If you love your current job, have too much time to do all the things you enjoy, and have seen all of this world that you want to see, then stop reading. This is not for you. Also, congratulations on your fairy tale life. You’re above the rest. Now go back to doing what you were doing, you human unicorn.
If you’re still reading, I applaud your honesty and I challenge you to pull yourself out of that comfortable reclining chair that has taken the shape of your butt cheeks. Think about what you could do if you didn’t have to spend 40+ hours per week at your job that you don’t totally love. You could write a book, learn an instrument, cure cancer; there is no limit. But maybe before you tackle cancer you want to just unwind for a minute…or a year. Hell, you got out of your chair to defeat averageness. You deserve a vacation!
That’s exactly what my brother and I are doing. In 2013 we began planning a trip of a lifetime, which has now become a full time job (if you can really call it that) for the both of us. We’re exploring all 50 U.S. states by van over the course of 1 year. We developed a “road map” that helped us get to the position we’re in and I’m about to share it with you, so buckle up and keep your eyes on the road.
1. Write It Down
My professor in college always said, “ideas that aren’t written down don’t truly exist.” Make that dream tangible with pen and paper. If you can hold it in your hands, you’ll think twice before you throw it away.
2. Be Specific
If you daydream about quitting your job on a regular basis so you can take your dream trip, you can probably imagine exactly where you’d go, what you’d do, and how it’d feel. Be specific. The more specific you are the more realistic it becomes, and the more realistic it becomes the more invested you become.
3. Don’t Quit Your Job
Wait, I thought the whole point of this was to quit my job? It is. When you’re ready, grasshopper, but not today. There’s a difference between going for broke and just going broke. Dropping all your current responsibilities puts you in the fast lane to going broke. Going for broke means you’re holding your current life together and chasing your dream on the side. If you’re starting to realize that maybe this won’t happen overnight, you’re on the right track. But this is your dream we’re talking about. It’s going to be worth it. So go for broke.
Now you’re wondering, “If not now, then when do I quit?” Good thing you wrote down a specific description of what you want. Now go to Step #4 to start figuring out how soon you can ditch that job!
(For an in-depth look at this topic, read Quitter by Jon Acuff.)
4. Make a Budget
This is where it gets hairy but stick with me. Decide what your priorities are on this trip and plan accordingly. Will you have to fly there? What will gas cost if you’re driving? Do you have all the equipment you’ll need for activities? Do you have the proper clothing? Do you want to eat out or cook? Do you want to set aside an emergency fund for sticky situations? Do you need a nest egg to come home to after your trip? Always be specific. And go ahead and write it all down; math is hard.
5. Stick to Your Budget
It’s hard. Trust me, I know. Nothing beats an “adult beverage” (or 4) after a tough day at work…except not having to work. That’s way better. So save those precious pennies for what you really want.
6. Give Yourself a Deadline
Photo: Drunk Photographer
Nothing lights a fire under your butt like a deadline. Make a promise to yourself that you will quit your job by MM/DD/YYYY and leave for your trip by MM/DD/YYYY. Your budget from Step #4 will help you decide when to quit and when to depart. Remember to be specific. Oh, and write it all down.
7. Don’t Tell Everyone…
Photo: Katie Tegtmeyer
Don’t share your dream trip all over the Internet the moment it pops into your brain. If for some reason you change your mind you could be seen as the boy who cried wolf. There’s no need to brag about your trip now, they’ll see it when it comes to fruition. So prepare for the worst and work for the best. But failure’s not an option for you, right? So skip to Step #8.
8. …But Tell Someone
Don’t tell everyone but you need to tell someone, preferably someone you can trust. Having someone to keep you accountable will make sure you don’t get lazy. After all, your dream doesn’t work unless you do.
9. Start Yesterday
If you’re not ready to start working on your dream today, chances are you won’t be ready tomorrow or the next day or the next day. So if you haven’t finished school, start preparing now so you can leave when you graduate. If you have a family, save enough money to bring them with you. If you don’t speak the native language, start learning. The truth is that we’ll never be totally ready to do anything so we might as well start working at it today.
What are you waiting for? Now that you’ve written down a specific trip plan, made a budget you can stick to, and gotten yourself an accountability partner that will hold you to your deadline, it’s time to get to work leaving your work behind. So sell that comfortable recliner in the next neighborhood yard sale and say, “bon voyage,” to averageness. You’ve got better places to be.