Looking down

Just a little longer

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I want to travel, but…

   …my girlfriend doesn’t want to come with me…

   …my family don’t understand…

   …it’s a terrible economy…

   …my boss promised me a raise…

   …I want to go to grad school…

   …I don’t have enough money…

…so I’m not going to leave quite yet.

But I’ll do it soon.  I will.

I just need a little longer.

Those are all good reasons not to travel right now.

There is always a good reason to put it off, and there will always be a good reason.

And that’s the problem.

Given the opportunity, our brains can find all manner of justification for not doing something.  Wrapped in a cocoon of rationality we quietly let our fears and uncertainties determine our lives.

That’s why we come up with these reasons not to travel right now.

Because we’re afraid.

The thrill of striking out into the world is replaced by a series of fears.  Terrified of an unknown future, we grasp onto anything that gives us a little comfort.  We slowly step back from the abyss.

The abyss

Of course we don’t want to admit that we’re scared.  Not to our friends, not to our family and especially not to ourselves, so we call it something else.

We say we’re being smart.  Logical.  Sensible.

And while we’re busy being so damn clever, our dreams quietly wither and die.

One reason gets replaced by another.

I broke up with the girlfriend that doesn’t want to travel … but now I don’t want to travel alone.

I got that raise at work … but now the job is too good to leave.

I finally saved an amount I’m happy with … but wouldn’t it be smarter to buy a house instead?

Sometimes we just need to stop listening to our brain.  Sometimes we need to start listening to our heart instead.

The sensible choice is not always the right one.  Not when the stakes are this high.

We don’t get a second chance.  All of the choices we make help to fill in the blank canvas of our lives, until we’re left at the end with a finished picture.  What happens if we’re not happy with the way it looks?  If there’s too much grey and not enough colour?

Bad luck.  We’re stuck with it by then, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do.

So we need to think about what that picture should look like while we’re still painting it.  We need to do it when we’re young, and we need to do it even more as we get older and life starts trying to drag us somewhere else entirely.  We need to push through the darkness of our short term fears and emerge into the bright sunlight on the other side.

Opinions are like bellybuttons – everybody has one – and there’s no shortage of dissent if we dare suggest doing something different.  We might have to listen to those opinions, but we sure as hell don’t have to act on them.

Because in the final reckoning it’s not our friends that have to be happy with our choices.  It’s not our boss, our career advisor, our parents, kids or spouse.

It’s us.

So it’s time to stop worrying about what other people think.  We need to stop finding reasons not to do the things that matter most to us.  Not tomorrow, next month or next year, but right now.

Because when the rest of your life is at stake, even the best reasons you can find not to follow your dreams really aren’t good reasons at all.

[Images via Richo.Fan, CarbonNYC]

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  1. Nice post, Dave! Being worried is normal, but worrying too much won’t bring us nowhere. We all need to take risk and step out of our comfort zones to make our real dreams come true. Cheers for living the dream! 😀

  2. Thanks Dave! I needed to read this. My co-workers just found out I am moving across the world and they keet asking “why?” “Do you even have a job”? “What are you even going to do there?” I have been getting a bit more nervous and scared that it may not be all it’s cracked up to be. What if I can’t find work? What if I have to come home early? What if my co-workers are right and it’s a stupid move?

    But hey that’s all part of the experience, trying new things! Thanks again for the great post!

    1. I find that sitting down and asking myself seriously what the worst is that could happen, works well in these sort of situations. The answer is usually something embarrassing rather than something truly terrible … coming home early, having to ask someone for a loan, sleeping on a sofa for a month or two, whatever … and embarrassing I know I can deal with! 🙂

  3. I’m totally with you on this post! It is always easier to settle for something less risky, and stay in something predictable, but if one wants to live life to the fullest, and find happiness, follow the dreams. Reach for the stars.

    As E. James Rohn said it, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

  4. I really hear this! The carved societal path can have a pretty strong pull, but really, what’s holding us back is us! There’s no rule that says we have to follow any particular life path, and that’s the beauty of life. Great post.

    1. Different doesn’t equal bad … I suspect that if people remembered that little fact, we’d all be a lot better off!

  5. a master piece, its time to step out of our comfortable zone and presue our travel dreams.. Thanx Dave

  6. Great post. I’m guilty of making a lot of excuses myself, and always finding a reason not to go. But I’ve set a date now, and I’m determined to not let anything stop me!

    1. Setting a date is far and away the most important thing when it comes to actually doing it. Set the date, book a ticket and everything else just falls into place because it has to…

  7. so true, fear is a big part of the picture… people don’t want to jump outside their comfort ball… but what about laziness?

    Inmy opinion many people procrastinate because traveling – especially long term traveling – requires a lot of work…

  8. You make excellent points. In 2007, I told family and friends that I was traveling solo to the UK and staying in a hostel. They about near died. I kept hearing about the movie “Hostel.” I was asked, “Aren’t you scared to travel on your own?” Um, no I’m not. Hell, I moved across the U.S. by myself and solo traveled to California. For some reason, people think their family and friends are going to be around forever. Nothing and no one lasts forever. If you don’t experience life on your own here and there, how will your grow as a person? You can’t keep depending on others for the rest of your life, can you?

    1. You absolutely can’t – and yet some people seem to want to do just that. Until the day they no longer can, of course…..

  9. This is an inspiring message – it’s one I tell myself regularly, but it helps to know that there are other people who have taken the leap and made the travelling lifestyle work. I have a job contract that expires at the end of 2012, and I hereby swear on this most holy of digital parchments that I WILL ditch office life for the open road once it’s over.

    Dave, my friend met you in Melbourne a few weeks ago and linked me to your blog, so I’ll be following your stories with interest and hoping to pick up some ideas for the future!

    1. Fantastic! Buy a ticket for Jan or Feb now, to make sure you do it. 😀

      Oh, and thank your friend from me – whoever they are!

  10. Dave, this is a perfect post. I just recently came back from a 3 week trip through Europe with my boyfriend and it was the most spontaneous, most wonderful thing I remember doing in a long time. And now that I’m back, all I want to do is save up some more money and do it all over again.

    I’m working in this incredible job for the summer (doesn’t pay well, but in a really corporate place with huge promise), but I can’t wait till it’s done and I have a week or two before school starts again to go away (maybe not so far… San Francisco? Boston?).

    I think after this job of mine, I’m going to actively try to build a way for me to live a location-independent lifestyle. It’s going to be hard, and maybe it’ll take a year or two or extra schooling, but I’m going to do it. Because it’s going to make me fucking happy.

    🙂 It’s always a pleasure to read.

    1. And honestly? Finding a way to make yourself fucking happy is what everyone should be trying to do … and so few people genuinely are. There’s always something more important than happiness, apparently. Money, or career, or other people’s expectations.

      Be awesome. 🙂

  11. Brilliant and spot-on. The travel bug bit me a long time ago, but it’s really gnawing now. I’m at a fork in the road now and I’m pretty sure which one I’ll end up on. Thanks for this.