“Life is not just the passing of time, but a collection of experiences. Their intensity and their frequency.”
When I heard a recording of the personal development speaker Jim Rohn saying this, it got me thinking – and I decided that I wanted to use my time in a more fulfilling way. The recording went on to describe the idea of collecting experiences and creating a rich tapestry for one’s life.
All of these ideas resonated with me, and, having decided I want to travel more, I went to work on making my own “bucket list” of the places I wanted to visit, and the experiences that I wanted to have.
Dentistry and Work
Working as a dentist, I found it hard to take “time out”. The idea of being away seems to be in conflict with being in practice; financially, dentists are compelled to be in surgery and are remunerated primarily by doing more and more treatments. Within the dental practice there is always something going on and there are myriads of organisations and people to keep happy. Unlike other professions, there is not the option to work remotely. Dentistry is also a high pressured profession with a high incidence of substance abuse, as well as an infamously high suicide rate! Perhaps for me then, the idea of travelling, and seeing more of the world had an element of a means of escape.
With the calendar and, together with our practice manager, I started by blocking off more regular times to be away. The Christmas & New Year period (whilst not necessarily being the cheapest time to travel) were the easiest and least disruptive times. With more consistent and regular trips abroad, I found it really gave me a mental boost, both in the run up to the trip itself, as well as when I returned. I felt invigorated and refreshed.
One year, I took out the year planner and consciously decided to block off at least a few days to be away, every 6 to 8 weeks. Sometimes, I would be lucky to be able to combine some time off with some CPD in a place I wanted to visit. This was great as it was also a tax efficient.
The Benefits of Travelling
I found that the act of removing myself to go and explore yielded many benefits; The actual physical distance away, as well as an exploration of a new environment, the disruption of a day to day routine – all of these things, helped to give me a sense of clarity. I also enjoy meeting new people and being exposed to new things, new ideas and different cultures. These experience’s in turn, have led me to challenge some of my own views and beliefs.
Frequent travelling revealed desires I did not even know I had – such as wanting to learn scuba diving when I was in the Caribbean, Salsa dancing when in Cuba, to learn to cook great food in Thailand, or just to communicate and be understood – in rural villages in China. The desires that stick with you, you actually bring back, and can act upon and to learn that new talent, new skill or language.
I have managed to travel extensively to various continents and I have found that personally, I have got the most value from travelling to places that I knew very little about. Seeing, first hand, how other people live their lives really put my own life into perspective and has led me to become humbled, with a greater sense of gratitude for the many blessings in my life.
My Favourite Part of the World
My favourite part of the world so far is the Far East. I love the different cultures, the food, and of course the weather. For me, it is an area of the world I can go back to repeatedly with it still being appealing.
One challenge I have found in my travels to day, is getting the “travelling bug” and this leads to an ever expanding list of place to get to. Travelling is not for everyone; it can be costly, and there is always the opportunity cost to be considered as well, but – with studies that suggest that “experiences” rather than “things” lead to greater happiness – I would certainly encourage it….
Dr Sanjit Chaudhuri has so far travelled 79 countries and his bucket list has a target of 100. He also is the owner of a well established dental practice in East London – TLC Dental, which has now been established for over 15 years.