Transitioning dreams into reality is a complex, and often overwhelming task. Often people get lost in the ‘how’ of it all, and forgo trying altogether. Why go through the trouble of creating your own path, knowing that there is a chance it will not lead anywhere, especially when there are so many other established paths for you to follow?
I’m a linear thinker, so I need to understand the plan before I begin packing my bags. I’m not a ‘ride or die’ chick. I need to know where we’re going and how much its gonna cost. But that’s not always possible when traveling into the unknown.
I’m often asked how much money you need to quit your job, or embark on a long-term travel adventure. There is no set amount. And there is no safety net you can build for yourself that will ease your anxiety. It’s scary. There’s so much that could go wrong that we often forget how much can go right.
We’re romantics. I blame Disney. We can fantasize about all of the luxuries a corporate career will afford us without ever imagining the exhaustion that will accompany that exchange. We don’t daydream about missing birthdays and holidays, or being late to school recitals. No one dreams of dropping their child off at daycare after maternity leave ends, yet we accept that as a part of the corporate structure we want so badly to join.
As children we start claiming a future as a doctor or lawyer, because of the successful life we agree it will afford us. I was baffled when I learned that those professions earned their salaries. So you mean I have to work 100-hours per week as an attorney? I need 3 more years of college, plus a residency, to become a doctor? No one ever told me about that part.
There are no sweet deals.
But it’s better to bite into a lemon than a sour grape, because at least you were expecting it.
That expectation, or lack thereof, is what makes following your dream so difficult. You don’t know what you’re getting into, so every curve seems to be a sign to quit. Add in your self-doubt, along with the doubt of those around you, and you have all the necessary ingredients to delay your dream, again.
But in the large scheme, the ‘how’ is less important than you may think. You do not have to master something new in order to quit something old. Instead, you can learn along the way and adjust your plan and expectations accordingly.
Honestly, I thought I would have it all ‘figured out’ by now. I thought that I’d be financially stable, my book would be ready for release, I’d be preparing to have children, and settling in to my ‘happily ever after’.
But why was I rushing it?
I didn’t expect to be a master three years into my career, and as I was still learning and growing I never felt disappointed. No one expects me to have marriage mastered in my fourth year, instead they simply celebrate our continued love. No one asks why we’ve only been to 27-countries, when there is so much more we could have seen in our time. So why focus on where I’m not with my entrepreneurship? Why expect to have it all figured out so quickly?
If you think about the main decisions in your life – career, education, love, location, and so on, you never know how they’ll turn out. You could hate your career. People switch industries everyday. You could very well graduate from college with no job waiting for you, but that doesn’t make your education fruitless. A marriage has a 50% chance of ending in divorce, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow your heart. Moving to a new city could end up being the best or worst decision for you, but you still take the chance.
Why do we require so much more for our dreams than we do our tasks? I always say that if I were required by my job, or the military, to move abroad, my family and friends would have accepted it much better. Requirement is widely understood and respected, but desire is often questioned and discouraged.
So I took my leap without knowing ‘how’ it would succeed. I had no plan, but have since found a way to maneuver obstacles on my road to independence, using the same resilience and ambition once used to overcome graduating college without a plan, quitting a career I hated, and finding myself homeless after moving to Los Angeles.
Three years in, my ‘how’ has taken on many forms, and I still don’t have it all figured out. But I’m fine with that. I will continue to create ways for myself and push through self-doubt and disappointments. I’m happy I started and grateful that I am no longer wondering what would’ve happened if I at least tried to turn my dream into my reality.
I am living my dream. Without ever knowing how I was going to achieve it.