Travel and the Rewards of your Goals
For Richard Yang, it’s not about the destination – it’s the journey that matters most. And he now applies the lessons he’s learned from travel to his life and career goals.
Traveling is a passion for me and I’m fortunate to be working on launching my own travel related startup. However, this is only the beginning of the journey and I look forward to the challenges. But what I want to share is not about travel related entrepreneurship; but instead the “process” from where I was to where I am.
In 2000, I graduated college and entered the world of consulting. In 2005, I decided to take a sabbatical to travel. After returning to my job and working for 3 additional years, I moved to Spain for my MBA at IE Business School. But what does all of this have to do with traveling or anything at all? It turns out everything.
When to start traveling is always a hard decision for anyone. There are obvious time advantages in terms of age and family in the decision factor; but leaving a secure job is difficult within the American social norm. I was advancing professionally and had reached my initial goals in making manager at a global firm.
While proud of my accomplishments, the sensation was fleeting. Working diligently and logging long hours, I’d forgotten to take in the process. All I knew for so long was I wanted to make manager.
I also knew I wanted to take some time to travel around the world sometime in my life. Just like my managerial goals, I approached it logically. I wasn’t getting another title change soon, so why not start my journey.
It took me a long time to adjust to the travel life. I felt antsy with the thought that I had to “accomplish” something everyday. If I didn’t, I wasn’t taking full advantage of my time off. I believed I must succeed in a new goal everyday. But as any traveler knows, this is impossible. Through time, I learned that the world does not run at NYC pace, let alone American pace. Through the journey I learned little lessons about my travel style, when to go and when to stay, and who and what to trust. I put little thought and even less appreciation into the fact that I was learning. The transformation from binary thinking to process appreciation wasn’t planned or recognized. I didn’t set out to travel to contemplate, it just happened.
Only by the end of my journey did I begin reflecting on the five previous years as a consultant. I realized why the manager title was fleeting and why saying I traveled around the world meant nothing. What mattered was the little step-by-steps you take to get to where you are. Learning from your mistakes, accepting failure, and picking yourself up again. Goals change, and will constantly change, but how you as an individual reach those goals matter more. Making the conscious decision to appreciate the process becomes valuable in everything you do – be it the initial overpacking for your journey to starting your own company.
Re-entering I had a new recognition of my goals. Within a month of returning, I was asked to relocate to India, where I stayed for 7 months. Upon finishing that project, I began working in Munich. I took the opportunities that others feared taking because the role wasn’t in the eyes of the partners or professionally glamorous. I wasn’t successful at every turn; but, with the new approach I realized the failures were no longer black marks. This philosophy encouraged me to attend an MBA outside the US. It also led me to turn down monetarily rewarding job offers around the world to pursue launching my own business.
In travel, from beginning to end, and the re-entry to home and career, think of every moment and the steps you need to take. They will be difficult & frustrating and nothing will go according to plan. But by appreciating the process and understanding that it’s part of the goal, the rewards become evident, leading to your own happiness.
As for this moment, launching my own startup isn’t like what you read in the newspapers or see in movies. Many talk about the benefits of working for yourself in making millions or having more free time; but few talk about the multiple failures before reaching success. But the process of learning and adapting has been amazing. I expect to fail somewhere. I expect to get a rejection on a daily basis. This relates beyond entrepreneurship and into everything – from traveling to even finding that next career. You will get lost. You will have to change your plans. But by appreciating the step-by-step of your journey will make the rewards personally meaningful, which only carries forward socially and professionally.
Rich Yang is a NYC based travel tech entrepreneur who founded Street Mosaic, a social, real-time travel guide. Integrating the social interaction and photography element of travel, Street Mosaic gives users a fun way to share their spontaneous discoveries with other exploration-minded individuals. Users simply log on to discover what’s interesting, nearby, and recent and we help get you there. Simply take a picture, write a caption, and share with the community.
Rich checks his twitter often and loves to hear from you. Find him at @yangwave. Street Mosaic is still in developing and testing and open for product testers. Look for our free app in the iTunes App Store and on twitter @streetmosaic.