We love hearing people’s dreams and what path they hope to take in life, and we never skip an opportunity to sit and listen to someone’s story. This week at breakfast we spoke with a Thai friend about the life he dreams about. He envisions moving back to his small village in Northern Thailand, opening a garage, and working on his family’s farm. To him, this is the simple life he always wanted and he is looking forward to the day it becomes a reality.
The challenge he said is “living the simple life is hard”. At first I thought he was talking about the challenges that exist with farming in Thailand or the struggle of trying to make money repairing cars. However, as he so patiently explained, this was not the concern at all. The problem is he has let his current life get in the way of his dream. Both he and is wife have jobs that make a good income and their son has friends here. He knows that they will be happier with the simple life he dreams of, but walking away from the life they have today is proving to be more difficult than expected.
Living a Simple Life is Hard
Our friend knows what he wants (a simpler life) and it is within his grasp. He can see the sign above his garage and smell the scent of engine oil from the cars he repairs. He can picture is days with fewer cares and concerns and more time to watch their son grow up. He knows they will be happy with this new life and he longs to be near his family again. Despite all of this, his feet remain firmly planted in Chiang Mai (aka the big, bustling city) as he struggles with the idea of walking away. With his dream defined, what is holding him back from reaching his dream life?
The challenge is making the decision to walk away from a life that is comfortable. – Dream Save Do
This is true for all of us. We need to give up what we know and may be comfortable with, in order to achieve the life of our dreams. We whip it up into a huge cluster of fear, uncertainty, and doubt that riddles us with indecision. We even start telling ourselves that the dream is really not that important in order to push off the decision for yet another year.
The following video, from May 2010, highlights our own experience making the tough break from our old life. We cannot believe how fat we were, but it goes to show that your dream life can include getting your body in shape.
Change is hard
To live the life of your dreams, you are going to have to give something, of likely many things, up. Brett and Kate McKay, over at the wonderful site, The Art of Manliness, call this The Law of Sacrifice. This irrefutable (that’s right, irrefutable) law says “…you cannot get something you want, without giving up something in return.” If you are not ready to take this step then accept that your “I would rather” life will have to continue without you. There is no easy path around this reality. This simple understanding and your action upon it is what separates you from the 99% of humanity who will continue to say it is too hard.
Whether it’s money, friends, or the convenience of buying anything you want at any time of day something’s gotta give.
It is not possible to create your dream life around everything you have today, or else you would already be living it.
Would you Rather?
When you were younger did you ever play the game “would you rather”? It is typically something like – “would you rather have sex with Mary Ann or Ginger (obviously it was Mary Ann because of her innocent farm-girl looks and desire not to have to listen to Ginger’s whining)”. While this was an enjoyable way to pass the time between classes in school, this same approach can be a powerful way to choose your path in life (and if this doesn’t work you can always use it to open up the eternal Mary Ann & Ginger debate with co-workers).
- Would you rather go to work tomorrow for someone else or wake up and work for yourself?
- Would you rather be dining out at home with friends or sitting on a beach in South America?
- Would you rather be driving to the store or walking to the grocery around the corner?
- Would you rather be mowing your lawn or looking out at your tiny flower bed in the city?
- Would you rather be shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond (or insert random home decorating store filled with crap you may not really need) to fill empty space in your home or able to count your possessions on 2 hands?
Guess what? There is no right answer to any of these questions, but we do expect you to be honest with yourself. If the idea of living hundreds of miles from a Bed Bath & Beyond makes you break out in hives, then you need to reevaluate your dream of living in the jungles of Borneo. If your job makes you happier than you’ve ever been, then can you really imagine being without it in your life? If living in a big house in the suburbs is all you’ve ever wanted, then walking to 9 different ethnic restaurants is likely not the most important thing in life. Also, if your ideal partner is a demanding, shallow, but beautiful actor then your ideal partner is never going to be Mary Ann.
Steps to prioritize your dream
The reality is that living your dream life is about realizing you cannot have everything. This is a shitty message to hear but one you need to accept if we’re to move on to the next step together. You must choose between the life you have today and the path you would like to take. If you still believe the “path yet taken” is the best alternative, then you are going to have to give some things up. Here are a set of steps you can take to help you take those first tentative steps down your chosen path:
- Visualize your dream life – Play the “Would you Rather” game. Identify ideal days in your new dream life. Pitch those against the life you have today and play out what you would rather be doing. This will help you to clarify your dream and visualize what you are seeking.
- Create your “give up to get” list – Make a list of 10 things you can give up in the short term in order to live your dream life. It may include hanging out with people who aren’t part of your tribe, watching tv when you could be exercising/reading a book/learning something new about your dream life, bypassing the shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond to make your apartment “cuter” when you really want to save money to buy a house, etc. List those things you’ll need to walk away from in order to embrace your dream life.
- Create your “I’d rather be… phrase” Any activity that keeps you from taking action on your dream is the enemy.” Create your “I’d rather be… phrase” based on your answer above. Use this each day when you find yourself falling into habits that are pulling you further from your dream life.
Most people choose to delay Living the Good Life because of the decisions required to fully embrace it. Actually living that life, if it is what you truly desire, is better than anything you can imagine. However, you will need to make sacrifices to step away from things you may truly love in your life today. We are cheering our on friend here in Thailand and encouraging him that the result will be worth more than he knows.
Giving things up is never easy, but surrounding yourself with a supportive tribe is a great way to help maintain to your resolve. If you are not already a member, click here to sign up to the email list. We’ll provide you weekly insights into living the good life, encouragement to take the first step, and actions you can take to live the life you crave.