In January I resigned from my job in London, rented out my house and took off with my family to find a new place to call home. And we found it in Bali. If you fancy doing something similar, here are some ideas and tips to get you started on your very own journey.
Resigning, packing up our lives and heading off into the sunset was the biggest decision we ever mad. But I don't regret a thing, except for booking that one hotel in Varkala with the fluorescent light, pink walls and cockroach. Oh, and eating that raw piece of tofu. And maybe the downhill cycle tour that was really uphill.
But seriously, what’s the worst that could happen if you followed your dream? Think about it. You could die. But you could die tomorrow. Today, in fac!. You could walk out the door and get hit by a bus. So, try harder. Go on! Be creative.
Here’s some ideas to get you started:
- You get the poos / rabies / yellow fever / malaria.
- All your money gets stolen
- You find out you don’t like travelling and miss friends
- Your child(ren) turn feral, miss too much school, fail all their exams and become social misfits
- You can’t find work in the place of your dreams and end up begging on the streets.
Now mitigate those risks. That’s right. Here’s how…
Pack some immodium. Don’t eat meat in India. Don’t pet dogs or stroke monkeys. Get your jabs. Take your pills. Buy travel insurance. Take travellers’ cheques and a spare credit card. Buy a return ticket. Get a Skype account. Take noise-cancelling headphones and some flashcards. Keep an emergency untouchable stash of money back in the UK that you can call on.
Fact: The worst that can happen is that you stay and wonder "What if...?" For the rest of your life.
What is it that you want exactly? What are you looking for? What kind of a life do you want to live? There’s no point thinking that you’ll move to Australia and suddenly be a different person, with no problems or issues to deal with other than what factor sun lotion to buy. You’ll be the same person with the same personality and the same problems. Just with a suntan (unless you buy factor 50).
I thought that, if I lived in India, I’d become thin, beautiful and serene. I couldn’t even manage the thin. Manage those expectations.
The post-it exercise
Get hold of some post-its. Now, write words on them for all the things you want in life. All the things you don’t like about your current life you’d like to change. (the 9-5, commute, more/less time for children, chuck/find boyfriend…whatever). Now stick them on the wall opposite your bed. Create an inspiration board of all these words and pictures from magazines that represent what you’re looking for. (I stuck up pictures of pearly turreted chateau, infinity pools and beaches, maybe there was also the odd shoe).
The Christmas Round Robin exercise
It’s that time of year. Your mum is writing her Christmas round robin – the letter that makes you feel like such a disappointment because you’re not a lawyer and you didn’t marry an accountant. This year, though, it doesn’t make you cringe. Why? What does it say?
Mine says something like, ‘Sarah is now living in Bali with John and Alula where they have a beautiful house in the hills (not too far from the beach). She has just signed a three book deal and sold the film rights for ten million. In the spring, she'll fly to LA for the casting sessions. Alex Skarsgard is going to star in the adaptation being produced by Alan Ball. She also has a full-time nanny.’ Can you tell I've spent a long time honing this vision? Now, you do the same. As Kevin Costner once said, ‘If you build it, they will come.’
Stuff it – I’ll do it anyway!
This was so fundamental in my own shift from thinking about it to actually doing it. Here’s why.
The human brain is great at creating worries. As soon as you solve one, another fatter worry appears in its place. For me my worries went like this:
If I give up my job, will I ever get another one?
Will I lose all my friends and all my money?
What about my pension?
If I’m not Head of Something, then who will I be?
If I rent my house, will it get trashed?
What if a monkey bites Lula and she gets rabies?
If I spend 24/7 with my husband and daughter for 8 months will I end up divorced and crazy?
I learnt to quiet these worries by saying ‘stuff it’.
I'm a rational person. Kind of. Yet I believe whole-heartedly that if you are on the right path, the universe lets you know and helps you on your way.
Witness: the day I decided to resign and started to worry about money and what I would do for some (having no skills whatsoever) I met a woman who happened to be a journalist. She insisted I should just write.‘But I can’t just BE a writer.’ I said. I was thirty one and had never published anything.
‘Just do it,’ she said as though she couldn’t see what I was procrastinating about. So, I started the blog www.canwelivehere.com that very day and sent the link to her the day after. She sent it to the editors at the Guardian. On the third day, I had been commissioned to write a feature. I was a writer.
Coincidence? Maybe. But I like to think it was the universe. You disagree and roll your eyes? Well how about this, then? Some time last summer I was swimming and trying to work out whether I could actually make money from writing and I thought to myself, Stephanie Meyer has made millions. If she can do it – stuff it! So can I (nothing like the power of self- belief). After ten more lengths I had the kernel of an idea. Four months later I finished my first novel.
I wasn’t sure if it was any good, though. And the moment I started to doubt myself the universe helped me out again, showing me I was on the right path. I got off my flight to Mumbai, the first leg of the journey and was staying with my sister-in-law. Staying with her also with an American girl. A young adult book reviewer, editor and writer. What are the odds? I think you’ll find they're slim. Thank you, universe.
I spent three weeks in Goa with her. She edited my book and gave me such a boost when I was on the verge of giving up.
Every time I start to despair I get another sign – an agent, an interview with a magazine about our journey, a publisher interested in a book version of the blog. My fiction novels have just been sent out by my agent to the top ten publishing houses in the UK.
I know I’m on the right path.
Lessons to be learnt
Self-belief takes you places.
Find your passion – don’t just decide to become a speculator on the stock market because it will make you rich. I tried that and got bored after two days. It has to be something you love to do. Otherwise, the universe will ignore you.
Start telling the universe what you want. Every day say ‘I want to be a writer’ or ‘I want to be a yoga teacher,’ or ‘I want to live in Australia,’ or ‘I want to find something else to do that I love.’ I guarantee if you ask the question enough you’ll find the answer. You have to have your ears and eyes open though for when it comes.
If you’re still stuck on what you actually want to do, use the tools on Careershifters for help. They’re great. They'll probably give you better advice than telling you to read your horoscope.
Stop procrastinating or you’ll get nowhere. Take a step. Even a tiny one. Even the post-it exercise. Get the ball rolling and it won’t stop.
Do you have a vision board or post-it note wall to keep you focused on your ideal career or lifestyle? How can you make connecting with your vision more fun, rather than have confused thoughts rushing through your head? Leave a comment below.