Colin Wright: Leaving Things Behind to Move Forward
by Kelly Lamano
At 24 years old, Colin Wright left his six-figure business to explore the world. He wanted to experience more than working and collecting expensive items, so he said goodbye to the corporate world and hello to traveling the world. “I realized, oh God, I really need to make a change to this. If I don’t do it now, I don’t think I will,” Colin said. Now, at 33 years old, Colin has visited more than 60 countries and all 48 contiguous U.S. states thanks to major lifestyle changes.
Originally from California, Colin moved to Columbia, Mo. with his parents and three siblings when he was nine years old.
He focused on fine art and journalism in high school, later turning these passions into businesses. After graduating from Missouri State University with a dual degree in design and illustration, Colin moved back to California. He later ran his own branding studio in Los Angeles, and while he was making great money, he spent all of his time working…nearly 120 hours a week.
Colin reminded himself he’d been working long hours and earning this money to travel, but he still had a blank passport. “I’d never left the country before I started traveling full time. My priorities were totally out of whack,” Colin said. “LA is a very competitive market for just about everything, so I was kinda stuck in the gravity of that lifestyle, and I didn’t realize it until I had the chance to step outside of it.”
While on his first vacation away from work, Colin realized he wasn’t living the life he wanted. “I had that big picture moment, where I was able to look at what I was doing and how I was living life from the outside for the first time,” Colin said. “Things were going well according to the standards of business. But by every other metric of success, I was utterly failing.”
To turn his travel dream into a reality, Colin either sold or donated everything he didn’t need and kept what he could fit into two carry-on bags. “If I went on and focused on the experiences rather than stuff and just what I could carry with me, I would be able to give this stuff to people who would actually use it and actually benefit from it,” he said. Being present without physical and mental baggage allows Colin to spend time with people he values. He builds meaningful relationships, prioritizing time based upon what he wants to do as opposed to what he has to do. To communicate in different countries, Colin picks up on conversational language using basic vocabulary and body language.
“I find that each visit becomes more valuable every time I visit another country because then I have more contrast, more comparisons to make,” Colin said. “Even when I think I know something, and even when I firmly believe something, someone else can believe other things than me and still be a good person.”
Colin runs the blog Exile Lifestyle, turning to reader votes to determine his next destination every four months. Once the votes are tallied, Colin picks a city in that state or country to move to next. He conducts what he calls superficial research, so he can learn just enough about a city to select it as the next destination. “I like to go in with open eyes and an open mind about it without having too many preconceptions so I can learn as much as possible,” Colin said.
We might think traveling solo gets lonely, but Colin says this gives him more freedom to plan the trips, and it motivates him to meet new people. “Being helpful and kind wherever you can…it forces you to indulge in a really refined type of relationship with other people,” he said.
How does Colin afford his full-time travel lifestyle? He manages a range of businesses that integrate his love for communication. Colin writes and records the podcast Let’s Know Things, runs the blog Exile Lifestyle, co-manages Asymmetry Press, speaks to audiences internationally, and pens books to fund his travels.
“I could yell about young people not reading today, or I could try to figure out a way to make it work. So that’s still using beautiful language and words that I think are important, but also sharing it in such a way that more people get it, and will share it,” Colin said.
What’s next for Colin? The Becoming Tour: a 24-city speaking tour he’ll travel to in a motorhome. “I’ve never driven a motorhome, so I thought that might be interesting. I like to investigate and experiment… that entrepreneur in me,” he said. The speaking engagements will focus on how we perceive the world, and how those perceptions affect our behavior.
Colin will kick off The Becoming Tour in St. Louis on Sept. 7, 2018, and he’ll wrap up the tour in Albuquerque, N.M. in September 2019. “The point is to break through my personal barriers, so that I’m continuously pushing myself past what I’m comfortable with and exposing myself to new frictions.
Just like working out a muscle, you don’t really achieve much if you do what you’re comfortable with. You have to push just up to the line and a little bit past the line of what you’ve done before if you want to strengthen that muscle.
For me, that’s what this lifestyle is all about: continuously exposing myself to things that are just past my comfort zone.”
Would you step outside your comfort zone if it led you to explore the world?