There I was, minding my own business, going about life as usual: Wondering how to tone armpit fat, substituting vodka for water, telling lies to small children (actually the boogieman will beat your ass) and thinking horrible things about other people.
And then I flew to Guatemala last week.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Guatemala, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you probably haven’t thrown on a poncho and andale-ed on down recently. Neither had I. But let me tell you a little something about good ol’ Guatemala: It will wet your business panties.
You didn’t expect me to say that, did you.
Over the past couple of years, I’ll admit: I’ve become relaxed when it came to travel & adventure & batting my eyelashes around foreign countries. I’ve stayed put. Kept my head down. Did good work. Wrote award-winning copy. (Actually the award was for, “Most Likely to Burn Down the Internet”–probably appropriate.) Built useful things. Made my clients a lot of really great money they deserved. Collaborated with smart people. Finished developing The Six Appeal Process, my own framework for writing emotionally-grounded copy. Ran an international business retreat in Costa Rica where the proceeds helped a displaced Nicaraguan woman start an empanada business. Re-wrote & re-released my original book in a 30 day program format, “You Don’t Need a Job, You Need Guts.” Stood up for what was right when I was wronged. Started painting. Started jogging. (And then stopped painting and stopped jogging, but that’s neither here nor there, right?) Unearthed the real book I’ve been trying to write for years now. And learned that the reason I’m such a shitty tea drinker is because I forget to DRINK THE TEA. (Suspicious this doesn’t happen with other certain beverages.)
By having such intimate relationship with my work, one thing had become clear: I had stopped traveling like I used to. Like that time I just up and flew to Paris. Or when I randomly bombed down to Ecuador. (Note: “down to” are pretty important words in this sentence.) The time I spent living in Barcelona, or the years I spent living in Chile.
And yet, reasons like these were the very reasons I originally began my first copywriting business back in 2006, nearly a decade ago. Not to travel well, but to live well. Because I couldn’t figure out how people are just fucking okay with rotting away on a squeaky rolley chair until they’re seventy and decrepit, wondering where the time went. I couldn’t figure out why, what seemed to me to be a poor standard of living…was the voluntary standard of everyone. And for the love, I couldn’t figure out why everyone was okay with doing all of this–giving up their entire lives, their best years, the secrets they’ll never discover about themselves–just to be broke and pissy and whiney and unhappy in some dumb little rolley chair.
So when I arrived in Guatemala, it reminded me, once again, why I’ve busted my tail for so many years, doing all the hard work that most people simply don’t do: In order to have experiences that most people simply don’t have.
I don’t care if it’s Monday at nine, or Thursday at three: There are much more interesting things you can be doing with your time than answering some nitwit’s email. (And there are a lot of nitwits in this world, which is why I’m refusing to soften that statement.) This is precisely why I’ve always preferred my career to bend itself around my life, instead of having to bend my life around my career. Most people are afraid they’re going to miss a business opportunity; but they forget about the life opportunities they’ve got to give up, instead. It’s called opportunity cost for a reason: Because somewhere along the line, you’re going to lose. The good news, however, is that you get to pick what that is.
And that’s why doing things like jaunting off to Guatemala is necessary. Because when there are jumbo volcanoes shading the cobblestone streets below them, and those streets are weaved artfully through a checkerboard of eccentric little nooks and alleys and shops and crayon-colored buildings, challenging you to come play a January game of hide and seek?
You say yes.
Remember: Building a business isn’t about building a business; it’s about building a meaningful existence. And that’s one thing none of us can afford to lose.
So do yourself a favor:
Find the nearest jumbo sized volcano.
Let your hair down.
Blow that creepy old man a big old kiss.
And say yes.
After all, your business was made for moments like these.
…But that volcano?
Was made for moments like you.