0 Flares 0 Flares ×

This is a guest submission from Lauren from TheMadToLive.com

Have you ever been, or are you, in that inertia-filled place in your life when you wake up each morning thinking, “What the hell am I doing with my life? I don’t even have a damn clue as to where to start to answer this question! And dammit I need some coffee immediately!”

Oh, let me tell you, I have been there!

I tried my best to avoid the question by doing things like sleeping as late as my body would let me, and having Netflix binge sessions with Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black. And while my bed is incredibly comfortable, and those shows are amazing in my humble opinion, that pain-in-the-ass question never went away.

I’m sure you’ve been there. And I’m sure you already know as well, that the question doesn’t go away.

I got sick of that.

Being depressed sucks. Feeling lost and like you don’t have control of your life sucks. That feeling you get when the TV series is over and you realize you just watched 13 hours of TV in 48 hours and have nothing else to show for it except this weird feeling that you just so want Piper and Alex to freaking end up together (OINB reference), sucks.

And while I’m the first to admit I’m still answering that question and will always be answering that question, I did figure out a strategy to get started.

I gave myself 6 months

calendar

Six months to stop trying so hard. Six months to get away from it all. Six months to go explore and just try some new things out and do some things I always wanted to do. This has by far, been the greatest gift I have ever given myself, and as those 6 months progressed, the answers began pouring in naturally.

My 6 Months:

This became my plan:

  1. Three months in Guatemala
  2. Two weeks driving across the US from West to East
  3. Two months working on a farm in Maine through wwoofing.org

Here is some back story on costs and how I made these things happen:

Guatemala:

It’s one of the most affordable countries to visit in Central America. I rented a private room with a bathroom in a hotel with a beautiful view of Lake Atitlan for $5.50 a night. Food costs are low, transportation costs are low, living costs are low. Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life, and it became a sanctuary for me to just BE and relax. I spent my days learning Spanish, taking out a kayak that I rented for $1/hour, meditating in the morning and evening, and meeting fellow travelers.

Driving Across the US:

It just so happened that my cousin who lives just south of where I was in San Francisco was planning to drive across the states with his 3 little boys to his hometown in Maryland. He asked if I wanted to join and turn it into a camping adventure, and I didn’t think twice about my answer.

It ended up being one of the best two week periods of my life, not just for the adventure, but for getting to spend time and really connect and share with my cousin, and being around his amazing, adventurous, crazy kids. The constant laughing, good conversations, and life on the road lifted my spirits and awakened my soul.

Wwoofing in Maine:

Wwoofing.org lets you find farms both in the US and around the world where you get to work in exchange for room and board. I’ve met fellow travelers who’ve done this in Italy during the olive harvest, on Vinyards in France, or good ole’ fashioned vegetable farms here in the US. I’ve always wanted to see Maine, and I’ve always wanted to experience what it would be like to work off the land, to work outside with my hands, and to do this kind of labor that’s simple and body intensive.

How You Can Do These Things Too

Go To An Affordable Country

Like I said, I was paying $5.50 a night in beautiful Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Other places like Turkey’s Istanbul, Thailand’s Chang Mai, and places in India etc are also destinations where you can get a big bang for your buck. You can sublease your apartment in the US or rent out your home to help cover the costs, but even if you can’t that’s less than $200 a month for rent.

Check out Wwoofing.org and Workaway.net

Both of these websites have endless opportunities to either work for room and board. Some are even paid positions. Wwoofing is solely for working on organic farms, while Workaway.net has other opportunities like working at hostels and small businesses. Nearly all of these provide lodging, and you just need to get yourself there.

Adventures with Friends

Send an email out to your friends and family and let them know you’re planning 6 months of adventure. Maybe you have an Aunt in Arizona who’d love to have you for a few weeks, or some friends who could use some help renovating their home in Colorado and in exchange for your help you’re welcome to stay there. Or, perhaps, they need a driving partner to cross the country.

You never know what kind of adventures you may be able to line up that are just waiting for you! A lot of these places welcome kids as well if you happen to have children. You can go for a week or arrange several months. I met one guy volunteering at a hostel in the jungle of Guatemala for 3 months!

Whatever it is you want to give to yourself, do it.

How these 6 Months Changed My Life

I Found Confidence in Myself

There’s something about travel that makes you realize you’re capable of getting yourself through ridiculous, or crazy, or scary, or unpredictable situations. This happens pretty much because you don’t have a chance. When you’re traveling, shit happens!

Before I left for Guatemala I had gotten myself into this cycle of feeling very un-confident, and constantly questioning myself. I was living in San Francisco, a city full of ambitious people who all seem to know exactly where they’re going in life. It’s an amazing place to thrive and connect with like-minded people as you can find almost any tribe there. But it felt intimidating at the time since I was at such a crossroads.

It’s a terrible feeling when you don’t know if you truly believe in yourself. When you don’t know if you CAN ACTUALLY DO IT. I think every human being in general, and especially creatives and entrepreneurs, have these thoughts from time to time (and at times more often than not), but when they begin to take over, that’s when you need to get up and do something about it.

And so to Guatemala I went to do something about it.

Not only did getting away from some of the pressures you’ll find specifically in Western Cultures like America (i.e. The American Dream) help, but so did meeting other people like me: People who were living more unconventional lives, people who were traveling until their money ran out, people who were also on personal journeys and looking for something more even if they didn’t know what that more was.

I’d always felt like a bit of an outsider. I can’t stress how valuable it is to find the people who like to hang out in the same corner as you. It changes everything.

I found company in myself

sitting_alone

Imagine spending 10 hours a day, five days a week, working outside with your own two hands. You’re doing this on a beautiful family-run 6 acre farm in coastal Maine, and you’re working alongside a few other individuals who were merely strangers a few weeks ago but now you’re all in it together. You head to bed early at 9PM to be rested for the 7AM start to a day of harvesting corn, beets, squash, tomatoes, cherries, garlic, chard, and more.

The warm sun is on your back, the color green is surrounding you, a cool breeze dries the sweat off your forehead, and it’s just you and the day.
No desk. No computer screen. No sitting down all day long. No indoors all day long. No distractions to keep you from yourself. Just you and the day and good old mother earth.

There’s a certain zen to manual labor, and most of us have forgotten what it’s even like to spend that much time outside away from a computer screen in the first place! Most of us haven’t done that since we were children and we still knew how to play. The only way the majority of us use our hands anymore is by moving the tips of our 10 fingers around a keyboard.

I wanted to have this kind of experience because I wanted to spend time with myself. I wanted to work hard and use my body and tire myself and fall asleep so fast every night because I deserved it and because my body was giving me no other choice. I wanted time without distraction to see where my mind would go and, in a way, listen to it and talk to it.

I wanted to give myself the gift of time. And while it may have been “hard time” working on the farm, it was one of the best times of my life.

Why These 6 Months Will Change Your Life

Here’s the thing – I’ve actually been working for myself for years now. I haven’t had a boss other than myself for years, I haven’t had to be in the office at a certain time for years, I haven’t had to request time off for years. But something was still missing.

We often think that as soon as we become a “digital nomad” or create that passive income that we’ll suddenly be happy and have all the answers. And while those are amazing goals to achieve, that’s not the whole picture.

You’ve got to have a purpose. You’ve got to live your life on purpose. You’ve got to wake up in the morning and know what you’re working towards in the bigger scheme of things. Without that, you end up just floating on through life.

These 6 months of exploring, of being, of adventuring, or trying new things, of seeing where your interests and curiosities can take you will open your mind, eyes and heart to just what is out there.

It will take the pressure of society and the so-called “American Dream” off of your shoulders. It will remind you that life is all about the connections we make and the way we affect those around us. It will teach you about spending time with yourself, about being alone and enjoying it, and about who you are on a deeper level.

And it will open up a world of possibility as the ideas begin to flood in when you least expect it.

The only thing you need to do is plan it out and set it in motion, and go in with the intention that you are just going to simply BE so that as the days unfold you discover just who you are. Once you have that down, both your business and your life will really start to thrive. The two go hand in hand.

 

About Lauren

Lauren Rains is the founder of Wild World Creative, working with individuals, companies and nonprofits that are making the world a better place by building them beautiful and effective websites. A traveler at heart, she’s ridden motorcycles along Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan, skateboarded 30 miles from Boulder to Denver CO, and hiked along the Great Wall of China.

She writes on her blog, TheMadtoLive.com, about her pursuits in personal development, conscious entrepreneurship, and world travel. She loves to do WAY too many things to mention in this tiny bio so drop her a line on twitter at @LaurRAINS!

Want More Ass Kicking?
Join Us!
Instantly download "Your Guide To Cutting Through The Bullshit and Getting What You Want" for FREE by clicking "I'm Ready!"