It was May 8, 2016. The day we were leaving on a 7-night Caribbean cruise, and I woke up vomiting. But it was also the day that would change our lives forever, serving as the catalyst we needed to launch a major lifestyle change.
The Events Leading to Our Lifestyle Change
The planning that went into our vacations was something special. I knew how to prepare for a cruise – and then some.
Our gym routine was on point. Our daily calorie count and macronutrient intake were a science. I tanned on a regular schedule, waxed a ridiculous number of body parts, and got a mani/pedi the day before. We were ready to look and feel great for the entirety of our vacation.
But while the outside was ready to go, the inside of my body was staging a revolt.
The cruise may have been the spark for our lifestyle change, but the reasons to do it had built up over time.
Jason joined a new company in January, and things weren’t as he hoped or expected. It was the final straw in a long line of jobs and avenues he had tried but never really enjoyed. He knew he didn’t want to “work for the man,” but he wasn’t sure what that meant for us.
I reached a career milestone in February, achieving my goal of making six figures by the time I was 30. I was ecstatic because I had worked hard to get there. However, to put that in perspective, I also graduated college with over $60,000 in student loans (before interest).
Making money wasn’t a luxury. We had to make money, or we’d be indebted forever. Hustling at work and making wise decisions in life enabled us to pay off the debt in seven years. Freedom at last! It wasn’t long, though, until we found ourselves asking “But what now?”
That may sound like we were ungrateful. Spoiled. Entitled. It was quite the opposite, actually.
Our Perspective on Life
To give a little background, my perspective on life changed drastically when I was 20 years old. That December, I lost my mom unexpectedly. Though I can’t say I’m at all happy about such a tragic event, I’m so thankful for what it sparked in me.
I saw so quickly how life could change. How easy it is to say “someday” or to delay living the life you’ve always wanted. Jason and I talked about that a lot.
As we reflected, we realized we had both reached the point in our careers where it was all about the money. We didn’t enjoy or find fulfillment in our work. We were no longer motivated to reach the highest levels of management or get the next promotion.
And we never saw each other. Our marriage was more of a weekend fling than a commitment. This didn’t jive with our perspective on life, so we knew a lifestyle change was in order.
We were getting older, and we knew we didn’t want to spend the next 30 years in our current situation.
Deciding to Change Our Way of Life
Back on the cruise, I spent the first several days of vacation trying to eat toast and hydrate. I was fatigued, down in the dumps, and ready to throw in the towel on vacation.
I spent more time during my one week away in bed, rather than a beach chair. And that’s how it always happens. When your body knows it has time to shut down, you’re going to feel all the stress you’ve bottled up for months before.
A part of me couldn’t help but tell myself these were “first world problems.” I should be thankful I had a vacation worth ruining, nutrients to fuel my recovery, and clean water to keep me hydrated. But I can’t say I even had that worldly perspective to draw upon in my 30 years.
And then something amazing happened. At some point in the weeks prior, we talked about how awesome it would be to quit our jobs and travel the world. We were serious enough about it that we even brought along The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and Vagabonding by Rolf Potts.
We spent the lazy days by the pool or in the stateroom studying our wanderlust and freedom literature. And through all my agony and self-pity for those seven days at sea, we decided this adventure wasn’t an option. It was a necessity.
Remembering What’s Important in Life
It was scary and intimidating. It was like nothing we had ever done before. But it was exciting! It was liberating! And it was the most thrilling thing we’d ever done!
We flip-flopped back and forth. “Could we really do this?” “This isn’t real.” “What will Dad think?”
But every time I felt myself questioning, I remembered a YouTube video with Shia LaBeouf. His “Just do it” motivational speech is the simplest one I’ve probably ever heard. And the weirdest. But it’s perfect.
Quit your whining, stop your questioning, and just do whatever it is you’re contemplating.
It comes down to what’s meaningful to you. You might value your corporate career, and that’s perfectly fine. It may be starting your own business, raising a family, or giving back to your community. Life is short. To say you’ll “do it tomorrow” isn’t a guarantee.
Our lifestyle change is a common story nowadays, and with good reason. Picking up and leaving. Moving into a tiny home or backpacking through Southeast Asia. Focusing on what you truly want in life, versus the path that was predetermined by your upbringing.
Ignorance Isn’t Always Bliss
We aren’t trendsetters. But we’ve caught on. We’re Millennial and finally acting like it! People might say we’re doing this “life” thing wrong. But who are they to judge?
The fact is, people are always going to judge you. So, wouldn’t you rather be happily going about your day while they do it? That’s when you can claim victory!
The big dose of reality for us was that we’d been lying to ourselves for upwards of 30 years. What a waste! Now, we were ready to be truthful. We just needed to take the first step. And we have!
Now it’s your turn! What significant change have you made in your life? What big change are you contemplating? Leave us a note in the comments section below! We can’t wait to hear your story.
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