With any kind of lifestyle there are ebbs and flows, highs and lows, exciting times and boring times. Living full time on a sailboat and cruising around the world is no different.
Currently, as I write this, I’m feeling a bit low and lost.
Based on everything I’ve learned and experienced, these down-days come and go just as the exciting adventurous ones do.
On reflection, however, the highs are higher than they’ve ever been before and the lows don’t come close to the down-days I had in my old life. It’s as if my whole happiness or fulfillment average took a massive shift upwards thus making the exciting times the most exciting I’ve had. And the lows – heck, the lows I now feel are close to the highs I felt when I participated in the rat race.
A bad day today is like a good day in my old life!
And look at the view I have sitting in a bay anchored in Sardinia – It can’t be that bad – eh?!
What’s interesting to contemplate about ‘living the dream,’ is that living the dream doesn’t change the way life works but perhaps it expands the level of overall fulfillment – but that only happens if you prepare for it.
Living the dream doesn’t just happen – you make it happen.
Living the dream isn’t about finding the perfect life nor is it about the eradication of down days. It certainly isn’t about winning the lottery or swimming in pools of cash. Living the dream, as I’m defining it more and more every day, is about self-reflection, contemplation, patience and growth.
It’s about getting to know yourself well enough to determine what ‘living the dream,’ means in the first place!
Before we sold everything, purchased a 56’ sailboat and started sailing around the world, I was a different person. I was someone that subscribed to the ‘normal’ plan – and that was to grow up, get a good education, start a family, get a good job, make a good amount of money, buy a house/car/boat and do your best to fit in. And by fitting in, I mean to do your best to be a good citizen…a good neighbor…a good friend…a good wife.
As I got older, the ‘normal’ plan stopped making sense to me.
In order to fit in I had to be someone that I wasn’t – I had to be a successful businesswoman. I was successful, I am a woman and my career was in business. The problem came with the fact that I don’t like business. I actually created a finance company – I don’t like finance. To this day I don’t actually understand what my company really did. I became financially successful because I was tenacious, driven and stupid. I made loads of money but never considered whether the journey was fun or not.
Other things in the ‘normal’ plan that stopped making sense included living in a house, staying in one job or one area for the long-term, saving my money for a rainy day (or retirement), eating processed chemically-laced genetically-modified food, putting my daughter in a education system that supports mediocrity at best, a reactive (rather than proactive) health system and the government and politics in general…
Before we left the real world I felt as if everything was broken.
And that’s me. I’m not here to preach and to say that something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Things are only ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in relation to how you feel about them. What’s normal to me is odd to others…
My issue was that rather than using self-reflection and contemplation, I just did what society deemed as ‘normal’ and ‘good.’ For some people societies general plan for a successful life works for them. For me, it didn’t work yet I took 35 years to figure it out. For all my life I felt as if I was a round peg trying to fit into a square hole.
Heck – some people never figure it out so I won’t bash myself about it.
Over a long period of time, perhaps a year, I went through a stage of living in a void. I had a baby, quit my job/company, sold my shares and felt lost. Nothing made sense so I had to call it a day, stop the trajectory of my life and figure out who I was and what I wanted ‘normal’ to be.
After loads of self-contemplation I started to understand what I liked and didn’t like about my life.
In fact, I’ve spent hours writing down everything I hated about my life and then I’d write the opposite to get to grips with where I wanted to go rather than where I was. (I wrote about this exercise on one of my other websites. It’s about changing your job but this exercise works for anything and everything. I use it often – read it here: How to finally change your unsatisfying job!)
Interestingly, what emerged from all my contemplation was that I love to write, I’m not fussed about having a big house or things. I love to travel. I love to sail. I LOVE THE SEA. I love to connect with people on a deep level. I love to hear stories and I love to tell them. I love fresh local fruits and vegetables that have taste. I love food – I really love food and I love to eat good food. I love my family and I love the idea of having a family that grows and spends good quality time together.
I love the idea of creating my own family made up of like-minded people from all over the world.
I love money and I love to earn money and spend my money on increasing the things that make me fulfilled. I love taking care of my health and ensuring my family is healthy (mind, body and spirit)!
And as for the government or politics – I’ve removed myself from them. We don’t have a TV, we never see the news and my life is better for it. Watching or listening to the predominantly negative media never made me happy. Why engage in something that makes you unhappy? It doesn’t make sense…
Life is for living and I’m now truly living the life that best suits me.
And that is one of the secrets to happiness. It’s not about doing what anyone else thinks is right. It’s all about you taking the time to ask yourself who are you? What do you love? What makes you thrive?
And even when you answer all those questions and increase your fulfillment level, life still is life. Life still has those highs and lows…but that’s okay. It’s okay to be down and it’s natural. What’s not okay is to be down all the time. Life is too short not to figure out what makes you tick and what will allow you to truly live.