Do you know how to talk yourself out of doing something? You focus on the details, the outcome, and the potential roadblocks ahead before you even dip a toe into the water of your new project.
- Before going back to college you fixate on the one class – statistics, chemistry, whatever – you know will be really hard, even though it is more than one year into the program.
- You want to clean out your basement and make it a useful part of your home, but you keep waffling on how you’ll eventually use the space – game room, mother-in-law suite, or home office – instead of actually hauling crap out of there.
- You want to meet someone new, but you know it will make your life more complicated. You worry about sharing holidays between families and how you’ll handle finances with a person you haven’t even met yet.
Worrying about the later is the death blow to the now.
The most important decision is the one right in front of your face, not the one days, weeks, or years down the road. In fact, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
That thing you are so worried about right now will likely be a non-issue by the time it actually comes around. It is only a stumbling block for you right now because you do not have the clarity of action and experience to guide you.
Let’s put it into perspective:
- If you go back to college and spend at least one year studying, performing well, and exercising your brain in a subject you love, don’t you think the hard class you dread will become more manageable with that kind of foundation? If you told me I had to take a statistics class right now I wouldn’t be too excited about it, but if I was able to pair my learning with the field I was already studying, it would be much easier. Without that background, though, it still seems overwhelming.
- If you start cleaning out your basement, even in just 15 minutes a day, as the space clears you will be able to determine how it best fits into your life. But as long as that crap still sits there, you can’t see it.
- If you go out and meet someone new and start a relationship, the topic of sharing holidays and money will come up in the natural progression of things. You will deal with them in real time and in ways you may not even be able to fathom right now. So look for someone compatible and interesting and let everything flow from there.
Have sex before you start naming your babies, for heaven’s sake.
Take the Next Step (all the way to Portugal)
We talk a lot about taking the next step, and there’s a reason for it: It is really freaking important.
Over the next several months we are putting this “take the next step” advice to the test for you to follow along. We left Chiang Mai, Thailand on April 1, 2012, and we’ll be traveling overland through China, Mongolia, Russia, and Europe all the way down to Portugal, for a total of 18,000 or so kilometers (or 11,200 miles).
We don’t have any set itinerary, and we will only be scheduling our lodging one destination out. It is an experiment in living in the moment and adjusting based on the experience we’ve had so far and the opportunities that come our way.
We’ve already had a few potential roadblocks:
- Russian visas are more difficult to obtain when outside your home country. We are still unsure if we’ll be able to make this work, which would mean altering our course to Europe to enter from the south instead of the north. We’ll find out more when we get to the Russian Consulate in Beijing. It’s on our radar, but we’re not losing sleep over it.
- A long-term house sit offer on another continent was extended out of the blue, but it would mean cutting our adventure short. While it was tempting, we chose to stick with our original plan. The big lesson here is that even if we had chosen to take it, it wouldn’t have been a bad move. We still don’t regret leaving South America early to take advantage of the offer of a cruise across the Atlantic to England, and we keep that experience in mind when it comes to new opportunities.
- Our Chinese visa is 90 days, double entry, which means we can stay in the country for 180 days with a border crossing and re-entry halfway through. We plan to use the first 90 to get up to Mongolia for the annual Naadam games, but do we keep going to Russia after that or do we return to explore China for 90 more days? It puts us at risk for bad weather when/if we go to Russia and later to Europe.
As we make our way to our overall goal of traveling overland from Thailand to Portugal, we are leaving everything in between open, focusing the majority of our efforts only on the very next step. We’ll be updating you along the way as to how we fare on this trip and what unexpected opportunities arise along the way (because one thing I know for sure is that they will – action insures this).
How this applies to you
Are you stuck in the here and now while contemplating future problems or decisions? The good news is that step one at getting unstuck is actually the same as step two and step 27 and step 58 and step 193:
Take the very next step toward your overall goal.
That’s it. Nothing bigger, more mysterious, or complicated than that.
- Sign up for school.
- Take one thing out of your basement and recycle/sell/donate/trash it.
- Tell your friends and acquaintances you are ready to date again.
Pick a color, say yes to something good, say no to something bad, set a date, join a club, ask him out, pay the fee, sign your name on the dotted line. Whatever that next step is: Do It.
Take out the drama and just get busy.
We’ll be posting regularly on this topic as we travel to Portugal to show you how we handle real-time decision making while working toward an overall goal. Travel makes a great backdrop to a life lesson like this because of the obvious start and finish points and possibilities for diversions along the way.
Will we make it? (Hint: of course we will! And you will, too, if you simply get started and keep moving.)
Interested in a big project that takes some cash to get started? Check out our book, Dream Save Do, to find out the step-by-step process we used to fund our grand adventure.