Life is a funny little thing. We wake up each morning with a plan for the day, the week, the month, maybe the year and some of us for the next five to ten years. Today I woke up, followed my usual Friday routine – breakfast, gym and email. Then it hit me that I would be dropping off my daughter with her uncle who works in a nearby town. The ironic part for me was that his office is across the street from the apartment complex that I lived in almost ten years ago when I first moved to Atlanta. That got me thinking about what my life was like while I lived in that apartment. I started thinking about how I came to Atlanta to do my internship with CNN. I started thinking about all the plans, ideas and dreams that I mapped out on the floor of that tiny 600 square feet apartment.
At the time, I had just finished getting my degree in Exercise Science. I had dreams of owning my own successful fitness center, be the trainer to the stars, buying a home, getting married and settling down to have children; the typical American Dream, I guess. Of course, I wanted this all by the ripe age of thirty. Some of the goals I accomplished, some I did not…at least not according to the vision that I had in my head at the time. Actually, once I accomplished a few of these goals, I found out that what I had so badly wanted, was not what I really wanted. For example, I wanted to be a home-owner so bad. Simply because that is what I was supposed to do after I found a steady job, right? It was the next notch in the belt of success. I hated it. I hated the maintenance, I hated the nosy neighborhood, I hated almost every aspect of home ownership, including the selling of the home. It was just not for me. It did not excite me, it did not light me up. This made me question many of the things that I thought I wanted. Did I really want this life or was I just following along the path that I thought I should be following?
Many people, including my husband Rob have at one time made long-term plans for their life. Of course, these plans often include the exact way the goals will be achieved. In fact, many employers ask the same question when interviewing, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” What was that saying… “When you make plans. God laughs.” Well, when I hear that question, now I laugh.
Looking back now at where my life was ten years ago compared to where it is today, it is so wild. Sure, part of the original dream is the same. I am thirty-one, married with a family. But the path that I had envision is so drastically different than the path I actually took to get here. I could never have predicted that I would be traveling the world, making travel videos and writing guidebooks. In fact, if you asked Rob or myself three years ago, we would have thought you were crazy. But, I would not change my life. Rob and I have designed our life on our terms. It is not the way that many ‘think’ we should live. But we honestly do not care. We live life on our terms with no excuses.
What I live by now is one simple idea. You need to have a vision of what you really want in your life. But the path that you take to get there ultimately is not up to you to plan. You have got to be open to the twists and turns life throws your way. Currently, my dream is to live in Italy. Actually, if I am honest, since my first visit to Italy at age sixteen, I have had this yearning to live ‘La Dolce Vita’. Now, I do not let myself get caught up in who, how and when I will live there. I just know that I will. Each and every day I take another step toward my dream, and I know that the path may change, curve and even sometimes detour. But, in the end, I will live in Italy.
So ask yourself, “Five or ten years ago, could you have detailed out exactly where you are in your life currently?” Probably not. Your five or ten year plan probably failed. But hopefully, it failed for the better like mine did. It failed because what I originally thought I wanted was not authentic. Now, I have a real chance at achieving my dream, not just the American dream.
Find out what you really and truly want in your life; no excuses necessary. Do not get caught up in the details of how; just take the next step forward. Accept life’s challenges and blessings. Know that it will happen. Go after it harder than you have done anything else in life.