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Updated: Jan 2, 2023

𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦 𝐞𝐱𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐥𝐲, 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐲?

After my recent birthday post this question that my niece posed to me in February replayed in my head. I noticed I mentioned “The Dream” a lot in my caption and thought to myself I’ll bet most people’s assumption about my dream is not correct.

The last two years of my life is NOT my dream! In fact, my dream travel life is the obstacle destroying my big picture dream! Shocking I know! 50 Cent said it best in the Power theme song. “I never took a straight path nowhere. Life's full of twist and turns. Bumps and bruises, I live, I learn.” I learned early in life that you have to be willing to reinvent yourself when things aren’t going according to plan. In 2016 I was burned out and frustrated that I had not reached the level of success that I envisioned for the 18 years of effort and discipline that I had put into chasing my dreams. I made the decision that I was going to become an expat to take advantage of the financial opportunities that being an expat would present. When becoming an expat didn’t go as planned I reinvented myself as a nomadic free spirit exploring the world. This version of my dream has done the very opposite of my initial intention. I have spent thousands of dollars instead of saving thousands of dollars and that is how pursuing one dream has totally destroyed the other.

Below is a bullet point list of what the ultimate dream is for me. The first four are necessary to achieve the last two. I’m still operating in survival mode because my needs are not met and you can’t serve others if you are not taken care of. Note that only 1 of 5 dreams is completed (✔Complete | ✖ Incomplete).

Financial Freedom – My idea of financial freedom is having minimal monetary obligations to your income. This is a dream I chased for many years. I was always trying to generate extra income to put towards my student loan debt, auto loan debt, mortgage debt and credit card debt. I never really carried credit card debt unless I was between jobs, but I stopped doing that after my financial crisis in 2009. I vowed I would never rely on credit cards to stay afloat again. In 2013 I FINALLY paid off my car and student loans. In 2017 I eliminated my final major debt instrument when I made the decision to sell my house instead of leasing it. Since I’ve been on this travel journey my maximum financial obligation has been roughly $200 (Life Insurance $23 | Gym $9 | Misc. Insurance $11 | Health & Dental Insurance $75 | Cell Phone $85). Granted I have a lot more expenses when I travel roughly about $2,000 a month, but those are all optional. I will also take a moment to say here that I am not a free loader so even though family and friends have graciously offered me free lodging over the last couple of years I try to offer some type of monetary appreciation for them having my back! If they won’t take money I find a gift they like that they can’t refuse because it’s already purchased.

Financial Independence – This is the sweet spot of life. In a perfect world I would have come up with a brilliant idea, product or service that allowed me to stock away tons of money when I was young. That money would then be paying me a dividend monthly that allowed me to live my life without touching the money that is saved. Financial independence takes EXTREME discipline and sacrifice. I completely own the responsibility of the CHOICES I made to LIVE instead of exist over the years. I could have made a CHOICE to be unhappy in many jobs as most people do for the sake of seeking financial independence. I could have made a CHOICE to take my job search seriously in April 2017 and possibly found an expat job to start by August 2017 as planned. I could have made a CHOICE to find a job somewhere in December 2017 so I could plan a financially responsible strategy to become an expat. I could have made a CHOICE to work the full six months of the contract job I took in October 2018 instead of only working three months knowing I signed a six month lease. I understand that there are MANY CHOICES that I could have made over the years to be closer to this goal than I am. At the same time I wouldn’t change any of those choices because every choice I made was a choice of mental health over money.

Stability – This living pillar to post is NOT the business. I like having my own space! I am very particular when it comes to my environment, so the hardest part of the last two years is the constant adjustment to my environment. It doesn’t matter if its somebodies home, a hotel or an Airbnb I have to go through a whole process to make myself comfortable. When I am on the road I usually only book my lodging a few days at a time, so I’m constantly moving and adjusting. I do not like moving. I hated moving in and out of the dorms in college. My junior year I moved into an apartment that I stayed in until I graduated. When I graduated I lived in the same apartment for three years before I bought a house at 25 years old. At the time I made sure to buy a house that I would live in forever because if I didn’t meet Mr. Right I planned to retire in my house. If I wouldn’t have had the change of heart to become an expat which meant I had to move anyway I would still be in my house. Although I started to hate the neighbor behind me, so I maybe would have sold for that reason.

Work / Life Balance – I post a lot on social media about me hanging out with family and friends. I wish I had so much more of that happening in my life. Spending time with the people I care about is priceless. Unfortunately this takes a back seat often because I am working on learning a new skill and trying to obtain financial independence. The ultimate work/life balance dream would be to have the freedom to enjoy time with family and friends without the anxiety of neglecting task that could possibly generate income.

Health & Wellness – I put on 20 pounds at the height of my financial crisis in 2009. That number increased to 40 pounds over the next few years as I worked to recover. For the last ten years I haven’t liked the reflection in the mirror. It’s easy for people to say if you don’t like it change it. Well for me it’s not that simple. Honestly I like working out. I am that person that can go to the gym and stay for hours. I don’t eat a lot so I would easily burn the excess calories if time wasn’t a factor. My issue for the last ten years has been the fact that I always choose chasing the financial dream over working out. Instead of waking up and going to the gym I wake up and I’m on the computer. My dream is to be able to wake up and make my workout the first thing I do each day without the pressure of other more important things to do that would generate income.

Mentorship / Influence – I have gained a ton of experience in these 42 years on this earth. I believe I have a lot to offer to people coming behind me. I do get to use my blog platform to share some of my life experiences in a form of mentorship, but I wish I had the time to do way more than I do. I would love to spend more time helping first time homebuyers, single women, young adults and entrepreneurs through their pain points. The reality is I still need to offer this knowledge for profit because I have not reached the place of financial independence that would allow me to operate a free model of my services.

Philanthropy – Last but not least I thought my Philanthropy efforts would be much more evolved at this point in my life. Over the years I always set goals for tithing and how much I wanted to give to certain charitable organizations. The last two years this area of my life has been non-existent. Granted I find ways to bless local people through my travels, but that is on a much smaller scale than what I want it to be. I’ve always been really impressed by people who volunteer their time. I’ve always silently wished that I had the financial means to carve out time to volunteer.

Notice not one of my goals had a materialistic ring to it. What I know for sure is that things do not make you happy. I am a pretty simple girl so my materialistic goals were always basic and easily achievable. I wanted to buy a house before my 25th birthday and I did it. When I started selling Mary Kay I didn’t want to win the free car, I wanted to make enough money to buy one and I did it. I wanted to travel and I did it! I wanted to be a millionaire and technically I did it. I have never had a million dollars at one time, but over the course of my careers I have generated a million dollars in income. Note, I STRUGGLED a lot financially in spite of being able to say I’ve made a million dollars in my lifetime so a million dollars is not the answer to your problems!

Now that all the “material” stuff is done. The only thing left to do is to live my purpose!

How have you had to reinvent yourself? What details are people missing about your dreams?

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