Constantly on the move and far away from the creature comforts of home. To be a Stranger in a Strange Land is a real life nightmare for many. To some, it’s the thrill of a lifetime.
It’s generally uncomfortable to have to learn “Hello”, “Thank You”, and “Where is the toilet?” in a new language while you are doing mental math trying to figure out how many Myanmar Kyat you should be paying for a bowl of white rice with three fatty pieces of beef and a heaping side of wilted, oily, green leaves. At this point in the mind-boggling transaction, the price of your draft beer is negligible, you’ll take one no matter what the price or brand is.
Now picture this scenario three times a day (including the beer, sorry, I’ve been reading too much Hemingway), and that’s just making sure you’ve fed yourself. The constant problem solving required to sustain a long-term, shoestring budget adventure can be so exhausting. What keeps us on the move in this constant state of problem solving? What maintains the decision to sail away from the safe harbor and seek life-changing experiences?
Small wins are the little, basic, boosts of confidence that you achieve when you need them the most. They can be anything from getting an urgent “Where’s the toilet?” question answered through a language barrier, to remembering to pack a poncho on the same day that the sky decides to dump a torrential downpour on you out of nowhere, to getting a call back on a moonshot job application (even if you don’t end up getting the job).
Small wins keep us going, they keep us on the move, chasing whatever it is we’re after on our travels or our career pursuits. My cohort of immediate-gratification-addicted-millennials needs to take baby steps and recognize each of our hard-earned small wins as we make our way towards the top of our fields, or the pinnacle of our desires. We can’t set monstrous goals and get there quickly; it’s just not how life works. You can read anomaly stories of dot-com billionaires and young Nobel Prize winners, but most success stories are the result of a long climb to the top. The more I appreciate small wins on my travels abroad, the more I realize they’re just the stuff that keeps me on my way towards goal achievement back home.
Photo: Stacking rocks as an offering to the spirits. (Bagan, Myanmar)