On Life’s Big Leaps and the 100 Unsexy Steps Behind Them

It’s almost cliché by now, “Follow your dreams!” “Take the risk!,” “Quit your day job and travel the world.” The prevalence of these messages has been rising along with the popularity of social media. You can’t swing a dead cat without finding a Pinterest-esque mug without one of these inspirational quotes. I think it’s terrible advice and yet…

And yet… here I am, doing exactly just that.

A few days ago, I submitted my resignation letter and officially notified my boss about my plans to quit in November to embark on an 11-week journey through India (to complete a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training) and Southeast Asia. Yes, that’s five months’ notice. My boss was completely understanding and supportive of my decision, but as soon as I left his office, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of “Sh*t just got real.” I crossed the point of no return. At this stage, I have to follow through and make this happen. What was once in Daydream Land is now in the realm of reality.

In my opinion, the experience of being in this space, the in-between limbo world of finally MARRYING a thought/dream/hope with an action is something that most people don’t talk enough about, let alone do. I mentioned that the advices listed above were terrible largely because it encourages recklessness and romanticizes the big leap. I don’t think people should say, “F*ck it!,” quit their day jobs and travel the world and hope to become a famous Youtuber or social media influencer… without a plan. That’s stupid and reckless and will more likely end in disaster than success.

As a culture, we’ve romanticized the idea of taking the plunge such as traveling the world, moving to a new country, getting married, publishing a book, completing a marathon or summiting a huge mountain that we forget the one hundred tiny unsexy steps that lead up to The Big One. I’ve been sharing to people my plans to backpack 7 countries in Asia at the end of the year, and the most common reaction I receive is, “Wow, you’re so lucky! I wish I can do that.”

That’s all they see: the finished product, the end result, the money shot that makes it on Facebook or Instagram. What most people don’t talk about enough is the work, the drudgery, the transition, the sacrifices required to engineer that goal to fruition… I personally have a long to-do list to make sure that once the big day arrives in t-minus 5 months, I’m well-prepared for it.

The list of unsexy steps I’m making now that don’t make it to social media:

1) Telling myself “no” and foregoing items to “treat myself” (buying brand name makeup, getting manicures and pedicures, shopping designer handbags, buying drinks at the club, upgrading to the latest iPhone/camera/computer/gadget etc.) so I can reach my $20,000 savings goal by November. I plan to pay for this entire trip in CASH and still have a fat cushion once I return.

2) Becoming at peace with #FOMO and missing out on social experiences (goodbye regular brunch/dinner dates) if that event doesn’t fit in the budget.

3) Navigating the internet for hours about visas, transportations, hostels/hotels, vaccination requirements, etc.

4) Researching health care insurance plans and setting up a ROTH IRA account to transfer my 401K funds to once my #funemployment begins. Progress so far: 0.

5) Managing my anxiety from all the doubts and fears in my head about quitting my job/leaving the comforts of my life/traveling solo for almost three months AND finding an solution for each problem/fear. What happens if I don’t get another job right away once I come back? Stay away from debt and build a six months emergency fund. What if I suck as a yoga teacher? You’ll never know until you try. How will this trip affect my marriage? Will Ben and I grow apart? Keep building on your strong foundation and communicate, communicate, communicate. What if I get kidnapped/robbed/raped/become one of those travelers they show on Locked Up Abroad? First of all, relax. This isn’t your first rodeo. Be mindful, follow common safety precautions, and trust your gut.

It’s these small tiny actions and decisions that need to be made that often get overlooked, and for good reason. Nobody wants to talk about drudging the drudgery. It’s boring, it’s messy, it’s not a sexy topic to talk about. But at the end of the day, it’s the space where we find all the answers. Nobody ever feels like being in this space, but it’s the only way. There isn’t a magic short-cut ten-step life hack to achieving anything worth having. So when people tell me that I’m “lucky” and they’re “jealous” of me of taking on this big trip, I reply that it has less to do with luck than intention.

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