The world feels so upside down this year. We don’t know what normal is right now. We want things to go back to how they were but have no idea when that might happen. At times it feels like we take a step forward but then the next week we take two steps back.
And the travel industry has taken a brutal hit. As I write this in early fall, some travel is coming back but it’s nothing like it once was.
In a year with so much loss and abrupt change, self-reflection might seem especially painful. Self-reflection doesn’t mean descending into a pit of despair over plans that fell apart or longing for the past. Reflection can be a profound experience that points us in a positive direction by giving us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and look at our circumstances in a fresh way.
A lot of people have a lot to say about what travel means to them, what the advantages of travel are and what you’re “supposed to” learn from it. An overarching theme is gaining cross-cultural skills.
But travel doesn’t automatically translate into cross-cultural skills. It does give us the opportunity to develop these skills. Cross-cultural skills help us work in harmony, building better relationships in cross cultural interactions. Cross-cultural competence means you can be effective in your interactions with people from other cultures. It is about your ability to understand and engage with people from different cultures effectively. Cross-cultural competence and the skills that build that competence is a necessary part of achieving professional goals.
Let’s clarify what cross cultural skills actually are. Curiosity, being informed about the world, interpersonal communication, flexibility, patience, inclusivity and understanding your core values & how they impact your attitude/behavior are all examples of cross cultural skills.
Traveling teaches a lot of people a lot of things but what did it teach me and why does it still matter in a season or seasons when I’m not traveling internationally?
Continuously reflecting on past experiences at different points of life means that different things will stand out at different times. It’s easy to forget that reflection can help us reframe our experiences and grow. Our experiences form the stories of our lives but without reflection it’s hard to find the words to express those stories.
Don’t shy away from the powerful growth opportunity that is re-entry but don’t stop at the initial re-entry phase. There is always more to learn by revisiting past experiences through the reflection process.
Honest self reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success and freedom.
Seasons of life where we take a detour and nothing goes the way we envisioned it are rough and scary for so many reasons. One of those reasons that I’ve felt is the pressure to always be growing in order to stay relevant. And it’s easy to fall for the idea that growing means doing. It doesn’t actually mean that. We can grow in any season.
It’s also easy in the quiet seasons where perhaps we know we need to transition to something else such as a new job or career to feel pressure to say the right thing about our experience or skills and yet have no idea what the right thing is in any particular new or future interaction.
When we’re feeling stuck and anxious self-reflection can feel scary and create even more stress. How do we get past that mental roadblock and actually put in the work to get positive, potentially life-changing results?
If you need someone else to tell you that it’s worth it, here you go. I’m telling you it’s worth it.
Still not convinced?
By reflecting on past experiences, you can make changes that lead to more harmonious relationships, and other positive changes in any area of your life. Self-reflection and knowing yourself more intimately can help you become more confident in yourself and your actions. With greater certainty comes less stress and anxiety.
Processing past travel experiences should help you appreciate your past and give some clarity to move forward with a greater sense of confidence in understanding yourself and what you have to share with the world.Tweet
These events are part of my story regardless of how long ago they happened. They will always have an impact. It’s in the reflecting that I reconnect with their significance in my life again and again.
There’s no one size fits all approach to how to put self-reflection into action. Do what makes sense to you. Some like journaling and letting words flow naturally. My personal favorite is working through structured prompts. In this guide I’m sharing 11 questions that have really helped me to see my past experiences in a fresh way and find new words to apply what they showed me and how they shaped me to work in my current reality.
I hope this helps you refocus and reframe your experiences no matter what your current reality looks like!
Self-Reflection Question Guide
How have I stayed connected to travel and international experiences when not traveling?
How have I used travel to develop new habits?
What have I learned about people as a result of travel?
How has travel helped me improve how I react to difficult situations?
How has travel been a window to me?
How has travel been a mirror to me?
How has travel helped me figure out what I’m passionate about?
What would I include in my personal travel manifesto right now?
What Can I draw from my past travel experiences to help me in my current circumstances?
If you could use five words, how would I describe myself based on these travel experiences?
What soft skills have I gained that can be connected or represented in travel?