I’m in a bit of a pickle. I am a 22-year-old woman living with my 23-year-old fiancé. I’m about to finish my degree, and once it’s completed the two of us will be moving back in with his parents until the wedding, and then we plan to move abroad after a long honeymoon in India.
Where the problem comes in, is the future we have paved for ourselves. For a long while, even before the two of us met, I’ve not been enthused by the 9-5/office job lifestyle. I’ve always wanted to travel for extended periods, earning money whilst seeing the world.
When we got together of course I had to make some serious considerations in my head. Once we’d been together for a while, and I knew this was going to be for the long-haul, I brought it up with him and it was clear that he didn’t want to join me in this venture. Which is fair enough, we’d essentially be moving from country to country every 6-12 months, living my dream, with my partner following me around from job to job. It’d be unfair on him. Later, we came up with a compromise. We’d spend a few months in India for our honeymoon. Great stuff.
However, the more time goes by, the more I realize that a few months in India isn’t going to satisfy this urge. I find myself looking at teaching English abroad every month or two, places to go, qualifications to attain, etc. But after a couple of hours I always end up saying, “Well, it’s not actually going to happen, it’s just a dream, so stop wasting your time, you fool.” Then I sort of give up, feeling a bit deflated.
This keeps happening, and more and more frequently. So now I seem to be stuck in this horrible dilemma of: Do I set aside my dreams, perhaps regretting never even trying years from now? Or do I leave my fiancé, whom I love so much, and perhaps regret that years from now?
Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe
Dear “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe,”
A pickle indeed, you are in! (Sigh. Yoda impersonations never work via text.) Anywho, if you know me, you know I’m all about giving you the tools to make the best decision for yourself. So, what I’m about to share with you will not only do just that, but it’ll change your life. (#HumbleBragging.) I could break all the information down for you here, but my brother-from-another-mother, Srinivas Rao, did it so eloquently in his article “5 Things I Had to Give Up to Be Successful,” it’d be a shame not to refer you to it. I encourage you to check it out here.
From it, you’ll learn the dirty little secret to living the life of your dreams: “There’s an opportunity cost to everything worthwhile in life.” And while we all may get that mentally, it’s only after we fully accept it that we can embrace who we are and set a solid foundation for living contently ever after.
You see, your question is so much bigger than “Should I do this?” or “Should I do that?” It’s “How do I live the life of my dreams and be 100% okay with it?” And the answer to that comes down to not only knowing, but accepting the cost of your dream. After all, regret, lack of conviction, and feeling guilty about who and how you are can spoil any well-planned, globe-trekking adventure or marriage.
As Rao points out, if you want to be a doctor you’ll give up basically a decade of your life to training. And if you want to be an entrepreneur you give up, amongst a thousand other things, the need for certainty and security through a steady paycheck. If you want kids you give up the ability to take more risks and financial freedoms. And, as you’re finding out now, if you want to travel the world you give up familiarity, time with friends and family, and a sense of belonging and community. Gulp. That’s a lot.
In my case, I chose travel over everything else and it was worth it because, as Prince Ea beautifully points out in this video, we don’t necessarily have dreams, they have us. When it came to giving up other things to live the life of my dreams, some things were easier to let go of than others. I was fortunate enough to learn early on that I had to give up other people’s definition of success in order to find the peace I sought after intimately observing my millionaire mentors struggle with personal fulfillment; but as you can see in my book “The Care and Feeding of Sex Symbols,” giving up baggage related to past experiences took “a little” longer.
So, here’s the tool I want to give you to help you solve this, and similar, dilemmas as they arise. When you find yourself really wanting something write down what it is and put it in one column. Then, write down what belief, habit, etc. you’ll have to give up in order to achieve it in another column. Finally, if you’re willing to pay the cost, in the last column write down what you’ll need to do physically and/or mentally to support your desire in light of its cost. From this process you will also get how creative you can be with your compromises, and when something is so far of a reach that it no longer supports who you are as a person.
All this, my dear, is a great secret for you to learn at your age. It will serve you greatly in achieving contentment whilst being your most authentic self. And it will also help you build the proper foundation for a life that fulfills your deepest desires. And once you have that foundation the rest will fall into place. Best of luck, and when in Venice stop in Harry’s and have a Bellini for me ;).
Note: As this column is designed to be a judgement-free zone, only those who have been, (or know someone who has been), in a similar situation are invited to comment; especially if the question is unorthodox or hard for one to relate to. And for even more relevant insight, those seeking answers are always encouraged to go within.