March 26, 2020

Going All In

As one of the leading content creators in Japan, I have a responsibility to the country and my audience to do all I can to promote Japan.

A tourist walks through Fushimi Inari Taisha's endless torii gates in Kyoto

I have a bit of a confession to make. For a little over a year now, I haven’t really been what one would call thriving. Though my life of traversing Japan’s many prefectures may look amazing from a third person perspective, I’ve actually been mired in meh on the inside. This creeping sense of gloom has led to an ever-increasing reliance on alcohol to stave off the omnipresent anomie. Of course, as anyone with a bad drinking habit can attest, knocking a few back nightly is not a bandaid fix. In fact, this type of balm only serves to further exacerbate the situation by worsening the problem.

How I ended up in this mental hell hole is a bit of a mystery. In many senses, my life is actually proceeding quite well. Not to brag or anything but I’m a well-respected director of digital strategy at a listed Japanese company who earns sufficient funds every month to feed my wanderlust. Moreover, I’ve been able to leverage my marketing prowess to amass a sizable following for myself online. From the perspective of someone in a less fortunate situation, it should seem I have no right to complain. Despite my auspicious circumstances though, I’ve been unable to shake this constant sensation of morose melancholy.

Prompted by a perpetual lethargy and gradually declining health, I’ve been deeply brooding on the root cause of my mental anguish. After much recent meditation on the matter, I’ve come to the conclusion that my constant malaise is actually the product of sheer boredom. You see, unlike in the early stages of my marketing career, new learnings (and by proxy, novel challenges) are few and far between these days. Furthermore, while my audience has continued to balloon in its size, the absolute distance to the next numerical milestone has quite literally gone exponential.

With the initial early wins well behind me, I’m now unequivocally in the realm of incremental gains. Likely, this state of incessant grinding is the source of my present-day ennui. Without the immediate validation gained from easy victories, it becomes harder and harder to stave off the apathy. While I most definitely have enjoyed my numerous adventures over the past year, I’ve essentially just been going through the motions with everything else. Both in regards to my own marketing and my work at the agency, I haven’t really been pushing myself to my limits.

When I started producing travel content several years ago, I originally did so on a whim. Honestly, I had no idea that my personal brand would take off to the degree that it did. Along the way though, I’ve noticed myself getting more and more caught up in an obsession with vanity metrics that don’t actually serve my following. While it’s been advantageous to quote extremely high engagement rates when pitching prospective clients, solely pursuing these meaningless statistics has consequently come at a cost. Rather than invest more in helping readers get off the beaten path, I’ve instead been chasing the mere trappings of actual influence.

From here on out, I am going to focus my core mission in life to getting more overseas visitors to Japan off of the beaten path. Though I’ve indeed paid this calling some lip service in the past, I haven’t made it the pillar of my very existence. That all changes now. From here on out, I’m making this quest the ordinal principle around which everything else revolves. By infusing every aspect of my life with this mission, it will be easier to know exactly what I need to do on a daily basis to further my crusade. What follows are just a few of the changes that I’ll be making for the cause…

Tourists at Kawaguchiko’s Chureito Pagoda look out at a snow capped Mt. Fuji
  • Devote more of my income to Facebook advertising to ensure that my content is reaching even more people on a daily basis.
  • Stop focusing on vanity metrics (eg. number of Instagram followers) and instead zero in on actually getting more people to experience Japan’s hidden gems.
  • Commit to regularly improving my marketing prowess and never being satisfied with my current level of knowledge.
  • Better leverage my knowledge of both sides of the agency-influencer equation to get more visitors to Japan.
  • Revive my weekly newsletter to which many of my faithful readers have willingly subscribed to over the years.
  • Totally abstain from the consumption of alcohol as well as any other potential vices that dull my wits.
  • Eat a species appropriate diet, workout regularly, and get a proper night’s rest to ensure optimal mental performance.
  • Avoid getting mired in both personal and work problems that are not directly in service of the primary objective.
  • Be adamant about taking leisure time to simply breathe so that I can perform at my best when writing and producing content.

Now, some of you may be wondering why I don’t just launch my own company. Here, you need to understand that I still uphold the personal decision I detailed in my Rejecting my Ikigai article. To be frank, I’ve given the notion of becoming a solopreneur endless hours of thought. However, at the close of the day, I prefer to have a stable income that allows me to throw ample funds at achieving my noted ordinal principle. Were I to go it on my own, I’d need to be more stringent about allocating my capital given the need to garner some form of return on investment.

In closing, I really don’t know why the duty call of getting more travelers to discover Japan’s beaten path has fallen to me. What I can say for sure is that the universe has drafted me as the standard bearer of all things off-the-beaten path. Perhaps it’s as the thinker Jordan Peterson claims after all; Unique problems manifest themselves to each and every one of us in a way that they don’t to others. What’s more, failing to heed this call from above will only lead to the proverbial belly of the whale. At the very least, that’s what my experience has been up until now. From here on out, I am commiting all I have to putting more of Japan’s hidden gems on the digital map. The only other alternative is an inevitable decline into oblivion.

Until next time travelers…