Why ‘The Perfect Life’ Made Me Miserable (and what I did about it)

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(UPDATED 2019)

 

What makes your heart sing?  Is it a pretty house with a picket fence or is it an airline ticket with no definite return date? 

Everyone’s dreams are different.  Some dream to have a house in the suburbs with a reliable car to drive, a happy dog in the backyard and a few kids to cart off to soccer practice each week.  Others dream of packing only what they need before travelling the world for as long as they can.

Both are great dreams to have.

It’s what makes you happy in life that’s the key. What makes your heart sing.  What lights you up when you talk about it.

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Ten years ago, I had a pretty blue, two-storey house with a white picket fence.  I knew my neighbours.  I knew my daughter’s teachers well enough that when we saw each other, we would stop and chat in the grocery store or the nearest Starbucks.  I took my daughter to soccer practice every Thursday afternoon in preparation for her Saturday morning games.  I had a car I loved to drive.  I had a job that paid me a decent income.

Eventually, I upgraded the house, the car, the neighbourhood, and the job. In my job, I’d gained a reputation of being “committed, logical, organized and extremely hard working…(performing) at a very high standard, producing exceptional work.”

And over time, I became absolutely miserable.

I lost who I was.

The dream I have always had – the dream to travel the world – had become lost in the noise of suburban life.

I was living my life of what was considered ‘normal’, succumbing to other people’s expectations of what my life should look like.  Whenever I paid the mortgage, I felt ill.  It was way more than I ever expected to pay for a house.

When Christmas came around and overabundance was expected (“because that’s what you do”), I got physically ill seeing the amount of gifts that lay under the tree.  I’m not kidding. One year I had a full on panic attack.

That was the wakeup call for me. When I received one gift after another, “because they were on sale”, I refused to do it anymore.

I knew there was more to life than thingsI wanted more from my life than things.

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Yes, there were some other ‘ah-ha’ moments that made me wake up and face reality, but when the universe is throwing example after example at you, at some point you need to listen, right?!

So, I pulled out the dream, dusted it off and started planning.

How do you go from suburban soccer Mum – to a travel blogger?

It wasn’t an easy process.

 

I looked within at what I loved doing and made a business from it.

I quit my job and became a photographer.  I called my business Aussiekid Photography because I lived in Texas and Texans love Australians.  Apart from a few weddings and events I photographed, I made greeting cards, matted and framed prints out of my travel photographs and sold them at local art festivals and markets.   I was able to make profit living this life.

 

I moved away from the place I was no longer happy in.

Why live in a place that doesn’t delight you when there is a whole world out there? When I first moved to Texas, I loved it.  My first experience with Texas was having breakfast at Denny’s.

Sitting in a booth, overlooking I-35, a waitress approached our table. Her hair was up in a bouffant style. She was wearing frosted pink lipstick and an apron with a name tag. When she approached our table she smiled, pen poised at the pad in hand and said:   “Hi.  How y’all doing?  What can I get you?”

It was like something out of a movie set, I kid you not.

I was hooked from that moment.  Everything about Austin, Texas drew me in. I moved from California to Texas a week later (when my then-husband was offered a job) without hesitation.  The plan was to stay 5 years, but that turned in 20. If you’ve ever lived in one place for 20 years, it can go very stale.  It’s especially vapid if you are living a life you don’t believe in anymore. Especially if you find yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to stay.

When the opportunity came knocking (there’s that universe again!), I jumped at it.  A year later, we moved halfway across the world and home to Australia.

 

I created the job I had always dreamed of.

I left my photography business behind in Texas and became the travel writer I always dreamed of becoming when we moved.  People used to always tell me when I lived in Texas how they always dreamed of going to Australia.  So I thought: “what better subject to write about”.  At least, I started there.

And now, I am living a life that makes my heart sing, travelling full time since 2017.

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I can hear it now:  “Okay, but how? How do you make money but more importantly, How Do I Become a Travel Blogger too?”

How do I know it’s the burning question?  When I say I’m a travel blogger, I am always asked: “how do you make money at that?”  But I think the better question is “How do I become a travel blogger too?”

—Here is my answer:

  • Sell off your worldly goods and rent out your house (if you are lucky enough to own one).
  • Invest money wisely while you are still working full time.  This will become your nest egg or your emergency plan.
  • Once you have your website built, your social media accounts established, focus on building your blogging business. There is a difference between it being a hobby and a business. Create products to sell and sign up for affiliate programs to bring in a passive income.
  • Work freelance while you are travelling.  You won’t make money immediately and if you do, it won’t be enough to sustain your travels right away.  There’s a lot of avenues for freelancing, but it depends on your skills.  Check with past employers, check out online freelance options, etc…
  • Live minimally. Buy only what you need. If you need new clothes, look at op shops, consignment stores, or discount retailers. If you can’t find it there, buy quality that will last.  It HAS to all fit inside of a suitcase.
  • Shop around for flights and be flexible.

Do What Makes Your Heart Sing.

What’s your dream life?  What plans are you making to make those dreams a reality?

The thought of a life changing event can be overwhelming. It’s a scary leap to take.  What if you fail?  But what if you succeed?  I gave myself a year to make this happen – in 2011 –  and I’m still working the plan.  It’s worth every moment to me.

Believe me, it takes courage to take the leap. I totally get that.  If you have questions about how I did it, or need a sounding board on an idea you have, leave your comments below and I’ll be happy to help.

In the meantime, here are some posts I’ve written that may help you take that first step. Or at least give you some inspiration to make a move on your own dream list:

I’d love to hear what works for you. Leave a comment below, on my Facebook page or  send me an email and tell me the first step you’re taking to make YOUR dream a reality.

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5 Comments

  1. December 14, 2016 / 10:39 am

    Thanks Rohini! Yes, it was, but one I have never regretted.

  2. October 10, 2016 / 4:55 pm

    I agree Lyn. Everyone’s dreams are different.

  3. October 10, 2016 / 4:46 pm

    Thanks Rohini. Yeah, scary as, but I’m not one to sit around waiting for life to happen either. =)

  4. October 8, 2016 / 7:23 pm

    I am so glad you like Australia. I admire you for chasing your dream but chasing the dream is not for everyone. For some of us just keeping our feet on the ground and our family close by is a big part of the dream.

  5. October 8, 2016 / 4:51 pm

    Thats a good read … Its a brave move ! ..

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