Is your vision getting blurry?
I’m not talking about your eyesight, I’m talking about your vision. You know, that secret path leading to the promised land, your ultimate goal. Goals beckon to us across time and space. They fill us with determination and optimism and purpose. Each one is like a great big X on an old treasure map. But I’m talking about vision here, the metaphorical series of twists, turns, and switchbacks leading to that X.
Yesterday, I was legally blind.
Nevermind the X, I woke up without the merest shred of a map. I questioned the entire Traveling Savage project, and all it took was a couple of rough days in the office and accidentally using bodywash to shampoo my hair. What was I actually going to do in Salta? What would I write about? Was I actually going to leave my job with these questions unanswered? What was I thinking leaving Sarah for a month at a time? And on and on.
Point being, vision is a temperamental and tenuous thing, like a dandelion gone to seed buffeted by spring winds. It is vulnerable to the slightest setback (i.e., head full of bodywash) and barest breath of doubt from the lizard brain. Without vision, we are off the map in no-man’s land. Our goals recede into nothingness and we unerringly return to the routine, trodden path.
But a vision gets stronger with age, and it’s possible to find the way back to it. Perhaps it’s easier if you know you simply can’t stay where you are now. That’s where I am. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got future travels perpetually in your mind’s eye. You’ve been planning to trade in your briefcase for a backpack for months now, toiling away and stockpiling cash like a squirrel gathering walnuts in the fall. You stoically weather each day in your current position, the politics you used to accept now grate and scar you. But you persevere, led onward by your vision.
So how did I let my vision get blurry so quickly? This venture of mine has so many moving parts and I’ve never been the most meticulous of note takers, but we can say negligence and move on. The most important (and admittedly simple) thing I should have done was write down my goal in detail. I need to see the X before I can follow the path to it. Instead, I let the purpose of Traveling Savage simmer in my head, and over time it evolved to become multiple somewhat-conflicting goals. Not good.
Once I’d captured the goal, the next thing I should have done was create vision milestones along the way to reaching the goal. When I cooked up Traveling Savage, I was staring many long months in the face. Any vision will falter at some point in such a long time period. Milestones are like little way stations where I can replenish my confidence and keep optimism and momentum at peak levels. They also make a great reality check. As much as it sucks, I need to be honest with myself about the feasibility of my goals as I progress toward them, especially when major life and financial changes hang in the balance.
These two tactics alone would have provided an effective riposte to any doubt creeping into my thoughts – I could just go back and read my goal and milestones. The best defense of vision, however, comes when I talk it out with a supporter. I cover so much more ground when I have someone I can talk to and use as a sounding board. Sarah is a huge supporter of Traveling Savage (obviously) and she really helped me cut through my doubts. It’s like technical support for a vision.
I’ll be the first person to admit this is pretty basic stuff, and I think I avoided it because it felt too much like “work.” You might be wondering how my vision cleared up. Well, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself by trying to know exactly what I’d write about and what places I’d need to go. Talking through it with Sarah, I came back to my original muse: culture through the people. I was beginning to over plan at the expense of slow travel. Now, I aim to Couchsurf in Salta, meet the locals, expats, and transplants, and let life take the lead. I’m confident I’ll have plenty of insights to share along the way.
Is your vision blurry? Have you got things crisp and clear now? I’d love to hear your thoughts!