“In his strange cold eyes a vagrant gleam
grew wayward and blind and bright,
And Solomon put the people by
and went into the night.”
– Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane’s Homecoming
How to stay motivated while living abroad
A lot of people always talk up location independence and world travel. They try to make it sound like the ultimate experience. Something with no downsides whatsoever. You wake up and everything is great all day long.
While traveling and living overseas is fun, there a lot of drawbacks.
It can get lonely at times, you can become bored easily, and it can be hard to stay focused.
Here I have new friends, and can go out every night of the week, but it can still feel like something is missing. In the afternoon when no one is around you can start to feel completely alone. An alien in some distant land.
After some time this really starts to get to you and it becomes easy to get distracted. You end up going for a long walk, sitting around and staring at the walls, or mindlessly browsing the web. Work and obligations keep piling up and all you can do is stand by and watch.
It’s like sinking in the ocean and lacking the willpower to swim up.
There’s no logical reason for your inaction, but that doesn’t matter. It isn’t like you forgot that you’re supposed to do stuff. No, an invisible mental barrier is holding you back and hoping that you fail.
Your mindset sucks and needs changing.
The person who said “Running away from your problems won’t solve anything” was a liar.
99% of the problems throughout my life were the result of a poor environment.
When I start getting depressed I just uproot and go somewhere different. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to change cities or anything, but you should go someplace new.
The other day I was feeling down so I walked to an art museum that I’d never been to before. If you’re going to be depressed do it while surrounded by millions dollar pieces of art. It’s better than stewing at home and you’ll probably take some cool pictures that you can show your friends.
Going to gym is another good option. You can’t be sad when there’s 315 pounds of metal pushing you into the ground.
If you stay home you won’t get anything done. It’s easy to tell yourself that you will, but the hours will pass and the work will just sit there.
You’re going to have to face the consequences either way. Might as well blow off your responsibilities and have something to show for it.
Five ways to stay focused
Getting out of a slump is hard enough. But avoiding a relapse is even tougher. Once your mind is filled with negative thoughts it can be hard to push onward. You start to doubt yourself and question all your goals.
The other day I was feeling bad and then some moron messaged me to say “Your blog sucks and you’re an idiot.”
Normally that wouldn’t bother me, but I my self-esteem was already low. I ended up writing three posts that afternoon and threw each of them away, all because I was worried that they weren’t good enough.
After that I hit a wall and couldn’t write a single sentence.
It took me a good day to fully regain my drive and get back to working toward my goal.
I ended up using several strategies to refocus and I’ve listed them all below. If you’re having trouble or need to stick with something, these five tips can help you out:
1. Make lists
Several of you are probably rolling your eyes right now and thinking: “A list about lists, somebody call Michael Chabon because we’re in for some postmodern nonsense!” And yes, this might sound like lazy writing, but it actually works. Taking a piece of paper and writing down 10 goals for the day will really help you to get your work done.
I usually start with something simple, like cook breakfast and do the dishes, before moving on to something much more challenging. In the middle of the list I also try to pepper in a few fun activities like studying Spanish and hand copying great writings.
Giving yourself 10 things to do, and making a few of them pleasant, is a way to build discipline.
2. Book every waking hour
I fill my lists with 10 items because that’s how many things usually occupy my entire day.
Making breakfast, lunch, and dinner takes time. So does writing a blog post. Spanish eats up at least an hour. By the time I’m done with everything my day is over.
When you pile on too much work you get stressed and can’t do anything. It’s overwhelming. And when you give yourself too much free time you end up sitting around and getting sucked into your own head. A busy man is a happy man.
Being occupied keeps me from going crazy and it will save you too.
3. Invent new goals
Unless you’re about to die you should have future plans. A big problem with lofty goals like “move to another country” or “be my own boss” is that they have no continuation.
Once you move, you’re just twiddling your thumbs.
You must have big goals. This way there’s always something for you to work towards. Writing a book, building a blog, sculpting a better physique; those are all great goals to have. They’ll keep you busy and provide you with something to look forward to.
4. Check your diet
I love bread and baked goods. I also like ice cream. The other night I ate a half-dozen Strawberry Dreams from Dunkin’ Donuts.
While I love junk food, I always reel it in whenever I’m feeling lethargic. Making a big glass of juice, eating some eggs, and avoiding sugar helps clear my head.
If I was consuming doughnuts while depressed I’d feel even worse about myself.
Healthy meals, with junk food as an occasional reward, make you feel good about yourself.
5. Annoy some friends
At some point during the day I usually call someone up and chat with them for a few minutes. When you spend all day working alone it’s nice to be social for a little while.
Even if you’re an introvert, and especially if you’re socially awkward, you need to have human interaction. Without it your conversational abilities will disintegrate.
Plus, talking and joking around helps to relieve some of the monotony in your day and lifts your spirits. Laughing and chatting with other people is a great way to turn your attitude around.
Staying motivated overseas is tough to do. You’re in a foreign land, there’s culture shock, and you can get burnt out easily. However, it is curable. With the right mindset you can overcome your issues and get yourself back in the action.
Leaving your immediate environment, writing out goals, managing your time, creating a vision for your future, being healthy, and socializing are all important tools that will allow you to refocus.