Purpose Without a Plan in Japan

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Happy Wednesday students, educators and parents. This is Charles Winslow. Welcome to a special November edition of the WellTraveled Wednesday blog series. As you know, WellTraveled Wednesday shares practical tips and advice with students, educators and parents on the benefits of travel. Here, you will find insights from seasoned travelers on their experiences abroad. Insights that will challenge you to seek out opportunities to explore your local community and to be creative when travel is not feasible.

This month’s blog is titled “Purpose Without a Plan in Japan”, and discusses an important life lesson that I learned during my time in Japan 7 years ago. For those of you who don’t know, Japan is one of my favorite countries to visit. The culture is rich and the food is amazing! This is probably why we decided to feature Japan in the first book of our children’s book series, The Wonderful Adventures of Wandering Willy & Wendy: Willy Visits Japan. The purpose of the book series is to introduce children (grades K-5) to the values of cross-cultural learning. Join the adventures as Willy and Wendy travel the world, discover new cultures, taste different food, make new friends, and learn how to become better global citizens. The book is now available for preorder until November 26th. Orders will be delivered by December 22 – just-in-time for Christmas! You can preorder the book at

While in Japan, I decided to visit Nara Park because I heard it was home to dozens of deer who love to be fed by visitors. I had to see this for myself. As soon as I entered the park, I noticed deer swarming almost every person who passed by. In most cases, people would give the deer food, but I did notice that some people completely ignored them. This didn’t seem to bother the deer. They would simply go on to the next person. After witnessing this and even feeding the deer myself, I became intrigued by their behavior. From my perspective, the deers’ behavior was somewhat robotic. It seemed as though they were just going through the motions. You see, the deer were conditioned to believe that any and every one who crossed their path had food. Their purpose was to find as many people who would feed them. French fries, candy, chips, it didn’t matter if the food was healthy, just as long as it tasted good. As I reflected later, I realized that at times we appear to be robotic like the deer in Nara Park. Sometimes in life it seems like we follow a certain track because we have been conditioned to.

Let me explain…

I think that we all can agree that sometimes the deer are successful in tracking down a person who has food that isn’t harmful to them. However, it is not guaranteed that they will. In fact, it is not guaranteed that they will actually be given food. It is also not guaranteed that a person will have a successful career or automatically land their dream job just because they go to college and believe that they will. There needs to be a plan. There needs to be more in-depth thinking. Sometimes we may be conditioned to believe that following a certain path will guarantee results. If we just go through the motions, disregarding the need for a plan and action, then we fall into the same cycle as the deer in Nara Park. We hope, wish, act, wait, repeat and become disappointed by the outcomes, moving on to the next thing without thinking that a plan would’ve made all the difference.

Sure, there are people who go to college without a plan, going through the motions and end up successful, but this shouldn’t be process we want to follow.

I am a firm believer that getting a college education is one of the keys to success. That’s the purpose of seeking higher education. There might be purpose in our actions, but without a thoughtful and well-developed plan, we are really just going through the motions. There needs to be a plan for what experiences, skills and knowledge we will need to obtain during our time in college to help us reach our career goals.

You see, we shouldn’t be like the deer in Nara Park. Robotic and conditioned to rely on the idea that something good might happen if we just go through the motions. In the end, we might find ourselves making little progress and relying solely on luck.

Educators and Parents – take the time to reflect with your students and/or children on the importance of having a plan for college, career and life in general. It’s never too early or too late.


Stay Educated. Stay Empowered. Stay WellTraveled.

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