Adam Pervez is no stranger to traveling. He’s been to 47 countries and has lived in six. “I am a master at hit and run travel. I arrive, run around like a madman for three days, see the museums and monuments, and leave feeling like I know the place. Yet I often don’t get a chance to talk to a local person!”
“After college I took a job with an oil services company in the Middle East that allowed me to travel extensively. I then did an MBA in Spain and ‘redeemed’ myself by working for a wind power company in Denmark. By all accounts, it was the perfect job in the happiest country in the world. It really was exactly what I thought I wanted – a comfortable life with stability and nothing to worry about. But it didn’t take long for me to start questioning, well, everything!”
“My job was a good post-MBA position, but I felt utterly purposeless. I get no satisfaction from making PowerPoint presentations or Excel spreadsheets. In business school we talked ad nauseam about creating value. I was creating value for my company, but I felt that as a person I was losing value every day I went to the office.”
That’s about to change as he is in the process of transitioning from corporate tool to nomadic fool and heading out on his “The Happy Nomad Tour” in August.
How I Developed The Happiness Plunge
I realized I was not alone and many of my friends and colleagues felt the same way. Many feel trapped by debt, societal/family pressures, or other reasons that prevent us from pursuing the life we actually want. Such desires for change are dismissed as fleeting thoughts since you can’t change the system – but you can create your own system!
I started at the most basic level and asked myself what my goals are in life and what my passions are. I found it sad, yet telling, that I had never had such an important conversation with myself before!
I “discovered” my passions are writing, traveling, learning and teaching, telling stories, and helping others. I let this ferment in my mind for a few days and then I started preparing for my Happiness Plunge into a life I designed to give me the fulfillment, challenge, and purpose no corporate job ever could. The Happy Nomad Tour was born.
The Happy Nomad Tour
I will backpack throughout Central and South America, Southeast and South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa staying off the beaten path living in rural, traditional communities. I won’t be traveling only to discover myself. My main purpose for the trip is to understand happiness among the world’s underprivileged and share these ideas, philosophies, and lessons learned with the wealthy West. I will act as a bridge between these two worlds since I believe that many of the solutions to this rampant dissatisfaction with modern life are found in simpler, traditional lifestyles.
I know the hospitality and generosity I will encounter during my trip will far outweigh what I can offer, but I plan to volunteer at local organizations everywhere I go. I will also draw upon my engineering and MBA background to look for ways to sustainably improve quality of life in these communities.
I will share my story at local schools and universities along the way, impressing upon the students the importance of pursuing their passions, and show them that it’s ok to take the path less traveled.
This is the easy part. I’m not doing much preparation at all! When I lived in the Middle East I would often get vacation time without prior notice due to unexpected problems on the oil rig. I am used to arriving in a city or country knowing nothing about it and figuring everything out from scratch. And I prefer that, to be honest. The more you prepare for a trip, the less room there is for the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings to really impact you and create an impression.
Instead, I will do something I have not been good at – going with the flow. I have friends in many countries thanks to graduate school and my work experience, so when possible I will rely on them for advice, opportunities, and a couch for a night or two. I’ll also use CouchSurfing forums to ask locals where I could volunteer and stay in upcoming destinations.
The Case Study
I don’t advocate anyone take the same plunge I am, but I do advocate the process I went through to find your passions in life and to design the life right for you. I’m my own guinea pig for the theory, so let’s see how it goes. But one thing is for sure – I’m in for the challenge and experience of a lifetime!