From time to time, the Universe smacks us upside the head and says, “Hey, you! Stop right there! Are you sure you’re living the life you want?”
I felt the sting of that smack earlier this year, upon turning 50. (You can read more about that here.) So I did what I typically do when faced with a tough question: I sought answers through reading. And somewhere in that process, I came across this book:
Written by Betsy and Warren Talbot, the book offers a blueprint for how to establish big life goals — and actually achieve them.
I’ve read more than my share of books and articles on setting goals and leading a meaningful life, and this one resonated with me more than any other. Aside from the lovely writing style, I found the advice to be refreshingly specific and very do-able. Which makes perfect sense, since the book simply outlines the steps the couple took to achieve their own dream of being full-time world travelers.
As the title clearly lays out, step one in reinventing your life is to discover your dream.
For many of us, that is the most intimidating step of all, but the book lays out a series of exercises designed to encourage your dream to reveal itself organically. (One of my favorite exercises is to imagine your perfect day — how you feel when you wake up, what you eat for breakfast, where you are, how you spend your time and who is there with you — as a way of exploring what really matters to you.) By clearly identifying what you want less of and what you want more of in your life, and why, you can more easily hone in on a meaningful vision for your future, and begin to take small but concrete steps toward that vision.
As I read through the exercises, it didn’t take long for my scattered thoughts to crystalize into the dream of shucking my worldly belongings and hitting the road in an RV for an extended period (a dream I had suppressed for decades, as it turns out)… and doing it sooner rather than later.
I knew it was the ‘right’ dream because as the thought formulated in my head, I felt instantly lighter. And happier. And motivated to take some kind of action.
First, though, I brought it up gently to my husband, expecting some resistance. He was two years into launching his own business, not to mention nine years younger than me and not quite as world-weary. I should not have been surprised by his answer: Without reservation, he said, “That sounds great! Let’s do it.” Oh, how I love that man.
And just like that, our dream was born.
That was five months ago and the wheels have been turning ever since. As recommended in the Talbots’ book, we have calculated what our dream will cost, set up a separate savings account (or ‘vault’ as they call it), and are actively working on cutting our expenses to fund it. We even created some ‘dream porn’ to motivate us by keeping our goal visibly front-and-center.
Most recently, we took the bold step of setting a date to begin our trip, because as Betsy and Warren so eloquently point out, “a dream without a deadline is dead.” While we’re not quite ready to announce it to the world (soon, we promise!), working toward a specific date has changed the way we think about our priorities and make day-to-day decisions. It’s not just a dream anymore, it’s a plan, and we’re making it happen!
My mind now swims with ideas on what our ‘perfect days’ will look like once we hit the road: Where we’ll go, how we’ll make a living, the types of people we will meet, the challenges we will face, and most of all, the sense of freedom and anticipation we will feel as we set off on our grand adventure, determined to forge a path toward a more fulfilling life together.
Can you envision your perfect day? What does it include? And what does it say about what’s important to you, and what’s not? Leave a comment — I’d love to hear!