A Life Engaged

Preparing For Your Journey: Defining Purpose


When we finally revealed our plan to travel, we received a lot of questions and reactions. Some responded with concern while others replied with awe and envy. Most people reason away the travel bug due to an array of responsibilities that seemingly cannot be parted with like mortgage or car payments. We had the same thoughts for years before realizing we were simply creating excuses for ourselves. In this series we will share our process and tips for finally making the leap and making it worthwhile. 

One of the most important pieces of making your journey a reality is starting a journal. This journal can be a word doc or in a physical notebook, but it is important that it can accompany you everywhere you go. Start your journal by jotting down your thoughts as you ask yourself a few very important questions outlined below. These questions are intended to help explore the meaning of your journey and build the foundation necessary to fulfill your quest.

Picture yourself leaving on an extended trip right now. Reflect on the questions below, close your eyes and really think about it. 

What is the purpose of your journey?

Answering this question may take some time and reflection. That’s okay as this is the most important question and should be revisited multiple times on your journey. Whether you are looking for a life changing experience or just hoping to gain some perspective, you will benefit from truly analyzing your objectives and defining purpose.

You will also learn that the purpose of your trip may morph and sometimes even get misplaced along the way. It is easy to get caught up in sightseeing and the numerous “10 Best Cities in Europe” blogs and articles out there, but it is essential to keep focus on the purpose of your trip.

Take ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ for example. Elizabeth Gilbert had a mission to further her understanding and enjoyment of life in Italy, spirituality in India and balance in Indonesia. Ours was less specific to location, but our mission was to explore new hobbies, careers and interests through meeting new people and experiencing cultures across the world. Writing had been a loosely pursued hobby of ours; this blog is one manifestation of our journey’s purpose to strengthen our writing.


Where will you go?

This was one of the hardest questions to answer for us. We bought a map (and we encourage you to do the same) and were overwhelmed by the options and opportunities. Staring at a map for even a few minutes is sure to stir up some wanderlust.

Start by writing down a list of locations you want to visit. Then think about your personal mission/purpose to narrow down your list. For example, if you wish to learn more about cooking, consider culinary landmarks such as Rome or Paris. This will take a lot of research but there are sure to be dozens of amazing locations that will fit your purpose.

How long will you be away?

Sometimes the answer to this question is very much tied into the answer to #1. Other times, it may be tied to other life events. It is very likely that you will miss some important events while you are gone. There were some important occasions in our loved ones’ lives that we had to miss which made decision-making difficult, but sometimes you have to take time for yourself. There will never be a 6-month period that is completely free of life events.

There you have it. Some serious life-pondering questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking of taking a self-reflection trip. Once you have these answers outlined you will have defined motivation to continue planning your journey.