Big decisions.

6 comments
Finances, How to, Travel

Warning: this post requires you to do some work.  The upside: you could change your life if you go through with it.  Plan your reading accordingly.

I’ve had several people express that they have dreamed of doing the kind of thing I’m doing.  Since I held this dream for a couple of decades, I know how that feels.  Looking back on how I got to this point makes me realize that there’s really only one thing you need to do, everything else is just mechanics and details.

The one thing you must do, and as cliché as this sounds, is the hardest to do:

decide to do it.

That’s all.

Once you make this decision, you are down to mechanics.  I will cover all the mechanics I went through in case it is helpful in a later post, but the only thing keeping you from doing what you want is making the decision to do it.  For me, there were many things I could list that were holding me back:

  • I have a great job, one other people would kill for, why throw this away?  I’ll never have a job like this again!  I’ll regret this!
  • Will I be throwing away my chance at a good and lasting relationship?
  • What if I’m not here for my friends or son when they need me?
  • Isn’t this just a horribly selfish thing?  This self-indulgence can’t lead to any lasting good.
  • I’m spending all the money I have saved, what if I don’t have enough to retire properly later?
  • What if something happens to me in some remote country?  Something disastrous?  How will I cope?
  • I have no idea what I’m doing or how to get along in foreign countries!  Better to just stay safe with what I have now.

If you dissect all the above statements and worries, they all come down to one core thing.

Fear.

At the core of all these is fear of worst case scenarios, or fear of potential future consequences.  If you have a dream you aren’t acting on, make a list of the reasons you have to not go after it.

No, really.  Make a list.  I can wait.  After all, I’m just a web page, I’ll be here when you come back.  GO!  Write that list!

Don’t worry, I’ll enjoy a little libation while you work.

Image

Seriously.  Spend some time getting it all out.  What is every reason you can dredge up from the bottom of your brain, heart and soul why you aren’t doing this?  Your list should be long.  It should have some crazy things (like: I don’t want people to think I’m a flake!  I’ll miss McDonalds cheeseburgers!  What if my trick leg acts up?  What if aliens invade and I’m not home to man the howitzer?).  Make sure you get it all out.

Got it?  Really?  No cheating.  Use pen and paper.  Use an audio recorder and dictate to it.  Or use my favorite tool: Excel.  If it can’t be done in Excel, it probably doesn’t need to be done.

Okay, I’m going to move on, but I’m trusting that you’ve made this list.  Don’t let me down here.

Once you’ve spewed all that out, you’ve got your concerns codified.  Excellent.  Now, consider each separately and ask yourself if the core of this concern is really just fear, or do you have a legitimate concern?  I’ll wager most of issues are fear-based.  Cross those off.  Don’t feed fear.  A life lived by the dictates of fear is less than half a life.  Also, you’ll find when you move towards fear there’s something awesome in it for you.  Embrace fear.

For the ones that are real concerns, you’ve got a couple questions:

  • Is this concern a time-based thing?  If so, there is a date at which this concern is not valid, and you can start planning towards that date.  Example: I wanted to ensure I had raised my son to be an independent person before I did this.  He graduated, decided college was not for him and went right to the work force.  I gave him notice that in 1 year the apartment he and I were living in would no longer be an option.  He took this to heart and moved out in 9 months.  I’m proud of him.
  • What would it take before this is not a blocking concern anymore?  Don’t imagine the ultimate solution, imagine what it would take to make this concern lessened to the point that it doesn’t actually block you anymore.  For example: health coverage was a concern for me.  Thinking about what I really needed here was to keep myself healthy (diet and exercise), and have catastrophic coverage in case my leg fell off or my kidney revolted against me.  Researching that, I found I could get catastrophic coverage for myself and my son under $200 per month.  I worked that into a theoretical budget and this no longer blocked me.
  • Is this concern something people in your life can help you with?  I’ve been extremely lucky with the mechanics of this adventure, and the more people I talked to about doing this, the more people offered assistance to resolve many of my major or minor issues.

If you’ve played along, you’ve got one of these outcomes:

  1. Nice post, suckah, I’ve read similar things before.  Get a job, hippy.
  2. I now have a specific list of things keeping me from living my dream.  I can use this as a task list to work towards accomplishing my dream.  If this is you: congratulations, you are VERY close to tipping over and making the decision that will change your life.
  3. Man, I want a cheeseburger now.  Thanks a lot for ruining my diet.  You’ll be hearing from my lawyers.

This puts it all in rather simplified terms and I realize that your reality won’t feel this simple.  It took me years to finally make my dream real, and this decision was one of my most gut-wrenching ever.  In addition, I have a lot of advantages (financially stable, healthy, etc).  However, I also constantly sabotaged my dream by listing reasons why it was okay for someone else to do this, just not me.  Don’t compare your situation to anyone else, just note what is keeping you from your dream.  If you want to talk through your thoughts in more depth, leave a note here, or send me mail at koreyk-at-outlook-dot-com.

Good luck, move towards your fears, embrace your dreams.

6 thoughts on “Big decisions.”

  1. Aurora says:

    Thanks for the words on embracing fear & living your dreams- good to have a reminder.

    It took me a bit to figure out what was in your drink, though. Is that a… malformed candle? A weird, blobby straw? Ah- must be pickled white asparagus. All is good again.

    • Due to the magic of flash technology, it’s neither malformed candle (good guess), blobby straw (nobody would want to suck up drinks through that), nor white asparagus but common GREEN asparagus! Hah, fooled you. And you, the farmer, thought you knew so much…

  2. I remember comments from you when we lived in Japan about how you were living vicariously through our travels and life abroad. At the time (and for years) I secretly wondered why you didn’t just set off on your own journey of discovery. After all, you had to have the money to do so, so what was holding you back? Glad you finally came to your senses, set your goals, and are embracing your fears and dreams.

    Now, I can join you on much of your journey if:
    A. someone will kindly buy the twins from me and
    B. due to the fulfillment of A., I finally catch up on my sleep.

    Anyone?

  3. ” If it can’t be done in Excel, it probably doesn’t need to be done.”

    Spoken like a true ex-softie!

    In all seriousness, great post. I fully agree that the act of deciding to do something is often the hardest part of the entire process. Once you get past the dastardly mental gremlins of self-doubt and worry, and are finally able to decide ‘I WILL do this’, it’s so much easier to move forward.

    Congrats on taking the leap!

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