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Welcome to episode #78 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this week’s episode I spoke with Nik Kennett, a professional marketer and currently on a six month sabbatical, traveling around the world.

Top Talking Points

  • Tips for personal development while on vacation or on a sabbatical.
  • Learning how to roll with the punches in order to overcome challenges and obstacles in your way.
  • Journaling while traveling so you can immortalize the experience.

Connect With Nik on his Youtube channel or at awaytogether.com

Download Nik’s free guide on taking a sabbatical

HappyLight

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Thank you for listening to this episode of The Morning Upgrade Podcast. If you enjoyed my conversation with Nik, please be sure to subscribe to the podcast and leave a review.

Episode Transcript

Ryan  

Hey guys, it’s Ryan real quick. So my mission with the Morning Upgrade blog and podcast is to raise the awareness of morning routines and personal development. And I now have two products that also helped me with this mission. The first product helps you start a 20-minute morning routine. And the second product is a book that outlines how to use personal development to upgrade your life and business. You can get full details on both products over at morningupgrade.com. Thanks for letting me share and now on to the show.

Announcer 

Welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote where we featured casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan 

Hey, Nik, welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast. How are you?

Nik  

Ryan, doing great. Thanks for having me, man.

Ryan

Yeah, I’m excited to speak with you. I know right now you’re on a six-month sabbatical traveling. I think you said right now you’re in Vienna. As we record this, I think you’re in what month three of it?

Nik 

Just crossed the three months mark, which is crazy.

Ryan  

If you want to talk about that too. No easy feat to leave home for six months. And then obviously throw in a surging global pandemic into the mix. And they’ve got some things to figure out. So I want to, I want to talk to you about how you push through that how you push through the fear, how you push through all the challenges. But first, so my audience of Morning Upgraders know who they’re listening to, why don’t we just start off with you telling everyone who you are, what you do for a living, and then what’s going well for you right now in your life?

Nik  

Yeah, well, I’m Nik Kennett, my wife, Allie and I are from Northwest Arkansas. What do I do for a living? That’s kind of an interesting question. Right now I’m a marketer by trade. I started my career in the consumer products industry and have spent a lot of time working in retail and consumer products. But right now, my wife Allie and I are on a self-funded six-month sabbatical and are traveling full time. So in terms of what’s going well, right now, I would say we’re actually on the six months sabbatical that we spent, like 15-16 months planning. So that’s cool. That’s going pretty well.

Ryan 

Yeah, I would say. So. Doing this interview from Vienna. That sounds pretty cool. So let’s talk about your morning routine. I want to talk about the trip a little bit. But you know, I always like to find out what my guests do for their mornings. I know you have a pretty detailed morning routine. I’d imagine it’s different right now with your trip. And maybe, maybe not, why don’t you walk us through what your mornings look like?

Nik  

Definitely, yeah. And beyond just my mornings, I would say a lot of my life, especially back home was broken into routines. And so I have a core morning routine that I have tried to bring as much of it as possible with me on the trip. There are other things obviously I couldn’t bring with me. But what has stayed pretty standard is I wake up, I like to wake up early when I was home, you know, that’s 5:30 or six. I don’t wake up quite as early while I’m traveling, but wake up early. Have a cup of coffee. I’m a Christian by faith. So I drink coffee. And while I do that, I read the Bible and do some prayer time. And while I’m doing that, I thought I would mention this in case it’s interesting to anyone I’m doing that, I also use a therapy light, there’s the light that I got off of Amazon, I think it’s called Happy light by Verilux. And it’s basically a product that simulates natural sunlight and it definitely helps for anyone who maybe suffers from seasonal affective disorder or anything like that. But it’s like a jolt of pure sunlight in the morning. So I have that gone. But yeah, I’ll drink some coffee and read and then right after that I do some exercise. I’m a runner, a long-distance runner. So the next thing I’ll do is try and spend some time outside running and then if it’s, if it’s an off day because I try not to run every single day I’ll have at least one maybe two rest days per week I’ll do a nice walk. And while I’m doing that I’ll listen to some tunes or most commonly an audiobook or a podcast just related to personal development is what I’m focused on at the time. And those are kind of the core things and I really don’t look at like work email or social media or anything like that until that is completely done.

Ryan  

Happy light. I have never heard of that before. I’m gonna check it out. How long do you keep it just while you’re drinking your coffee you have it on you or is it more prolonged than that?

Nik  

Honestly, You don’t, you don’t need longer than like 10 to 15 minutes. And if you do keep it on for too long, you will feel like you drank too much coffee early. It’s supposed to help your circadian rhythm. I remember once using it at like two in the afternoon and I couldn’t fall asleep that night. So like, it’s a great way to like, especially this time of year we’re recording this in January, you know when it’s dark and the days are shorter to use that in the morning and it really, it kind of helps wake you up and it helps signal to your body that like the sun is out even if it isn’t.

Ryan

Love that. I’m such a sucker for these kinds of things. But this is like, this makes a lot of sense. 

Nik

And not expensive either. 4050 bucks. So definitely yeah. I think I think the one I got was like $35 on Amazon.

Ryan 

Amazing. And have you been running on your trip? I’d imagine there are some awesome sceneries.

Nik  

Yes. Absolutely. That’s, that’s, that’s one of my favorite tips for travelers. As you know, not everybody may be a runner. But if you are, go out and run in the morning, and if not, try and walk as much as possible. It’s a good way to exercise and start your day and especially if you’re fighting jetlag to, like, you know, help you get on the timezone. But also, just to see the sights.

Ryan 

You mentioned, travel tips, let’s say on that, you know, I like this is a personal development podcast. But I think what you’re doing right now is like this six-month sabbatical, for many reasons. It’s like the ultimate personal growth experience, experiment, and would love to just get some of yours, someone else is thinking about doing the same thing. Maybe it’s not six months, maybe it’s three months, maybe it’s a year, what have you found to help? Obviously, you mentioned, you know, getting out and running in the morning, what else can you what other tips can you share about around a sabbatical?

Nik 

Yeah, I think more tactical, and more related to the trip itself, some more routine and habit-type things. One thing I’ve learned from my travels, and then it’s really been learning on this trip, drink enough water. I know, it sounds basic and sounds kind of stupid. But everyone you know, is familiar with hanger, you know, like, like, oh, I’m not going to talk to him right now, he just needs a snack, or, you know, if someone’s someone’s tired, they might be grumpy, or, you know, their decision making is affected for me. And, you know, my wife and I have found that the same is true for us, if we’re dehydrated, your water intake can affect your mood, your decision-making abilities, and, of course, your overall health. So that’s, I think, number one, when you’re taking a trip like this, whether it’s a sabbatical, or maybe you’re taking you to know, as an international trip for 10 days, two weeks, something like that. True, intentional travel, you know, not just vacation, where you’re, you’re laying on the beach or whatever. I’m a big proponent of, of journaling. And I know, Ryan, I’ve heard you talk about gratitude journaling, as part of a morning routine, I really like to use journaling, while I’m traveling as a way to, number one, capture what I actually did all sit down and journal at the end of the day, what I did that day, and where we went, what we ate, what we liked, what was unexpected, what, what maybe mishaps happened, because there’s plenty of those. So that’s kind of number one is so that a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, I could go read this. And I’ve got a documented memoir of the trip that I can remember. And it’s nothing fancy. It’s just like, oh, we went here, we did this, I was surprised by that. You get what I’m saying. And then number two, is it helps me reflect and feel grateful. And you know, just appreciate everything that I experienced that day. Those are kind of my two more personal development hack-oriented travel tips.

Ryan 

Yeah. And you and Allie are taking the journaling to a whole nother level of tenure, creating a YouTube channel and a whole series of videos that are very well done about your trip. What are your plans with those videos? It’s more just documenting your trip?

Nik  

I think number one, it’s, it’s been just so that we can document this and habit. Don’t get me wrong. I love measurement. I love analytics. So it’s to learn the YouTube game and to try and get more views and to get 1% better with each video. But this trip is a trip of a lifetime kind of experience. And it also excites us that we could come back and watch these 20 years from now or we could show him to our grandkids someday, you know, so yeah, away together with Nick anally. You know that’s just kind of a YouTube channel that we started for fun, but it’s I’ll be honest, it’s been fun and pretty addicting to learn the YouTube game.

Ryan  

Yeah, well, they’ll be linked up in the show notes. There, they’re really well done. So I definitely recommend Alright, so let’s, um, let’s talk about happiness. And I’ve known you for a few years, we’re in the same mastermind, our iron sharpens iron. And you always seem like a happy guy. I know, probably not always, but you always have you always seem like you have an optimistic viewpoint on things. How is that? How do you feed that? Is that something you’re born with? Is that something you focus on building? Like how so?

Nik 

And that is a really great question. I think one definition, you know, for me, I’m happier when I feel like I’m achieving I’m, I’m an achiever, by nature. That’s, that’s my Enneagram. I’m an Enneagram. Three. And so, you know, for me, accomplishment, and I love that feeling of productivity, I guess you could say, I’m even probably addicted to it, which is why it’s it’s been good to take this sabbatical. I think, for me, part of happiness is the climb, pursuit, and achievement of goals.

Ryan 

I can relate to that answer. I mean, I’m the same way achiever. So yeah, I find the progress making progress on things. It’s, it’s necessary to keep the mood up and be like like you said, it can be addictive, addicting those, you have to keep it in check. And I think that’s where the gratitude practice comes in being present. Yeah, you’re doing the road trips as we take. I think I resonate with your answer.

Nik 

I want to feel proud of myself. I think that is an underlying motivator for someone who has that achiever mentality and just ties into morning routines. I think it ties into private victories, as Stephen Covey called it like if I can do that if I can, you know, nail that five-mile run first thing in the morning, I can hold my head up high. And I have some confidence. And I feel proud of myself that I did that now I’m ready to take on whatever else the day brings my way.

Ryan  

100%. My viewpoint on it is like, why would you not want to try to make yourself 1% better every day. That’s just my point of view. But that’s what fuels me, I try to think about, you know, like, and my let talks about I put a blog post up about it. Brian Johnson talks about it from optimized, but basically the gap of like, where you are now where you could be, like, the best version of yourself. And that gap is huge, at least for someone. It sounds like, like for someone like me, and sounds like YouTube that if that gap is you just going to affect the way you feel about yourself and your mood and all that. So it’s an interesting concept, like if you put your all in, what would be the best version of yourself? What would that look like? And how close can you get to that? That’s why I like this personal development journey because you know, no one’s perfect. I’ve got bad habits. I’m sure you have bad habits, Nik. And like, we’re always trying to just get a little bit better. But it’s like a journey that never ends. And only to think about, like, think about this, if you show up differently, that ripple effect goes to ally and your friends and your family. And the same for me, my family. And so it’s just a really interesting concept if you let your mind wander on for a few minutes. Absolutely. Okay, I got one last question for you. And then we’re going to wrap up with you sharing how people can reach out to you, we got the YouTube channel, and maybe there’s a different site, too. So my last question for you sent me a question. What’s more, I’m just gonna let you talk. I want to because we kind of teased it at the beginning of the episode where you took a six-month sabbatical, which I’m sure there’s a lot of fear around, and obviously a lot of planning. But I want to focus more on the mindset of fear, like how you push past the fear. And then the same thing with all the challenges logistical challenges you’re running into right now with COVID. And you’re having to use it if you change your plans 10 times. So like, How’d you get through those challenges? So how’d you got to the fear of taking the sabbatical? How did you push through the challenges? With all the changes you’ve had to make? You could just talk about that, and then we’ll wrap up.

Nik  

It ties in really well because we have a story around it for sure. So this whole process, and I’ll just give you a little context, as we go this, this whole process for me started as just kind of a yearning desire that I had inside. I had gotten to do some travel when I was growing up. I was really blessed. You know, my dad owns a business and I feel like he was intentional to let me go on his business trips with him. Sometimes we took a mission trip to Peru at one point. And for me, I think that sort of kick-started this, this love of travel. And I also really love setting big, scary goals, to be honest with you. In 2020. I ran 30 miles on my 30th birthday. And I don’t even know where that idea came from for me. And I had never run an ultra marathon before. I’ve never even run a marathon before, but I was like, Yeah, I like running. I’m going to do this. And so I don’t say that to talk about running. But I say that to say that like for some reason. I just seem to gravitate toward big, intimidating goals, I almost feel like it needs to be intimidating for me to take it seriously. And so when you combine that with this yearning longing I had inside me that I guess some people call it to wander lust. I just wanted to do some extended travel or to live abroad. And I started having some conversations with my wife, Allie about it. And I was really the one pushing at first, I was like, you know, hey, what would it look like for us to get different jobs and go live in this city overseas for a year? Or what would it look like for us to move here or travel long term? And it was through a lot of conversations and a lot of soul searching with her that? Finally, she was like, you know, okay, let’s, let’s look at it from there. What helped us overcome the fears, was writing everything down. From the moment that my wife very courageously said, Yeah, let’s, let’s explore this idea. Basically, the very next morning, we had a work session in my home office, we spent probably four hours in front of a blank Word document. First of all, just write down what is our why, like, why do we want to do this? What are the reasons that we want to do this, and then it was sizing up all of the other, as one of the guys in my mastermind group refer to it, sizing up the silent roadblocks, all the little scary things, those nebulous details, in our minds that we knew that we would have to tackle, you know, for example, we owned our home? So what are we going to do with our house while we’re gone? Obviously, we had to figure out how are we going to leave work, right? My wife’s company had a six-month sabbatical policy in their handbook. And so there was a question of, okay, was she going to utilize that when we quit? We wanted to leave our jobs the right way. We had a couple of dogs. So we had to figure out, you know, how do we get to care for them? While we’re gone? Those are just a few of the things but man, I mean, we had to create a novel of all the details we were going to have to get through to do this. And it took, you know, 15 months, of planning to get through that. In terms of the other question, I think one of the things that, that we’ve learned just from this trip, just from COVID. And, and all of that you have to be able to roll with the punches. I think getting over the fear aspect. We were on a roll like we had some momentum going into this trip. And then I think once we got here, avoiding burnout, and avoiding just getting tired, we have to be a little bit mindful of self-care, you can’t go as hard as you might on a normal 10-day vacation. But I think in general, just becoming okay with uncertainty and learning how to solve problems at the moment has been a pretty big learning. I don’t know if that answers your question very well, Ryan, your second question?

Ryan  

No, it does. I think I think rolling with the punches and just getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. And sometimes it takes their skill sets. And sometimes it takes being thrown into something like this, to learn it, but not like transferred at the fear push into the fear, I think comes down to you mentioned journaling, preparing, you know, the preparation, and then just taking action. I think that you can apply that to a lot of situations. So no, I think your answers were excellent. Awesome. All right, Nick. Well, everyone, I’m sure wants to learn more about your trip around the world. So where can we send people? Is it YouTube?

Nik  

For sure. The best way to keep up with us is through YouTube. Our channel is called away together with Nick and Allie. My name is spelled N-I-K, probably the easiest way is just to search away together Nik, NIK. And then the second way is I actually wrote a short ebook on how to take a sabbatical and navigate all of those crazy details. And I actually have that for free for listeners of this podcast. You can find that at awaytogether.com/morningupgrade.

Ryan  

Perfect. I appreciate you doing that. Well. Thanks for taking my call. We’ll link up your YouTube channel and the ebook on the show notes page. Appreciate your time. Thanks for everything. And thanks to everyone for listening.

Nik 

Thank you Ryan, was a blast.

Ryan  

Thanks for listening to the Morning Upgrade podcast. Please subscribe and review. And don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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