He seemed surprised, but very happy, about how great things had been going.
I had just told him about my last 6 months of travel, Costa Rica and New York, and the success I’d had with my business during the time.
So I was surprised when he asked:
“So when do you plan to settle down and set up more structure in your life?”
Since he was an ADD/ADHD expert, I would have thought he already knew my answer to that one.
“Most likely never”. I mean, I love having certain consistencies in my life: Friends, Family, Exercise and of course Entourage and How To Make It In America re-runs.
But do I really need a white picket fence and an identical day to be “settled” and at my best?
I think not.
In fact, I think new experiences and the excitement that comes with long term travel and moving cities actually calms my work and personal life. I believe by adding healthy excitement to my life I am more stable and productive in my business life.
To be clear, I am referring to living for a few months in one place at a time, in a nice (and furnished) apartment, not to backpacking and staying in hostels.
So, continuing on this theme, here are:
7 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Should Travel
(AKA why you should travel)
Why You Should Travel – Benefit #1:
Failure is Not an Option
When I booked my first one way flight to Costa Rica I didn’t have much more than one month’s living expenses in the bank and a lot of my business was coming from direct face to face contact. This was a huge unknown: “What if I leave and then can’t get any business anymore because I can’t meet with people!?” I faced this fear and when I booked that flight something magical happened…I started taking life a little more seriously and my business exploded. I wasn’t about to be broke in Central America.
For someone who has been half-assing their “business” I strongly suggest hopping on a plane and forcing yourself to either step things up or fail like a champ.
Why You Should Travel – Benefit #2:
You Learn To Be Extremely Comfortable with Change
Success requires change. Quitting a job, a business, a relationship. All are massive and scary changes.
For example, a friend of mine emailed me and said he was planning a trip to Europe in 2014, maybe 2013. I laughed and said I don’t even know where I will be living in 3 months.
The more you travel, the more comfortable you become with “the unknown”. Without a doubt, I believe “the unknown” is the single scariest thing on earth; and ultimately one’s comfort with the unknown is a reflection of their confidence in themselves and their ability to handle anything.
Like everything else, your comfort with change is a muscle and follows you in all areas of your life. Learn to show up in a new city without a place to live and you suddenly become much more comfortable and confident taking on new business challenges.
“You can throw me butt-naked in the jungle and I’ll come out with a chinchilla coat, a leopard hat, and ten pounds heavier”
-Puff Daddy, Notorious Movie
Why You Should Travel – Benefit #3:
It Forces You To Do Things Right
Many wannabe (sorry, but its true) entrepreneurs are doing just about everything wrong. This includes attending tons of free networking events and meet-ups, having coffee lunches, and relying on referrals for business. TRUST ME, I spent years doing this, and it is SO SO WRONG.
When you put an ocean (or at least a state line) between yourself and your business, you are forced to do things right. This includes implementing proper communication systems for your team, establishing communication rules and expectations with clients, and developing marketing systems that don’t rely on meeting for coffees.
I’ve only met with a handful of clients over the last year, and it was always AFTER we’d worked together, and was always for a few beers or glasses of wine because I just really liked the person.
Why You Should Travel – Benefit #4:
You’ll Have Increased Productivity Because You’re Happier and More Challenged By Life
“In Theory” the most productive environment should be an empty, quiet room with a constant supply of food and no distractions. In reality that is the least productive environment for many entrepreneurs, especially those with ADD/ADHD.
We have certain human needs that we have to meet such as human contact exercise, excitement, learning new things and, well, happiness. When we meet these needs we’re able to work at a much higher level of creativity, focus and productivity.
Why You Should Travel – Benefit #5:
You Learn To Stay Cool When Unexpected Things Happen
I’ve actually had all smooth travel experiences so far. But of course little things do come up. Dealing with mini-crisis while you travel will prepare you to handle them in your business. Without a doubt, I am now 10,000% calmer and more relaxed in my business. Despite deadlines or financial pressures, I almost never get worried. This has translated into huge productivity and happiness gains, since stress and worry is the biggest killer of productivity and focus.
Why You Should Travel – Benefit #6:
It Keeps You Sharp
You know how they say people’s brains start to erode when they get married, settle down, stick to the same job and then eventually retire? Well, it’s safe to assume doing the opposite of the things that melt your brain probably keep it operating at full capacity. Heck, studies have shown that even brushing your teeth with the opposite hand or walking a new route to work creates physical changes in your brain and keep you sharp.
Use or it lose it they say. Nothing, NOTHING, will keep you as sharp and your brain as atuned as completely changing your environment every 1-6 months. New people, new culture, new langauge, new currency…it keeps all areas of your mind sharp.
Why You Should Travel – Benefit #7:
Changing External Environments Helps Cement Your Character
Moving to a new environment gives you an edge in breaking bad habits and keeps your mind from getting stale. Paradoxically, it also helps to cement your character.
As your external environment is consistently changing, you naturally reduce how much you let it influence you. You start to become your true self more and more, and your true traits (not those put on you by your peers or society) start to shine.
I’ve also found ongoing travel has allowed me to positively and consciously change my character much faster because there are much less environmental and human anchors holding me to my “old self”. For instance, 6 months ago I commented that I wanted to be more assertive and OK with confrontation. Just recently I found out my reputation here is being overly opinionated and abrasive.
-By Dan Johnston