Goals and changing beds every 2.26 nights 

Couscous the guard turtle

Greetings from Morocco! Couscous the turtle says hi from our riad in Marrakech. He’s a bit peevish and likes to stick his head under the couch for naps. Needless to say, Couscous and I have gotten along well.

Before we took the flight from JFK to Milan on July 3rd, I wrote a draft post rebutting why this next year was not a year-long vacation. That’s how most people reacted when telling them what we planned to do. While it was not at all how I was looking at the time ahead. However, the tone came out wrong. The draft didn’t successfully convey the message and feeling I was going for. Besides, most people were happy about it being a year long vacation. It wasn’t something that needed defending. 

With time comes clarity.

I knew there would be an internal struggle for me that would show up at some point. The first wave was while we were in Berlin, and I thought to myself “I could go back to work.” As crazy as that may seem to you.

For years, I have idolized those who would take a year off to travel or had a gap year before or after college. They may have traveled differently than us and/or traveled at a different age that made it a different experience than the one we’re living. Doesn’t matter. Getting out there and seeing things on a long-term track and covering a lot of ground was what mattered to me. Also, getting to at least a few places that are hard to reach when you only have a week to holiday. Thankfully, I married right and have an adventurous girl by my side while we’re living out one of our dreams. We’re also surrounded by incredible (and helpful) friends who’ve been on similar journeys, here, here, and here.

Now, at more than two months in, we continue to go back and forth on the balance we’re striking with the frequency of moving and checking off the checkboxes versus settling in and living a little. In fact, I don’t think we have a balance, and I’ve written such here before. We’re off kilter and moving a mile a minute. Our average, as of July 4 through September 25, is moving to a new location every 2.26 nights. Fueled, in part, by my love for checking boxes.

We cannot keep this pace up. Mostly for our own sanity. Also, moving a lot comes with a lot of costs. Our planning has sketched out our rough path from Morocco to Spain and Portugal, and then London for almost two weeks. We have a flight booked from London to Nepal, a rough three-week plan for Nepal, and a rough idea for India ending in mid-December after a retreat. I think we’ll see our pace slow down some in India, and certainly afterward. We’re making plans with friends for New Years celebrations in Indonesia, and considering signing up for a race in Chang Mai in mid/late January. All this to show a few anchors that we are now using to ponder a two or three week let somewhere versus the usual two or three nights. 

With the slowing pace, I think we need a project. This writing has been one to an extent and so has the photography. I’m looking forward to one day decorating our imaginary house with a couple big prints of the photos either of us falls in love with. However, thinking long-term, working on something that could provide some value-add or return later on, or providing some sort of part-time help or consulting could go a long way. Giving something, while we trek along and begin a more ‘living abroad’ type pace.

Thinking of projects made me reexamine my long-term goals, which we did a lot of in business school. Moreover, that made me think about goal setting in general and some of the goals I created for this trip before leaving. I came to the realization that I think we’ve been doing it wrong. Most my goals for this trip are about trying to make permanent changes in myself, but through lofty and sometimes abstract statements.

Don’t discount the need for achievement via long-term goals. That remains. But in trying to instill growth and change in myself, I think setting big far away goals isn’t the way to go alone. I’m taking this from Brad Stulburg’s research, where many of the performers and athletes he interviews reveal them pushing just one more inch forward each time. Knowing where their performance line is, and setting their mark just barely out in front of it. This method accepts and expects failure. For example, if you want to learn to ski, you will need to fall down many times to keep learning and get better. You only want to make sure your learning and risks don’t take you over the cliff. Further, if you never fall down, you’re not learning to ski.

Your knees should shake. You should fall down. You should fail. You should feel uncomfortable. You should go where you haven’t yet been.

Therefore, I’ve created a daily checklist that I have to mark off on my phone. Red or green on a list that regenerates daily. The only long-term aspect of the interface is creating streaks and knowing that by creating massive and consistent streaks I become closer to creating a habit.

My thinking here is around creating good habits and rituals. Ones that create a healthier and more resilient me, one that is more capable of attacking the long-term goals that inevitably still hang high on my mind. This year was not just meant for us to see the world, but for us to become better humans. Better at our relationship, better parents (one day), better friends, better employees, managers, mentors, business partners, and so on. 

For now, I’ve started with a list comprised of:

  • 100 push-ups (I’m still at 75 and working up)
  • run/exercise (we’ve been location dependent on this one, lots of ups and downs)
  • stretch (yoga counts)
  • meditate
  • >14 hours fasting (study, more readable, personal account)
  • no complaining
  • no added sugar
  • read
  • write >400 words
  • a just manageable challenge

Three weeks of majority green feels good so far.

Otherwise, if you have or know of projects that you think I could be helpful with, drop me a line.

Meanwhile, I’ll be working on my daily practices above and turning as much of this list to the professional side as possible. Permanently.

Be well, and thanks for reading.

Categorized as Travel

By Daniel Hatke

The author was born and raised in Indiana. After graduating from Purdue University he worked in the asset management industry in New York City. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School with concentrations in finance and entrepreneurship. Currently, he is fueling his curiosities through taking time off for extended travel and experiences in Europe and Asia, as chronicled here.