In a couple days I’ll be off on a backpacking journey around Europe for the holidays. While I’ve traveled before, this trip will be a completely new kind of adventure.
In my previous travels, I’ve always been the ultra-prepared and well-researched type – daily itinerary written out, guidebooks in tow, housing & car rentals booked way in advance.
This time, I’m essentially winging it.
I have my plane tickets and a couple of overnight stays set up but other than that, I’m flying by the seat of my pants and have no idea what’s going to happen. Probably a lot of aimless wandering and getting lost in foreign countries but I’m psyched all the same. And for the first time ever, I’m doing it all solo.
This kind of wanderlust backpacking trip has been a dream of mine for quite some time. How exciting I always thought it would be to meet travelers from all over the world, to wander and explore and lose myself in a new city and culture, to be surrounded by newness and adventure and possibility.
I always held back though, telling myself for years all the reasons why I couldn’t travel like this.
It’s a waste of money
It’s not safe to travel alone
I’m afraid to go
I can’t afford it
I can’t get the time off work
My boss won’t like that I’m gone this long
I’m too old to be backpacking around aimlessly – that’s something college kids do
I need to be responsible
I should be saving money
There’s other more practical things I should be buying instead
I have to do x, y, z first…
Do you tell yourself one or more of these things and hold back from following your heart’s desire?
Maybe you want to quit your job and do something you love; maybe you want to eat better or heal your body. Maybe you want more excitement in your life but are holding back and have convinced yourself that it just can’t happen. Here’s why I think you should reconsider and make your happiness a priority NOW:
1. There’s almost never a perfect time to do anything.
There are always going to be things you need to do and situations that are less than ideal. There will always be people in your life who think you should be doing other things instead of what you want to do.
Sometimes you just have to dive in and do it.
Ideally, I would love to have thousands of dollars saved up to cushion the impact of this trip. Ideally, I would love to travel for several months at a time without the constraints of a full-time job. And sure, it might be fun to go with someone and share the experience.
But you know what? I’m not going to wait for this stuff to happen because who knows how long that will be? Another year from now? 3 years from now? I’ve delayed countless trips over the years waiting for others to be able to come with and most of them have still not happened. I don’t want to sit around and wait anymore!
If you keep waiting for that perfect time when everything is lined up just right, it may never come. Or if it finally does come, you may find that such a large amount of time has already passed… time that could have been spent enjoying the things you want.
Which leads me to reason #2…
2. Life is short and time is precious.
I know this is such a cliché but it’s true. This year is almost over and everyone I know seems to be saying, “Where did the time go? How did these months fly by so fast?”
Time is something we never get back and it’s really up to us to make the most of it. I don’t want to wake up 10 or 15 years from now to realize so much of my time was spent more or less floundering around instead of living the life I want.
And here’s the thing – We don’t know what the future will bring. We all like to think that we have all the time in the world to follow our dreams and be really happy later on but what if something happens before then?
Live NOW. Do what makes you happy now. Because you just never know.
A while back I came across a list that had a big impact on me –
The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Reading these regrets for the first time actually brought tears to my eyes as I identified with several of them. Don’t let this be you. Life is yours to create – make the most of your time.
3. Happiness = Wellness
I believe that one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself is align your life with your heart and soul’s calling. Honor who you are and what your heart desires. When you are doing the things you love, you are in alignment. Things flow. Your relationships and health improve. You laugh more and feel alive. And you give your soul the greatest gift by listening and responding to it.
I’ve come to realize that happiness is truly a choice. So many people resign themselves to a mediocre life due to a perceived lack of resources, fear of change, or a lack of hope. But if you decide to choose happiness and make it a priority, something amazing happens.
Your brain kicks in and starts to come up with all the ways in which your situation can be changed. You start thinking outside the box and turn the stuck Can’t Do It energy into creativity. It no longer is a matter of IF you’ll get what you want but HOW. Because you’ve already chosen it.
We have to make our dreams priorities if we want them to happen. If you want something bad enough, NOTHING can stand in your way.
So here I am, about to take off on my first solo adventure. About to fulfill the dream I’ve held for close to a decade. And of course I’m scared and nervous and freaking out and excited all at the same time. But I’m doing it.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta take that leap and see what happens.
What dream are you working on? Share in the comments below!