I wrote this original post almost two years ago and it’s still 100% true. I recently recorded a podcast about why you shouldn’t wait to start a business, travel, or live your life. Listen to the full podcast below.
A little over 18 months ago I had a choice to make. It would be something that would change the course of my life and my wife’s life forever.
Should I stay in a well-paying job to save up money and pay off debt?
Or should we sell the few things we have, buy an RV, and hit the road after our wedding?
Obviously you know what we did. But I don’t think you know all the turmoil I went through before making that decision (unless you’ve been there yourself). Sitting in an office where you find yourself constantly day-dreaming about what else is going on out there in the world… is a miserable thing to do. I remember being scared about what my parents, friends, and co-workers would think when I told them I was going to quit and travel the country in an RV.
I would look like an idiot.
The voices in my head were loud as ever.
“Play it safe, everyone has to work a few years doing something they don’t like. What makes you special?”
“Who are you to quit your job and travel the country?”
“Are you sure you have enough savings?”
“What about student debt?”
These doubts were loud– but not loud enough to stop Alyssa and I from buying an RV. But if we’re being honest here, I could have easily made the choice to stay put. I might have been miserable, but I’m the kind of person who can be happy doing just about any kind of work (literally, check my resume). There is such a fine, tiny line between the choices we make in life. One decision can ultimately change the entire direction of your life.
For me, a choice to walk away from a job last year turned into the second best decision of my life (first one was the girl I married #priorities). Since walking away from that job I’ve worked a job in every state in America. I’ve gotten more life experiences than many people twice my age. I’ve been able to supplement an income for both my wife and I to continue traveling. I’ve went on a 25 city book tour that I co-ordinated earlier this year and I’m now getting paid to share our story.
But all of those things almost didn’t happen. I almost stayed put. I almost waited until “the right time to travel“. I almost waited until we were more settled in our lives. Nobody would have given me a hard time if we had decided not to buy an RV and travel the country. Life is funny like that, we accept mediocrity but face so much damn resistance when we try to step out of line. I felt that resistance too, from a lot of people.
When I was working my job in Chicago at a local pizza shop, I met an Italian guy around my age named Ludvig. He was telling me all the places he has traveled to, jobs he’s worked, and how his parents had actually encouraged him to travel. The last part blew me away. I had never heard of parents telling their kids they needed to go and see the world. I had heard parents telling their kids they needed to get a steady job, but not go see the world.
He said his mom said this, “You need to go and experience as much as you can around the world, so you can know what you want to do and be in life.”
His mom carried a philosophy that to find work we love and live a meaningful life, we have to be willing to travel and experience people who are different than ourselves.
I’m on Ludvig’s mom’s’ team.
I share this story (and mine) to
try to convince– try to persuade you not to wait. Don’t be one of the countless people who have emailed me in the past year, who told me they wish they’d had “went for it when they were my age”. Getting old is a real thing and this life happens faster than we all think.
This applies to so much more than travel. If you want to start a business, non-profit, food truck, write a book, or film a documentary– don’t wait. Seriously, the only thing that’s stopping you is your own insecurity and fear of the unknown.
Last year when we hit the road I had never been paid to write. I had no film experience. I had $27k of student debt. I had more excuses than most to “wait it out”. The excuses we tell ourselves are really just fear in disguise. Fear of failing or looking dumb. Fear of having a big gap on our resume’ if we decide to go and travel for a year.
All of these fears are irrational. The media makes us afraid of what’s out there in the world, but I can tell you from experience that it’s not all bad. I’ve worked in every state, met people from all walks of life, and have spent the night in parking lots in parts of town that scared me. But I’m better for it and I’m still here.
The worst thing that might happen? Run out or low on money? Have a fridge blow up? RV break down? Yep, I’ve been there too. And guess what, those real-life scary moments make for the best stories.
You can keep making excuses and play it safe, but you aren’t kidding anybody (except for maybe yourself).
Don’t wait to live. Don’t put off doing something today because you think tomorrow is guaranteed. It’s not. Our health, our lives, and our energy for life will all go away sooner than we think.