Back in 2014, I made a promise to myself that I would visit a foreign country, preferably one I had not visited before, every even-numbered year. I designated every even year primarily as a means to give myself enough time to prepare my schedule and my finances to be able to travel every other year, and I also chose that interval because I felt a strong itch to visit a foreign country in 2014.
Why was I struck with this idea in 2014? One reason was that I suddenly realized that year that I had not taken a bona fide vacation since 2007. The second and more compelling reason stemmed from deep conversations I had with my dear friend and meditation teacher, who was quickly succumbing to a very aggressive and deadly brain tumor. On more than one occasion during my visits with him, he told me, “Don’t wait to do the things you have always wanted to do, because you might run out of time to do them.”
What Rob told me really got me thinking. I thought of how my mom had a number of big dreams dashed because she had always pushed them to the side, believing that she either didn’t deserve to pursue them, or that her dreams would never come to fruition. For example, she had entertained a strong interest in travel, but she always made excuses for why she couldn’t go on vacations or getaways. In fact, the only “vacations” she ever took were when one of her siblings fell ill or died, and she had to fly to Hawaii to visit. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t think such trips should ever count as vacations, especially since they are so emotionally difficult. It’s not like my mom went to Hawaii and had a grand time at the funerals she attended.
Though I had traveled to various destinations for reasons other than the death of a relative, I knew that I had also fallen into a similar trap of making excuses about being too busy to take a vacation. So in the Spring of 2014 I decided to travel to Prague to compete in an IFBB Pro event, and figured that I would also visit Hungary, which was on my bucket list of destinations to visit.
My friend Rob passed away on April 29, 2014. After spending several weeks grieving for him, I decided to act upon my proposed travel plans to Eastern Europe. As I was planning the trip, I realized that since I would be in prep for a bodybuilding show, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy Prague as a vacationing traveler, and also realized that I would only have a couple of days to explore Hungary. I ultimately decided not to compete, and instead booked a 7-day trip to Hungary which I completed in September of 2014.
Hungary turned out to be just as magical as I imagined it to be, and I honestly felt like I was honoring my dearly departed friend Rob when I was there. By an incredible stroke of luck, I was able to travel to Sydney, Australia and Bali the following month. Satisfied with having traveled to 3 new countries, I resolved to go somewhere new in 2016.
In March of 2016, I flew to Costa Rica, adding to my list of foreign destinations and keeping my promise to Rob and myself to travel internationally in an even year. After my Costa Rica trip, I wasn’t able to save money consistently for a trip in 2018, but whenever I had a chance to set something aside, I did.
I’m proud to say that I have fulfilled my promise yet again this year, when I traveled to the Maldives in September, and to Thailand earlier this month. Both trips were absolutely amazing, and I feel spiritually richer because of those experiences. I love the fact that I am able to say that I added six new countries in the last 5 years to my foreign travel roster, and I have every intention of adding to the list in 2020. My goal is to save up for a trip to Japan in 2020, but if I am unable to save enough money to travel to that destination, I will select a more reasonably priced excursion so that I can stay on track with my travel goals.
For those of you who are curious about what foreign countries I have visited, here is the list:
Mexico (1986, 1989, 1992)
Costa Rica (2016)
Australia (Sydney) (2014)
It will be exciting to think about what countries I will visit in the future. Some of the countries on my list include: Fiji, Bora Bora, Spain, Egypt, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Scotland, Kenya, New Zealand, Nepal.
For those of you who dream of traveling, but who always seem to find a roadblock when trying to plan a trip, how about setting a similar goal to the one I have set for myself? You would give yourself at least a year to save up money between trips, and you would be able to travel to destinations you’ve always wanted to see.
Now that Christmas has passed, it’s time for me to sit down and review my goals list for 2017, as well as compile a new goals list for 2018. I have been writing out yearly goals for over 20 years, and firmly believe that this habit has been instrumental in helping me to attain some of my biggest aspirations.
These aren’t New Year’s resolutions, they’re intentions, dreams, carrots which I hang in front of me and keep in my line of sight throughout the year. They encompass business strategies, personal goals, career development, finances, home environment, love relationships, friends, family, and health.
If you aren’t already in the habit of writing out goals for the year, I encourage you to do so. When you define what it is you want in your life, you manifest powerful energy which helps to bring those wishes to fruition. Make sure to write your goals in a notebook or binder, rather than typing them on a computer or smart phone. The mechanical act of putting pen to paper triggers areas of the brain responsible for creativity and thinking, and forces us to slow down and digest what it is we are writing.
At then end of the year, you can scan your list to see what you accomplished and what might need to be modified and put on the next list. In a typical year, I check off about 80% of my goals.
Don’t be afraid to dream big and use your imagination! The sky’s the limit!
We should all have goals which we set for ourselves, because they make us grow as individuals. We may fall a bit short on reaching our goals at times, but the journey and struggle involved in pursuing our passions keep us moving forward. That is why I honestly believe that we need to set big goals, with clearly defined blueprints which keep us focused on the finish line.
A timeline ensures that your intentions are filled with purpose, and keeps you from falling into irrational, delusional thinking. It isn’t unreasonable to reach for the stars, because you never know what you may accomplish over time. Let’s say your ultimate goal is to be the leader in your industry. Perhaps you have just launched a start-up company in which you began making products at home, and you strive to be the industry leader. Why not have that as your end goal? Who’s to say that you can’t attain the pinnacle of success in your business? There are countless businesses which started out in the same way, out of a kitchen with a shoestring budget, and which are now huge successes.
Read on to learn more about businesses which started out very small, and are now considered industry leaders:
Burt’s Bees – This company has become a huge name in natural skin care products, but it started out in an abandoned one-room schoolhouse. Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby founded Burt’s Bees in Maine in 1984, and rented an abandoned schoolhouse to make candles with the excess beeswax from Shavitz’s honey business. Quimby also began crafting homemade skin care products from the wax. Burt’s Bees became incorporated in 1991, and by 2007, it was bought out by Clorox for $925 million.
The Yankee Candle Company – This company was the brainchild of an enterprising teen named Michael Kittredge, who created his first scented candle in his Massachusetts home with melted crayons. By 1975, the first store opened, and the business spread thoughout Massachusetts. There are currently over 500 stores across the United States, and a wholesale network of over 20,000 stores is in place.
Apple – The vision of Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniack and Ronald Wayne resulted in the trio establishing a business in 1976 out of a garage space in Cupertino, California. The Macintosh line was introduced in 1984, causing their business to explode. Apple has established its unquestionable foothold on the world of technology with revenues of over $14 billion yearly.
Google – Another brilliant trio created this household name in 1998 in a garage in Menlo Park, California, indexing web pages, and developing their search algorithm. The following year, they moved into what is now known as the Googleplex. Today, Google has made an indelible mark on the world of technology.
Mattel – Though Mattel is known as a toy maker giant, it had humble beginnings in the 1940’s making picture frames. Ruth Handler began taking wood scraps from the wood used in making those frames and crafted doll furniture from them. The doll furniture was so popular among customers that the company decided to shift their focus to toys, and by 1959, introduced a doll which they called Barbie.
Now that you have some inspiration, now is the perfect time to dream big and reach for the stars! Good luck, and may great success ensue!
Here is a list of countries I have not yet visited which I would love to visit at some point. I am excited to see what countries I actually will end up visiting!
Czech Republic (Czechia)
Virgin Islands (United States)