Wandering or Traveling through Life

Bill Abbate

How is your journey through life so far? Are you going through life as a wanderer, tourist, or traveler? Let's examine these three ways of doing this thing we call life and see where we may wind up at the end.

First, we will start with a clear definition of each of these styles of living. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition for each term is:

Wanderer – [one who moves] about without a fixed course, aim, or goal
Tourist - one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture
Traveler – one that goes on a trip or journey

The wanderer

There are many wanderers in the world. How many people plan out their life? Very few. A DHM Research study found two-thirds of people do not follow a written life plan. It surprised me their number was this high. How many people do you know who have such a plan?

A survey done by GOBankingRates claims that 64% of people will retire broke, validating the DHM Research study. The more disturbing result in the GOBankingRates survey indicates 48% of the respondents don't care if they retire broke! Shocking, isn't it?

Life experience tells us that the number of people who have a written plan for their life could be far less than the one-third reported above. According to other research on setting goals, only about 3% of people have written goals! Then there is a study from the University of Scranton claiming only 8% of people who set New Year's goals achieve them! If someone can't stick to a one-year goal, how can they stick to something longer?

Those who wander through life can make many excuses to justify their lack of planning and setting goals. Some will say things like, "We all wind up at the same place, so who cares what happens in between?" Or they will say, "I don't want to be tied down. I want to see where life takes me." Or "I prefer to live free and not be shackled with things like plans." Some will even say, "It's all in God's hands"!

Those of us who have been around for a while know most people can justify anything in their minds. But whether it makes sense or not is an entirely different matter! We who have a destination planned will say such people are irresponsible and immature. What do you think?

"If you don't know where you're going any road will do." Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

The tourist

Some people are like tourists in life. They will plan, but usually more for the short-term. They want that next trip for the experience and excitement it can bring into their life. It may be in the form of that next great job, marriage, relationship, or career change. They like change and may get bored easily, so they do not hang around for long. Have you ever known such a person?

As a tourist in life, they have more immediate destinations in mind and can be great at planning for the near-term, but often fail to consider the consequences of such plans in the long-term. They are usually hopeful things will work out, but unless they are a trust-fund baby or happen to be wealthy, they can run into trouble later in their career and life.

"To be a tourist is to escape accountability." Don DeLillo (1936-present)

The traveler

To be a traveler through life is to be responsible, charting a course to where you ultimately wish to be. I tend to agree with the following words:

"I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment." Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

As a traveler, you realize what you do today and tomorrow will take you somewhere, so why not make it somewhere you wish to go? You also realize your journey is not alone. Others are with you and likely depend on you. Your spouse, children, and such often are on this journey too. You readily accept responsibility for those you love and do what you can to give them a good life.

The great advantage of being a traveler is you can enjoy the freedom of wandering at times and have memorable vacations now and then. You know these activities are sometimes needed, but they are only a stop on the way to where you wish to go.

"Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what's right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in." Andrew Zimmern (1961-present)

Final thoughts

Ask yourself, if I live 80 or 90 years on this earth, How do I want to spend it? Do I want to aimlessly wander through life, be an unsettled, ever-moving tourist, or travel the road to a good life filled with joy, love, and fulfillment?

The great thing about life is we get to choose the course we want to take. We can live it as responsibly or irresponsibly as we wish. Which of the three lifestyles better suits you? I would love to hear your take on these ideas and your viewpoint on life in the comment section below.

I leave you with the wisdom of a young man who gives me great hope for the next generation in America!

"As I'm so often reminded what a priceless gift my life is, I ache with everything in me to make it count, so that when I finally cross the finish line, I'll hear the words, 'Well done, good and faithful servant." Adam Young (1986-present)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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