A few days ago, I went on a long trail run through the mountains of Colorado with Jesse Scott. I like the runs with Jesse as they are always thought-provoking. In this particular case, we were lamenting on where we were one year ago. As we marveled at the natural beauty surrounding us, we began discussing how we got to this very moment.
A year ago Jesse was a college student just beginning to make serious in-roads to elite ultrarunning. I was a high school history teacher with a serious case of burn-out. Our path from those beginnings to our current location was… well, pretty simple.
Both of us decided to make a change, then set out to implement those changes.It really was that simple. Jesse spent the summer training in the mountains of Colorado while doing an internship, and Shelly and I quit our jobs to become nomadic running bums.
I can’t speak for Jesse, but this is the process Shelly and I used to get to the point we’re at right now.
1. Decide what you truly value. For us, it was running, travel, helping others, and spending time with our kids. The order of those four change, but all three were important to us. To figure this out, ask yourself what makes you happy. Be honest… society has a tendency to put answers in our mouths.
2. Figure out what is trapping you in your current situation. For us, it was a fear of the unknown and a misguided sense of priorities. We had been following the “work to accumulate material goods while saving for retirement” lifestyle. Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week helped change our perspective and realize we weren’t living a life either of us wanted. For others, that “trap” could be a sense of duty to extended family, loyalty to a job, or a significant other that doesn’t share your outlook on life.
3. Figure out what is required for your “dream” life. With three kids and our niece joining us, we calculated what we would need and how much it would cost. We then spent several months eliminating everything we didn’t need. The funny thing- the more we eliminated, the more we realized we needed even less. Even now after a month on the road, we’ve realized we need even less than we brought. As far as money, we also realized we needed far less than we would have expected. We quit fairly lucrative, secure teaching jobs. That was only possible after we came to the realization that we needed far less material goods than what we originally thought. Many people try to gain financial independence by making more money. That’s a fool’s folly- you’ll always spend more as income increases. The true secret isn’t to make more money; the secret is to make due with less. It’s easy to make enough money to fund our current adventures. Finding the inherent joy in simplified living is powerful. Want freedom? Simplify.
4. Deliver the goods. This is the most difficult part- actually putting the plan in motion. For us, starting the plan was easy. Actually leaving our apartment and hitting the road was difficult. We had set an absolute date several months before we left. We pushed the trip back 18 days so I could make a tip to Germany. In retrospect, I wish we would have kept our original date and worked around the Germany trip. Delaying for whatever reason is very easy to do. The timing never feels right. You can always convince yourself that waiting will be advantageous. My best advice- just do it. Take the plunge. If you’re not ready, you’ll adapt. You may think you’re being prudent. You’re not. You’re just being a pussy.
That’s it. That’s all it takes. It’s far easier than most people imagine.
When I first started writing about my family’s plans, I was worried we’d be labeled as crazy hippies. It wasn’t enough to stop me. After all, I’ve had that label for years from running barefoot.
Much to my surprise, I’m finding A LOT of others that have done something similar. Some may have been inspired by us, but most were probably doing their own thing anyway, then found us via our blogs. Birds of a feather…
What do you think? Do you have elements of your life you’d like to change? What’s keeping you from making those changes?