I’m 3 hours and 53 minutes from Bangkok and the next 6 months are up completely up in the air. Here’s the proof!:
At what point does talking about something finally hit the tipping point of actually taking action on it? For me it seems that every two years I finally decide to go after the things I truly want. While that’s way too much time between taking action, there is a deep, deep struggle in following through and sometimes you have to employ tactics that force action.
This post is a short synopsis of how I went from scribbling down an idea to sitting on this plane right now, and the struggles I encountered in order to make it happen. If you just want to see the 3 lock-in actions I took, click here.
A Subconscious Seed Was Planted
How did I get here? Well, two years ago, during a highly caffeinated and frustrating afternoon, I wrote my most hyper-spastic, yet strangely prophetic post to date. And in it, I described my desire to leave all the excuses behind and just go.
At the time, I definitely had no inkling of where I would go or what I would do. I just remember thinking I could get rid of all my stuff (and all the money-sucking insurance costs that go with it), pack only the important things in a bag and travel indefinitely.
Am I wannabe vagabond? Maybe, maybe not… I’ll get back to you! Do I want to design my life around travel? Yes, yes I do. And that’s a good enough reason for me to go out and try it long-term.
Anyway, as you might already know, Chad and I are a bit obsessed with the phrase “walk your talk.” But I think I’m now realizing that you can’t ignore the “talk” part of the equation.
The seed for an idea that is a bit out of the box first comes from talking about it. That could mean the voices in your head, writing it down, or annoying the sh*t out of your friends by repeating it 40 million times.
And although talking about it doesn’t win you a participation medal, it can be the seed that starts it all.
A Written Down, Public Deadline
Now that I’ve inflated “talk’s” ego a bit, I’m here to reconfirm that “talk” is still cheap.
I‘m not sure if I was purposefully giving myself a deadline on this whole travel thing or just writing recklessly under the influence of too much coffee, but that whole post I wrote wouldn’t matter right now if I didn’t write this one line:
“By January 31st, 2014, if I’m not already traveling the world via Stampabout or something else, I need to just go and travel it. Enough excuses.”
Even though I wrote the post two years ago, I initially published it last summer. So when I read it over one final time, that deadline caught my eye and backhanded me across the face.
I was about to publish a post for the whole world to see (okay, maybe my parents and a few friends), and there’s something about writing a deadline down that drives the fear of guilt into you. And guilt feels worse than most things.
Moral of the story, if you’re motivated enough to write down a deadline for a big goal, you’re going to be bummed if you don’t meet it. Even more so, if a friend reads your deadline online—3 months after it passed—and asks you about it, what excuse would be good enough?
At the time, I was still doing accounting at a dog food and treat company (albeit an awesome one) and had no plans to change course. I was comfortable, but according to my personal goals and dreams, “comfortable” doesn’t cut it.
So I started brainstorming.
Making a Plan
It can be hard to plan a trip if you don’t have any specific itinerary in mind. I’m used to picking out a cheap country and exploring it intensely for 10-14 days and returning home. That usually makes things easy.
But if I wanted to travel long-term, where would I start?
I actually had a possible opportunity to work for a friend in who lived in Dubai for four months, so that was what I focused on from July to October. But as time wore on, the door closed.
Instead of packing it in, I just decided I would at least go visit a friend in Australia. And then maybe go to the World Cup in Brazil. And since I would be out near Australia, I could check out Southeast Asia, which I heard was a good time (and cheap!).
Backing Myself Into a Corner and Following Through
Next came the hardest part. As Jordan Belfort mercilessly said,
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”
God only knows how many reasons I made up in my head as to why I shouldn’t actually do this thing:
“I’ve got a good job. I finally have some resemblance of an income. I’ll miss other opportunities in LA if I leave now. People will think I’m quitting on everything else. It will be too expensive.” And so on and so forth….
So I fought back the excuses by simply locking myself into the plan with these three tactics:
- Talk about it a lot and annoy people to the point where they actually think your serious.
As I said before, if you talk about something enough, then not only will you know you failed if you don’t follow through, but so will everybody else. I also gave my boss about a 6-month termination notice. I had to make it so it would only be a surprise to others if I didn’t go.
- Buy the ticket.
I initially bought my ticket in October. I had no plan whatsoever, but I did know I wanted to start in Bangkok and make my way to Australia and Brazil. Using some travel hacking techniques, I booked a flight to Bangkok, Sydney and Sao Paulo all on one ticket. Now, if I wanted to bail on the trip then it was going to cost me $$$ just to cancel. And I don’t like wasting money.
- Put big to-do items into motion.
If buying the ticket wasn’t enough, then finding a subletter for my room sealed the deal. Lastly, I sold all the stuff I didn’t need like I wrote about in this post.
With all of these things locking me into following through, both mentally and physically, I was damn near forced to go.
6 months later, I’m now one of “those guys” who quit their job to do something they loved, and I have to say it feels great.
I hope you subscribe at the top right of this site to keep updated on the details of what happens next! And please feel free to leave any questions about the trip you might have in the comments below!
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