I will always remember the first time my husband and I achieved our first lifetime goal. We had just stepped off of a harrowing 2.5 hour bus ride after a four hour flight and an early wake up call. We knew where we were going, had been planning it out for months, and yet the utter disbelief, the awe swept over us both simultaneously as we stood in the resort lobby. Chilling our foreheads and wiping the sweat from our brow with a dampened washcloth, sipping Champagne on a Wednesday afternoon. The lobby doors thrown open to a full view of the Caribbean sea, the wind whipping the sails of the cabana tents, the palm trees swaying in the breeze, the Patois of the resort staff flitting in the air.
All I could think was, ‘I can not believe I am here.’
A few years before this had all been a lofty dream. I was going to school full time, working part time. He was working full time at a landscaping company. But we knew what we wanted out of life, and we set about making it happen. Day by day.
What do you want out of your life? What experiences do you long for? Where do you want to go, what nooks and crannies do you want to explore? What kind of things do you want to do for others, those you love, and those who have never met but have a kindred spirit to?
Do you think this life is for others? Do you seethe in jealousy when friends and family share their plans? Do you put it off for ‘someday’ when you will suddenly have more money? Just know it’s not going to happen for you?
Why not you?
I have a few theories. I think we give it all away before we even take a moment to think about what it is we really want this paycheck to do for us. What are we hustling and bustling around to do? To live to work another day, to pay bills and die? Not me.
There has got to be more.
There is the hierarchy of needs in our financial lives, for sure.
But then, there is the peak.
The sweet spot that we are seeking to achieve so that we get to make memories and check off bucket list items. That euphoric feeling that we get when have accomplished something that we have always wanted to do, but we never really thought it was possible for us.
This is your why.
This is what I want you to connect with so that you can get through the hierarchy of needs and the time and discipline to get through the day to day tasks of paying attention to your finances, your paperwork, creating systems that work for you.
I want you to get out of debt, have an emergency savings account, and a 401k. But what’s more? What makes it worth it? To get to your why. To make it to the place where your paycheck is going to where you want it to go, to live in the anticipation of planning out your next adventure.
Dream out at least 5 major life bucket-list type experiences.
My husband and I made our list years ago before we were even married. We have completed 3 of the 5 and the many other must-do, want-to-dos, and need-to-dos along the way. It’s really remarkable when you look back over the years.
- JAMAICA √ We went to Jamaica for our wedding/honeymoon. We went again for our 10 year wedding anniversary. I mean, between the two of us, as kids growing up in our own families a vacation meant Advenutreland in Des Moines, IA or Six Flags Great America in Gurney, IL. And here we were standing on the beach looking out into the crashing waves of the ocean.
- TAKE OUR KIDS TO DISNEY WORLD √ We took our kids on a 9-day trip to Disney World, staying on site in a resort and eating off the deluxe meal plan. It was an amazing family vacation that I could have never dreamed of.
DREAM HOME √ We own our own home. Like own, own it. (Okay so the list says Dream Home, but to be honest I don’t even know what that is anymore. Houses are more work than they are dream. #truth) We may want to move in the near future, or we may decide to travel more and more and keep our modest home base. Or we may do some combination of both. We like our home and what we have created it to be. It’s our own joint collaboration art project in constant progress.
- RED CARPET MUSIC AWARDS. So, this one is still a little obscure to me. It’s my husband’s pick. We should revisit this one. If it’s important to him, I want him to do it.
- AUSTRALIA. Australia awaits. And has long since been forgotten. But to be honest, seeing it on this list has me excited.
We made this list on a hot pink post-it and tacked it to the refrigerator in my first apartment. I don’t have it anymore but it is emblazoned in my mind.
Your priorities, lists, and dreams will change over time.
You will have yearly priorities that will cut in front of your dream list. There will be have-to-do’s and want-to-do’s that will pop up instead. There may be some cutbacks and financial priorities that should come first. But in between, there will be peace of mind, financial security and stability and sweet memories made at home and smaller family trips and weekend activities to fill the gaps. Every year write down a list of priorities that you want to make happen for that year. I hope that every year you get to work towards one of your major 5, but if not, don’t put your life on hold until someday.
Living a richer, more fulfilling life is about more than just checking off the perfect financial score card of paying off debt, having 6 months of emergency savings and good credit. It’s about spending your time and your money on the things that you value, on your own terms, not the rest of society, not your parents, your co-workers or your neighbors.
We live in a noisy world. Make sure you can hear your own desires.
There are a lot of steps and you won’t get there overnight. But I don’t want your journey to be a stark and meager existence. I want you to take actionable steps to connect your daily actions to achieving a richer, more fulfilling life on your own terms today. If your dream is to hike the Pacific Coast Trail, I want you to have plans to hike your local trails this weekend. If you want to Kayak in the ocean, then find a local spot you can explore at home. Discover what moves you, figure out how you can get to that place, and how you can get some of that dream life into your day to day existence.
Image created by Canva.
Don’t wait for some day. Life loves the liver of it – Maya Angelou
Go Deeper. More Inspiration found here:
Like Dave Ramsey says “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else”
David Bach’s Dream Buckets (#7 on this list)
How to travel the world, create a life that doesn’t suck, and explore the happiness of pursuit — with Chris Guillebeau by Ramti Sethi
How to Travel: 21 Contrarian Rules with Ryan Holiday & Tim Ferris
Rolf Potts on Travel Tactics, Creating Time Wealth, and Lateral Thinking by Tim Ferris
ACTIONABLE STEP: Take some time to determine your why. Write a list of 5 major lifetime dream goals. Then merge them with your significant other, if you have one. This is your inspiration for making changes to your financial habits. This is what keeps you going when you’d rather not go any further. This is what makes it all worth it.
EXTRA CREDIT: Consider making a Pinterest board or a vision board of your top 5 lifetime dream goals. I think it will come in handy on days when you need a little extra encouragement.
CONNECT: I’d love for you to share your Dream list with me! Come back & comment below.