Yes, we are. And you can be too.
Often I’d hear “Living the dream” as a response to my casual inquiry as to how someone’s day is going. Usually stated with pronounced sarcasm as though the person would rather be somewhere else, and moreso doing something different. If you’re one of these people, then I say you should do something to change that attitude.
If you are fortunate to have been born in a free country, where you may choose your daily activities, then that’s really all you need to convert that sarcastic response into serious reality.
How can I say this? Well folks, I was not given anything I have, other than my freedom. For that I’m very fortunate. I didn’t win the lottery, and I’m not a trust fund beneficiary either. But I made it happen because I want to live the dream. Again… so can you!
But you must really want it. My point here is that I’m sitting on a sailboat anchored in a piece of paradise with my best friend because I want to be here, and at one point in the past I consciously stopped making excuses about why I couldn’t be here. I’m not a millionaire, but I’m making the dream happen on a budget, and it wasn’t yesterday that I decided to do it. Yes, I too have had ups and downs in life, but I always (further propped up with essential motivational support of dear friends) have believed in myself to overcome the pitfalls, do better things in this world, and to help others achieve the same.
Here’s my story in a nutshell: I was born to lower-middle income parents, with siblings a half-generation older. I was essentially an only child. My loving parents did their very best for me, and their greatest gift was to encourage me to be independent. Whether intentionally or not, they gave me freedom to do what I wanted, and I took full advantage by doing things to make my life better.
Having achieved terrible grades (but making some good friends) in high school I worked a few years as a laborer at minimum wage, saved money and then put myself through college, and then grad-school. I took my excuse of having bad grades, and overcame it by asking the engineering school how to make myself a viable candidate, and followed their advice. Furthermore I turned my prior work experience into an advantage to be successful in my later career. While my low self esteem was responsible for making poor relationship choices early on, a resulting net benefit are two incredibly brilliant children who further inspire me to always set a better example.
Through it all, I learned that life can be made better – if you really want it to be. I learned to take an assessment of what brought me happiness and satisfaction (H & S), made a plan and took the leap. Accepting some risk took some cajoling, but taking the plunge did eventually occur. Decades of hard work and sacrafice, throughout a slowly rising professional career simultaneously paid back in a very good way.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Eventually, the escape from a debilitating marital relationship snowballed my confidence, allowing me to find my true soulmate. And together we now take on ever-higher levels of H & S. Our family has matured and we enjoy a good family balance. I had become very fond of my job and co-workers at all levels. I really enjoyed my life at this point. What else could make it better?? Could there be more? Time for another H & S assessment!
We took inventory again and worked out how better could be best as our children completed college, and we prepared to enter another stage. We have confidence and control! We put ourselves on a five-year plan to achieve a few more goals:
- Kids/grandkids: what can we do to help our two boys to be happy and successful in their lives? This meant getting them prepared – eg helping with college, giving them, or teaching them where to find essential tools to succeed, as best we could. Listening, encouragement, spending as much time with them as possible (when they’d let us).
- Be financially solvent. Zero debt. No loans, no mortgage, etc. This meant saving and planning to eliminate these items in the next five years. Hard work, dedication. We didn’t buy the expensive cars, even though we could have. We limited expensive activities such as dining out. We don’t need a lot of money to be rich.
- Ample travel and adventure, making it last for several years. Time is what makes us rich.
- Be where it’s warm – at least during winter.
- Remain in touch with loved ones – new and old. Be able to freely communicate and travel “home” if we want or need.
- Do the above while health and age are in our favor (in our fifties).
We boiled our activities down those essential to our H & S. Numbers 3 and 4 were solved by purchasing a modest live-aboard sailboat, but to meet number 2, it had to be budget-priced. (Again, we aren’t millionaires!). We purchased Fayaway for less than the cost of one year of our son’s college. Then we spent three more years making our boat safe and comfortable, doing most of the work ourselves. Number 5 remains challenging, but we’ll keep trying, as we continue to meet many new and wonderful people – both on and off land. Number 6 necessitated we set realistic financial budgets.
So there you have it. We made a plan and executed. If you were born free, can make plans, work hard, save, and stop making excuses, then you can do what we did.
Quit Making Excuses!
Getting to this point wasn’t glamorous, and compared to some of the other boats we come across, we are far from glamorous now. But we’re living the dream. Please don’t use that sarcastic answer when asked, unless you truly are happy the way you are (in that case all is good). Otherwise, assess your priorities, assess your H & S scale, and get started! If that means selling your house, buying a boat and sailing away as we did, or simply taking more time for gardening, or reading or being fit then just do it already! Start small if necessary, but at least start taking baby steps.
You can combine things, too. Start by prioritizing and defining smaller steps necessary to achieve the smallest goals, and start on your way to making the larger ones happen. It may take a while but you’ll get there. If you want that zillion-dollar boat then so be it – it might just take a while longer. Be realistic. (We didn’t want to wait). Most of all, just do what you want – and make it your dream. It’s all up to you!
Our dream is only getting started, and hopefully we planned well-enough to keep it going for a while longer. Time is the most valuable resource, we all have the choice of how to use it. We all get older, have challenges and move through phases of life. We asked ourselves in advance, when is the best time to live this dream, and made that priority number 6. We also know that when we return from seeing this fantastic world we live in, and meeting the many new people we live amongst, we will return to our home and once again pick up where we left off. We sorely miss our family and long-time dearest friends, but we know that they too, may be pursuing their own dreams.
“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” ― Isak Dinesen
“You Can Get It If You Really Want“
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
But you must try, try and try, try and try
You’ll succeed at last