Monday, June 11, 2018

What Do You Want From Your Life?

Two years ago many people thought my wife and I were crazy when we went to Turkey for our vacation despite the recent bombings in Ankara (the city we went to) and all along the Syrian border. We went anyway and had the best vacation I've ever been on.

Two months after returning from that trip, we sold all our stuff and moved to Beijing, China so I could teach English to primary school children and start using my degree in TESOL. Something I was having great difficulty doing while living in the States.

After 20 months in Beijing, we packed up again and now live in Danang, Vietnam. Despite living in Vietnam, I still work for the Chinese. In China.

The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of new adventures, crazy stories (I'm all about collecting new stories), challenging stereotypes, personal growth, and stretching our perception of people, culture and the world. It has been absolutely amazing. I can honestly say that I love my life. It still has difficultes, but that cannot be escaped anywhere.

At least once a week, I hear from someone saying something to the effect of "I am so jealous." OR "I wish I could travel all the time." And my response is always the same.

"Then do it."

This doesn't just pertain to travel. I heard the same when I went back to college after I had started my family. "I wish I could go back to school."

I would suggest they go back to school. I would then get a long list of reasons why they couldn't do what I did.
  • My kids are still in school
  • My job is pretty demanding
  • I don't have the money
  • I've been out of school too long
  • I don't have the time 
  • My dog's about to have puppies
I completely understand the fear that comes with every one of these excuses (except the puppy one) because I had the same issues in my life. I had kids and barely made enough money to meet my rent. I was working several jobs to get that money. I was pressed for time and hadn't been to a school in years. However, I made a simple choice and it was the same choice that every person makes every day.

What are my priorities?

We ALL have responsibilities that take up our time and our thoughts and our effort, but somehow we manage. Many of us have limited incomes, but we still have to decide where we spend that income. Any time we have that is not dictated to us by our jobs, sleep or responsibilities is decided by us on how we spent it.

If you choose to use your money to buy a $100/month cable package, that is your business. Good for you. However, if you have that cable package and then claim that you can't put back $100 a month to save for a trip or a college class or whatever, it's just not true. You did have the money, but you made a choice about what your priorities were and it was cable TV.

I know a guy who always complained about how broke he was and he didn't appreciate me pointing out that he didn't have to drive a brand-new $800/month car all the time. There are much cheaper cars out there. This same guy took his wife out for VERY VERY nice dinners every Friday night, but then had trouble paying his power bill.

Whether we are talking about money, time, effort, energy, or anything else, we all only have a finite amount and how we choose to spend it is up to us. If you really want to do something, do it. Make it happen. Make your choice.

So many of the people who tell me they would love to travel more use lack of money as their excuse for why they don't. However, I cannot seem to convince them that they often make much more money than I do. And it's true whether they choose to believe it or not.

The main difference is…travel is a priority to me. Because of this, my financial decisions are made with future travel plans in mind. I recently turned down a job offer because the schedule would be too restrictive to allow me to travel freely. Travel is a priority, so I design my life around it. I personally know a girl who prioritizes travel, makes only $1,200 a month and travels all over the world. In the last year, she's been to a dozen U.S. cities and seen China, Bali, Indonesia, Malaysia, Scotland, Germany, Spain, and others. Don't tell me you can't afford to travel.

Whether you realize it or not, you are already doing the same thing. The places you choose to put your money/time/effort/emotions are the priorities you have chosen. You might not have put that much thought into it, but you have done it. The thing you need to consider is: are you being intentional about your priorities or are you just floating along letting life take you where it wants to.

If you have something you really want to do, then make it happen. Believe it or not, you probably do have the means to do so. Sit down. Make a plan and figure out you how may need to restructure your life to acheive your goal. Whatever that goal may be, it is probably not just going to fall into your lap. Go get it.

 Whatever it is

Go back to school ✯ Take your dream vacation ✯ Build that house you always wanted ✯ Write your book ✯ Get in shape ✯ Learn woodworking ✯ Volunteer at that animal shelter ✯ Take that cooking class ✯ Move to the seaside ✯ Go live your life

You have more control than you have given yourself credit for.

If you have something you want to do and you choose not to, that is fine. It is your life and I believe you should be able to live it however you choose. However, don't complain to me about the reasons you can't because I will challenge you to change your thinking.


  1. I agree. I totally back people who don't want to travel. The logistics can be a pain in the neck. Traveling overseas for the first time might require a lot of incentive to break out of your comfort zone. Even traveling within your region might be laden with trouble like kids, pets, delays, construction. So many unknowns. It's not for everyone.

    However, if someone thinks they can't just because of circumstances, they need to do some soul-searching. I would guess the the honest answer to why they don't travel is either "I don't want to - I'm comfortable here." or "I'm afraid to."

    1. Exactly, that's what I'm trying to say. Anyone who doesn't do it (or anything else) is fine with me. I just don't buy the excuses.

  2. Agree but would like to add how important it is that you and your partner are on the same page. You don't have to agree on the details but the general priorities need to sync.
    I am loving the ability to adjust on the fly while deciding this is the year to go back to school AND visit my sister half way around the world.

    1. Absolutely. I cannot argue with that. Being married to a person who is not supportive of your hopes and dreams would make things difficult.

      Although, I guess an argument could be made that this would be an example of choosing priorities also: spouse versus travel.

  3. Yes, it's all about priorities. I once read that people live in the prisons of their own making, their own minds telling them what they can and cannot do, their own minds holding the key to get out. I like that image. Often it's fear of the unknown. It's safe in the cage ;)

    1. I think that nails it. That's exactly what I was trying to say.

  4. Sometimes I think I make other excuses to try to cover for the fact that there are just a lot of things I am simply afraid of. I so enjoy reading about your adventures though

    1. And self-reflection is always a good thing. Being honest with yourself helps in all arenas of life.


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