Daring Spirit: Becky Pokora
Becky Pokora is a Richmond, Virginia resident, frequent globetrotter, and outdoor enthusiast. Although travel started out as her hobby, Becky harnessed that passion into creating a career as a travel expert, consulting on tourism marketing opportunities and using frequent flyer miles and other loyalty rewards programs. When she's not traveling, she loves yoga, cooking, and hiking in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband.
We caught Becky between trips and asked her to share her insights with us. No doubt you'll be as charmed as we are.
Daring Spirits: Tell us about a decision that felt really bold.
Becky: Probably the boldest — or stupidest — thing I've ever done was deciding not to apply for a traditional job after returning from a sabbatical. I had spent two months studying in Guatemala (something that everyone else told me was bold, but felt entirely natural to me). My intention was always to come home and go back into the swing of things, but somewhere along the way, I decided to ditch the high-power, high-money job and pursue work that kept me mentally engaged instead.
I had no idea how I'd make money without heading into an office from 9-5 and certainly hadn't prepared for the major lifestyle change (both professionally and financially). It was a rough transition, but I was tough enough to power through the hard stuff and keep pushing until I started bringing in regular clients and enough work to sustain my life.
Daring Spirits: Describe a time when things went "wrong" and then the Universe delivered.
Becky: The first small business I started failed in every way possible. I knew I wanted to work in the travel industry and so I offered trip planning and long-term planning consultations. First I didn't have any clients and I spent all day twiddling my thumbs and hoping that eventually someone would want to buy my services instead of going to an established travel agency.
Eventually, I did get a few clients. They ran me ragged, requiring about quadruple the effort that I had anticipated and making it impossible to continue offering my services at the price point I advertised. It took me a long time to give up those plans and admit I couldn't compete in that field.
But failure was a great thing! It forced me to innovate and look at other things I could offer. Now I work in three different fields, all related to travel: consulting on frequent flyer miles and rewards programs, providing marketing and advertising insight to tourism businesses, and writing about travel.
If I hadn't been forced to try new things and branch out in multiple directions, I never would have guessed that I love the variety. It keeps me fresh and on my toes every day since no project is the same as the last.
Daring Spirits: What's one thing you really want people to know?
Becky: Finding happiness isn't always easy, but it's so worth it in the end! Don't feel like you have to buy into the world's definition of happiness: career success, families, houses, and material items may or may not be things that bring joy to your life. Even as someone who LOVES to travel, I found that I still like it best when it's combined with home base, friends, and routine.
Experiment a little, open yourself up to new passions and lifestyles, and eventually you'll find the right combination of people, interests, and projects that bring you spark to your life.
Daring Spirits: Beach or Mountains? Sweet or spicy? Window or aisle?
Becky: Mountains, especially if they're snow-capped. I recently learned about the Japanese healing of "Shinrin-yoku" (forest bathing), which basically means spending time in the forest to calm your thoughts and restore and rejuvenate your health. I've felt the healing powers of nature for a long time but never realized there were legitimate health benefits to it. For me, it doesn't get better than granite peaks with a hint of snow, pine trees, and alpine lakes.
Spicy! Who doesn't like to be thrown off their game every once in awhile?
Window, so I can watch the world. I'm definitely an introvert, but I think sitting back and observing is something that can make everyone a little smarter and more effective in life.
Daring Spirits: I love what you said about studying in Guatemala, that it was something that everyone else told you was bold, but felt entirely natural to you. That's inspiration to someone reading this right now, I'm sure of it. Thank you, Becky!
If you have even the tiniest bit of wanderlust, you can follow Becky's travels here: