Many people are quick to say that for long term-career fulfillment, you need to “follow your passion.” But how can you do that if you haven’t figured out what you’re passionate about? Few of us are born knowing our true calling. Figuring it out is usually a matter of trial and error and requires a little life experience. Travel can be a powerful gateway to discovering your true passions, as it exposes you to different ideas and cultures that can spark inspiration and interest in the world.
Here are some ways that traveling helps you find your passion.
1. It changes your routine.
Routine is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, success often rewards routine. However, it can be a tricky balance. It can also be easy to fall into a rut when you’re doing the same things in the same places every day. And when you’re in a rut, it’s hard to feel passionate about anything. Traveling forces you to change your routine. When you’re in a new place, you really have no choice but to traverse different streets, take different forms of transit, try new cuisines and potentially contend with language barriers.
Ultimately, this is a good thing. By switching up your routine, you may find it easier to break out of a rut. When you’re in a more receptive state of mind, it’s much easier to connect with the things that inspire passion within you.
2. It reminds you of how small you are (in a good way).
In your day-to-day life, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the world revolves around you. The danger of this way of thinking is that relatively small things like a so-so performance review or a botched presentation can loom large in your life. Travel can help shift your perspective. When you encounter things like the massive scale of the Grand Canyon or the impressive majesty of the Taj Mahal, it serves as a reminder of how trivial your everyday worries are in the scheme of things. No, this doesn’t mean you should stop caring, but this perspective shift can help you begin to think about bigger, more important things.
3. You’re exposed to new ideas.
When you travel, you’re exposed to different cultures, viewpoints, architecture and ways of living — and so much more. The expansive nature of travel can help you get in tune with your passion. How? For one, it can help you question the status quo. In observing the world, you may gain a better sense about what inspires you or what changes you’d like to see. For example, in traveling around the world, I became better educated about the environment, and environmental efforts have since become a huge passion for me.
4. It improves your communication skills.
Travel forces you to be creative about communication. For instance, how do you order a salad in Greece when you don’t speak the language? Or how do you navigate the subway system in Tokyo if you don’t understand Japanese? You need to step out of your comfort zone, ask for help and interact with others to solve these minor communication conflicts. In spite of language barriers, you may find that it actually improves your ability to communicate. Improved communication helps you connect better with others. Connecting with people often leads you in new directions in your career that can help you connect with what sparks passion within you.
5. It gives you a greater sense of gratitude.
Travel can help improve your sense of gratitude in a variety of ways. For instance, if you travel to a less developed country, you may find yourself very thankful for the products and services that you tend to take for granted at home. Even if you’re visiting a big, bustling city, you might find yourself thankful to return home to peace and quiet.
An “attitude of gratitude” will serve you in many ways in your career, and it could even help you find your passion. When you approach the world with a sense of appreciation, you’re more receptive to new ideas and trying new things.