When traveling, Travis and I have a tendency to pack as much into a day as physically possible. There’s just something about having a limited amount of time that makes seeing and smelling and tasting as much as possible seem necessary. Between all these new adventures, keeping the blog running, and sharing our experiences on social media we are busy.
It isn’t just travel that keeps us busy. Looking back over my life I struggle to find a time that I wasn’t busy, summers as a kid are the time that come to mind. Prior to travel there was a full-time job and before that university and a couple part-time jobs. For the past ten years I’ve been too busy to do anything but wish for the freedom of unemployment, and now that my wish has come true I find myself creating work to stay busy. This working from home thing isn’t turning out the way I planned.
While trying to break into the world of travel writing and blogging, somehow I’ve convinced myself that if I’m not busy at all times of the day I’m giving up on our dreams. Surely if the writing isn’t flowing I can post to Facebook, set up a Trover account, or reorganize our two dozen Pinterest boards because they aren’t optimized for sharing. Even at night, after a full day at the computer, there is a nagging voice in my head telling me to keep working. Without a formal boss I can only rely on myself for direction and it turns out I’m a real hard ass.
Looking to the leaders of the travel blogging community, every single one of these success stories attributes their achievements to hard work. Sometimes also to luck, but always to hard work. And what are they supposed to say? Anyone worth listening to isn’t going to spout off about how they have more raw talent than the rest of the pack, or admit to making the right connections early on and climbing into the pockets of big travel business. Even if they did, there is certainly still a degree of hard work in getting to where they are now.
However I’m beginning to think that attributing success to hard work is misleading; watch a hamster on a wheel sometime and tell me he’s better off for all the energy expelled. Instead of hard work I’ve decided to focus on is smart work, the idea of working efficiently for periods of time instead of just running around getting nothing done. A much harder thing to master than simply working hard. For many, the most desirable characteristic of succeeding as a travel blogger is the lifestyle it offers, one of endless adventure, exotic locales, and flexibility. And while the lifestyle isn’t void of hard work, many bloggers and writers spend more time working than they would in a traditional setting, it is also impossible to achieve while running on a hamster wheel.
So this is what I am learning: Regardless of whether or not I succeed in the travel writing industry, I need to learn to work efficiently if I want the travel writer lifestyle. I have to work on the tasks that will move me closer to my goals and be ok letting everything else fall through the cracks. I need to accept that there are times to work as hard as I can and other times to sit back and live my life, knowing that what I’ve done is enough – that I am enough – and enjoy the world around me.
Staying busy is comfortable, it is the peace of mind to quell my internal fears that I just might not achieve everything that I want, but it’s also futile and wasteful and unnecessary. Staying busy may calm my mind but it won’t get me further ahead. For that I need to get off the hamster wheel.