Do what you need to do anyway. A well-fed soul can handle life’s tribulations better than someone who is drained, stressed and tired.

Also, taking time for yourself is not selfish. You will have more to give if you take care of your needs. Think of the oxygen mask analogy: we all know we must put on our own mask before helping others.

Third, “maybe” means “probably not.” Days will easily turn into months and months will turn into years.

If you are committed to traveling (or anything for that matter), say “I will” and have a plan to make it happen.

Tell people what you’re going to do on social media and during conversations with family and friends. Once you verbalize it, it’s easier to hold yourself accountable.

Likewise, stop saying things like “maybe,” “we’ll see,” or “I’ll try.”

Our lives are full of responsibilities and to-do lists. If we wait for life to get easier before we are willing to experience it, we may find ourselves dead first. You get to choose.

Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself:

  • Am I busy with things that bring me joy and fulfillment, or am I busy with obligations that I only fulfill because you “have to”?

  • What do I say YES to and what do I say NO to (either explicitly or implicitly)?

  • Are these choices about how I spend my time in alignment with the life I want?

Next week I’ll cover the nuts and bolts of planning a trip, so stay tuned!