Ever since I made the decision to go on an extended trip (EDIT 2 years later: this has now turned into a non-stop travel lifestyle) I’ve been getting lots of feedback. Much of that feedback has been in the form of …
- while you’re young.
- while you still can.
- while you don’t have kids.
- while you’re not married.
“You can hold your breath until you turn blue, but they’ll still go on doing it.” – Marcus Aurelius Meditations 8.4
It got to the point where I started believing it and I’d say it myself.
“Yeah, you know, I gotta do it while I can.”
It pissed me off that I let that non-sense poison me.
I say non-sense, because when somebody says “do it while you can” it’s their cop-out. Their excuse for not doing “it.”
If you want to do something, you make it happen. Somehow. Some way. Make. It. Happen.
It probably won’t be easy at first and you may have some setbacks (i.e. learning experiences). But you never know, maybe it’ll be easier than you can imagine. After all, humans are an incredibly resourceful bunch.
“Do it while you can” only exists in the hearts and minds of those who have never accomplished anything they’re proud of.
What’s the perfect time to travel?
What’s the perfect time to get married?
What’s the perfect time to have a kid?
What’s the perfect time to quit your job and start anew?
What’s the perfect time to exercise?
What’s the perfect time to quit smoking?
The only “perfect time” many people have figured out to do anything is when to watch their favorite TV shows and when to go to work.
And that’s only because somebody else makes those decisions.
What’s the perfect time to make thing happen?
“Keep in mind how fast things pass by and are gone — those that are now, and those to come. Existence flows past us like a river: the “what” is in constant flux, the “why” has a thousand variations. Nothing is stable, not even what’s right here. The infinity of past and future gapes before us — a chasm whose depths we cannot see. ” – Marcus Aurelius Meditations 5.23
Let’s use exercise as an example.
I know, based on my old ways, that an easy way to get out of working out was telling myself “now is not a good time.”
It’s too late. I’m hungry. It’s too early. I’m tired. I just want to relax. I didn’t get enough sleep. My favorite TV show starts in 10 minutes. I ate too much.
Let’s say you had a really busy day with work and errands and you didn’t get home until 10pm. Since you usually go to bed at 11:30pm you decide it’s too late to work out. You have no valid reason, of course. It’s just “too late” to work out.
How badly do you want it?
If you want to lose weight, get 6-pack abs, run a marathon, whatever it is, you have to make sacrifices. If that means working out at night when you least feel like working out then so be it. Make. It. Happen.
Nobody will do it for you.
You don’t burn calories and lose weight by thinking about burning calories and losing weight. (Let’s not get technical, I know we burn calories by simply living.)
You burn calories by physically stressing your body through exercise.
You don’t quit smoking by thinking about quitting smoking.
You quit by making the decision that the benefits of quitting far outweigh not quitting.
And you make it happen.
If you’re having trouble making something happen a great way to figure it out is to model someone else who has already done what you want to do.
It’s OK to be a follower (sometimes).
Fortunately, we live in a time when people freely share information online about life changes they’ve made. Anything you want to do has been done before in some way, by people no more intelligent or gifted than you.
And they’ve documented how they did it on blogs and Web sites.
Your next step is to follow what they’ve done.
You’ll find the sole difference between somebody who accomplishes a goal and someone who doesn’t is focus. If you’ve got laser targeted focus you will accomplish anything.
I would not have set off on a journey like I have if it wasn’t for all the travel blogs I’ve been reading and people I’ve met through CouchSurfing over the past 2 years. They provided me with not only inspiration, but practical advice for doing what they did.
How can you not get inspired by people like Gary Arndt, who spent more than 2 years traveling the world solo? (If you want to use being married and having a young child as an excuse, check out http://soultravelers3.com.)
Don’t believe anybody who says “you gotta do it while you can.”
You’ve got to do it because you want to, need to, do it. And nothing else matters.