Even though you have a good life, do you ever find yourself feeling like something is missing?

A friend (let’s call her Sheila) once told me about how she and her husband worked jobs they loved and made good money. But they felt like they never got to see their kids, except for a couple of brief hours in the evenings. They loved their family but, after work, school, and activities were done for the day, they had little chance to spend time together.

On the surface, their life looked good. Perfect, almost. But, deep down, Sheila knew something wasn’t quite right.

Unfortunately, “perfection” can be an illusion.  

Even though things seemed fine in her life, Sheila often found herself gazing into the bathroom mirror at night, whispering to herself, “What is the meaning of this life? Why am I here? Why don’t I feel happy?”

It’s easy for us to pretend that everything is wonderful, but often we know deep down that our life is not all it’s cracked up to be. What are we hiding from ourselves?

My advice:

  • Trust your gut and listen to that tiny voice that hints something isn’t right.
  • Question why you’re doing what you’re doing. What’s your motive? Was this your idea or are you simply following convention?
  • Question convention and the rules that shape and define it. Who benefits from these rules being followed, anyway?
  • Sometimes you need to shake up your perfect life and see how things settle for you afterward. Check your patterns… priorities… and path… Are these things serving you or are you serving them?

Your life might look smooth on the outside.

All the work gets done, all the bills get paid. You can’t really complain about anything. Everything seems perfect and you’ve followed the path you *should* for your whole life. But still…you feel like something isn’t quite right. Try roughing out the smooth edges of your life and see what rises to the surface. Even if things look perfect, they might not feel perfect. It might be time to look more deeply.

Ask yourself: What secret dreams am I harboring? What needs to change? Am I living my own dream or someone else’s? Is my life infused with soul, or am I simply going through the motions? Will the path I’m on now cause me to have regrets in the future?

How can I find the time to look more closely at my life? 

A travel sabbatical, of whatever length, is a very effective way to step out of your comfort zone and take a fresh look at things. Spending time in a foreign place gives you the opportunity for introspection. It can be a cleansing experience–for the whole family.

Traveling together for however long gives you plenty of open-ended time to spend with your family. It’s a great way to clear out the regular schedule brought about by work and school and kids’ activities and spend the time instead bonding and getting reacquainted. We all say that our kids grow up too fast. A family sabbatical is a great way to slow time down.

Travel has a transformative power. It can be a retreat from your regular existence, during which time you can reevaluate your life and goals and possibly make changes that bring you greater fulfillment. Sometimes you just need to step back and look at the big picture in order to see it all more clearly.

Exiting your normal life for at least a short while will help you gain a critical distance from the life you normally live. You’ll be blessed with eyes that see what’s really important. You’ll have epic moments with your traveling companions.

And you won’t regret it.

Do you feel the need to shake it all up? Or do you have a story about how travel has helped you change your life or your family’s life for the better? Tell us about it in the comments below.