I’m not going to tell you I have some big secret for how to be successful. I’m not going to tell you I am happy all the time. I can tell you I have lived a pretty god damn interesting life and there are a few things that have allowed me to do that.
Last year, I quit my job(s), bought a one way ticket to Asia and traveled around for 7 months.
So many people asked me how I’ve been able to do it. I’ve been told by even more they never could do what I did.
It’s not difficult, but the honest answer is it wasn’t an overnight decision either. There were four projects I commited to that changed how I look at life.
1st Project Was To Build A Mentality
For most, including myself, the ability to wrap your head around living a life where things like travelling for 7 months straight is even possible was … well … impossible. It required a serious shift in perspective.
For me, I found examples of people who were living the way I wanted to live, and I started following them.
After a while the way my mind thought about everything changed. I started to question what was important in my life. Many things in my life that were once exciting, were now dull and even upsetting.
I remember starting to watch where people were spending their money and getting upset at how they were throwing their money away.
I once spent my money the same way, but now my stomach turns when I see people spending their money on stupid things.
Here are some of the realizations that grew in me over time:
#1 I am going to die and I don’t get to choose that
Everyone knows someone who died from a disease, an accident, and old age. The problem is I won’t get to decide which one will happen to me. Nor will I get to choose when and where it happens.
#2 Putting off living the way I want is a gamble
Putting off living the way I want to live in the hopes it will miraculously change for the better is a huge gamble. If I could gamble forever, that might be ok, but since I know I will die (realization number one), I can’t afford the risk.
#3 99.999% of the world doesn’t give a fuck about who I am or what I do
I would get wrapped up in fear of what people would think of me if I did this or that, but the answer is most of the world doesn’t even know I exist.
#4 There are lots of other people living the way I want to out there
There are so many groups of people living in ways that are completely foreign to my own current life. These groups are very open and inviting too. I don’t have to live a certain lifestyle or be a certain person. I could be someone else.
#5 Everyone else has the same inner voice
Those same voices in my head that keep me from doing things exist in everyone’s head. All those voices saying I can’t. Everyone has them. I’m not unique. My problems are not unique.
#6 There are no barriers to generating the life I want
There was only one thing stopping me from living the life I wanted, and that was the voices in my head telling me not to. The truth is I can choose not to listen to them.
These are just some of the realizations I’ve had. There are too many to count, but they all come together to form a general mentality that changed the way I viewed the world.
2nd Project Was To Build Robustness And Sustainability In My Life
I saw the way I was living and I knew the way I wanted to live. I just had to create a safe environment to get there.
After college I had student loans, car loans, rent payments, etc. . Money was flying out the window, and I knew I was exposed.
Any catastophic event could have screwed me up to do try anything risky in my life. I need to setup my environment to minimize the effects any catastrophic event could have in my life.
The biggest risk as I saw it, was if I decided to pursue a different life and it cost me my job. My monthly financial burn rate was about two – four thousand dollars a month.
At most I could go a month or two without an income before my savings would be depleted.
I knew I had to get my monthly burn rate down. Here’s how I did it:
#1 I put every penny I could into paying off my loans.
Like most people, debt was my biggest monthly expense.
#2 I lived as inexpensively as I comfortably could.
I used some financial services like Simple to keep track of every dollar I spent. I forced myself to think twice about every time I went to buy something.
#3 I cut out recurring costs.
I checked my account to see what expenses were showing up repeatedly on my card. If I could live without them, I canceled them. If I could get them reduced, I reduced them.
#4 I sold what I didn’t need.
Some people call this minimalism, I call it intelligence. You can sell the stuff you don’t use for money. By clearing out the stuff I didn’t use anymore, I reduced the space I needed to store my stuff. Smaller places cost less money to live in and are cheaper to maintain.
After all this, I had my monthly burn rate down to a couple hundred dollars. Now if I tried to change the way I lived, there was little risk. I also got to keep a lot more of my income.
A portion of that income I started to invest. I had built stability for both my immediate future and my distant future.
3rd Project Was To Build Capacity
My way of living was durable, but the bigger the change I wanted to make in my life, the more money I would need. I began to hoard my income in a savings account. As my savings account grew, I began to feel this really awesome sensation.
I began to feel like I was in control.
I realized I had a very comfortable safety net. I knew my life was sustainable, and I had the capacity now to explore new directions in life whenever and however I wanted.
At any given second, I could make massive shifts in the way I was living with very little consequence.
By the time I had over ten thousand in my savings account, I felt as if I had completely severed my dependence on my job. I chose to work, I didn’t have to work.
4th Project Was To Live How I Wanted
I chose to continue working for a bit, but when my work stopped working for me, I quit and decided to travel the world.
I am living the life I want because I have built my world to serve me and not the other way around.
I am not dependent on work, and I am well aware life doesn’t have to work in one certain way. I can live how I want and have the capacity to make it happen.