So you decided that you want to take a gap year, time off from school, or deepen your educational journey while still attending classes. Wherever you are in your journey, I want to share with you how I made the world my classroom and how you can too.
It’s not as difficult or scary as it may seem. All it really takes is some soul-searching, research, and getting out of your comfort zone. The rewards will be great, and the adventures memorable.
1. Think Local and Global
Whether you’ve decided to stay at home a while to figure things out or travel (both excellent choices) - you want to make sure you think local and global. Everywhere around you is a classroom.
If you’re staying in your community - attend a chamber of commerce meeting, visit the library and volunteer, check out the local nature conservancy, visit local shops and businesses that you never did.
Look through your town, city, or suburb as if you were a tourist walking through for the first time. This fresh perspective will create new opportunities to learn, network, and connect in a deeper way with your community.
And if you’re thinking, "there’s literally nothing to do in my neck of the woods," then be the catalyst and organize a meetup. Watch how people come out of the woodwork to start creating something amazing.
If you’re going abroad, get real clear about what you want to do on your travels. Are you fascinated by marine biology? Then go on a whale watching excursion or reach out to a local university by the sea and interview a researcher or scientist.
Bring a notebook with you. Ask questions and stay curious. You never know what the conversations you may have and what adventures they may lead to.
This goes into the next step...
2. Ask Yourself What You Want to Learn
No matter where you are, ask yourself what you want to learn. Ask yourself what inspires you, motivates you, and gives you the energy to take on the day.
This does require some soul searching. A great place to start is seeing what your ideal day or week looks like. Is it filled with yoga, writing, and delicious whole foods? Or is it filled with scooter rides, beach lounging, and being surrounded by artists?
Those are just two examples. Really tune into what you love to do, what you could spend a big part of your day doing? (I have a worksheet that I give to my community of female entrepreneurs that goes through all of those important questions - you can get the ebook here. There are many books and quizzes that help out with discovering what you like to do as well).
Go to the library and peruse the aisles, these are the books that helped me on my journey to discovering what I like to do.
And it may take some time, but it will be so worth it to ask yourself these questions now so that you can start taking the actions to where you want this little adventure we call life to take you.
3. Tap into your Community
Whether you are in your local community, online group, or immersing yourself in a foreign culture - tap into it! Start conversations and build relationships with the people around you. Everyone has wisdom or life experience to share to help you grow.
See what are people struggling with, how can you use your skills and passions to serve your community? Do you feel like everyone is scattered about doing their own thing and there really is not a community feel? Then organize a meetup. Are kids in the neighborhood not able to play outside because of a lack of sidewalks? Use your writing skills to prepare a proposal. Is the foreign town where you are visiting having pollution issues? Talk with the locals and see who would be interested in organizing a trash pick up day.
There are thousands of opportunities all around you - all it takes is observation, conversation, and tapping in to the community around you.
4. Surround Yourself with Inspiration
Do you admire Elon Musk's technical prowess? Are you dreaming of traveling the world like Elizabeth Gilbert? Perhaps you just loved Frida Kahlo's determination and courage as an artist. Whoever or whatever you admire most about the people you read - realize that they were in your shoes once too.
Surround yourself with books, people, and groups that make a difference and are living authentic lives that are in alignment with their passions and strengths. They all served the world in their own way (and continue to do so).
Not sure where to find inspiring people or books?
- Tap into your community
- Get on the mailing lists of bloggers and creatives you admire
- Hop on Facebook and join a group
- Send a personal email to that Instagrammer that you love
- Reach out to your communities and say you want to start a mastermind group
5. Shift Your Mindset