If I were to describe 2017 in three words, I would use: chaotic, intense and transformative.
I set out to find myself this year and to accomplish one of my largest goals of traveling the world. When I got on the very first plane, I never imagined the whirlwind that was that about to become my life. I had no idea that this decision would change the course of my life forever.
The thing about going all in on your dreams and diving into a solo journey that nobody else can partake with you on is that you grow. That growth happens extremely quickly and at one point it can become one of the most intense moments of your life. To consistently lose and find yourself, lose and find yourself, lose and find yourself is like taking consistent leaps into the dark. You hope that something will break your fall, but there is no promise.
Going through this cycle taught me some of the most epic lessons of my life and I officially attribute 2017 as the most transformative year I have ever lived.
Here are the ten lessons that I learned from this chaotic and beautiful year.
- Everybody is doing the best that they can, this includes your parents and older relatives and colleagues.
- Saying yes is crucial for growth (mentally and financially).
- Saying no is a power move, when something doesn’t feel right don’t do it.
- I am my own best friend, the support I give myself is a direct mirror of the reality of my life.
- Consistency and hard work will always beat talent.
- I have passions for a reason, it is my job to follow them.
- Life is a choice, how I want to live my life is directly up to me and the actions I take.
- Jumping is scary but there is an indescribable thrill in waiting to land.
- Falling in love is beautiful, it is not something that should be feared.
- I am capable of whatever I put my mind, action and support towards (aka I am badass!)
These lessons didn’t come easily. They encompass the last ten months of my life, days spent questioning my decision and others spent overjoyed by it.
What they don’t tell you about going all in on your dreams is that you will never be the same person you were before you took that leap. As I board my plane home after spending months abroad, I am not coming back as the same girl that left.
The power behind this transformation is that I can feel a chapter of my life closing just as I can feel another opening. In 2018, I will take all of these lessons and use them to my advantage so that in 365 days from today I can close another chapter and dive fully into the next phase of my life.
There is a massive risk that comes with following your dreams.
You risk not having the support of friends and family.
You risk time spent away from helping you gain seniority at a corporate job.
You risk being judged on your choices.
Mostly, you risk the chance of failure.
When we imagine what it would take to really go for those big dreams that are calling out to us, we freeze in fear.
To take that route feels like jumping off of a cliff into the pitch dark, knowng that you don’t have a parachute. That leap is what holds most people back.
The thing is, we forget that this risk comes as a double edged sword.
The massive risk feels like the failure that could come about if we go all in on our childhood dreams.
In reality, the biggest risk of all is not living your potential.
Life gives you two options. To take the easy route or the hard one.
The fear of the unknown beckons us into the well lit, crowded path. This path promises us security and stability. Yet, it is missing something crucial.
This path lacks the passion, experience and the rush. It is a safe path for now but down the future it turns into something horribly jagged, unpleasent and regretful.
When elderly people were asked what they would change if they could go back in time, the majority answer that they regret not having attempted their dreams.
The regret comes in the form of taking the safe path and not giving that dark plunge into an unknown abiss a chance. In hindsight, that plunge would have defined their life.
If you ask me, there is a massive risk in going for your dreams but an even larger one in living your life with the regret that you never tried.
Set flames to your comfort zone and take this as a sign to level up your life and to take the action that the little voice in your head has been asking you to do for years.
Don’t risk the one life that you have been given.
Risk the potential for abundant beauty to come your way.
And know, you’ll never have to ask yourself, “What if?”.
A few weeks ago I felt a crippling anxiety about my future.
I realized that months of travel had completely changed me. The girl who had been so focused on her goals was no longer the same girl that I saw in the mirror.
This girl had no clue what she wanted to do with her life. The aspirations she once had no longer felt big enough. She was lost, dazed and scrambling to make sense of it all.
For about four months I felt like I was running into walls. I would hit one, turn around hit another, turn around and smack my head on another, the cycle was ever ending.
I felt like I had gone all in on my dreams of traveling the world and I had failed. With my bank account dwindling and losing hope that I would never figure out what I wanted out of life-I felt like I was drowning in a pool of my own expectations.
Yesterday I had an epiphany.
What happened in five months of travel?
I had changed. My life had changed. My goals had changed.
And that was it.
As I ran into wall after wall, I was so stunned that I was really running into doors. Doors that had been locked behind me after I took that initial leap of going all in on my travel dreams.
The doors that I walked through are a clear representation of the life that I was living, the person that I was and the aspirations I dreamed of making reality.
When I decided to go all in on my passion for travel, I outgrew who I was, my old lifestyle and my goals.
Those doors shut behind me for a reason. What stands behind those locked doors is a life that is no longer on a parallel level to me.
What happened when I went all in on my dreams is that as a woman, I leveled up.
I became an entirely new person who was capable of so much more and had reached a new potential that she didn’t know existed within herself.
To try to walk back through those doors would be like demoting myself of the promotion that I just earned.
I have to redefine myself. I have to embrace the lifestyle change that I have brought into my life. Most importantly, I have to sit down and write my new goals.
This set of new goals makes my stomach flutter. I could have never imagined being a person who is focusing on aspirations that high and it all comes down to having taken the initial leap into an unknown world that incidentally ended up changing myself and my life forever.
The most important action you can take when dealing with a fear of your future is to realize that you’re actually scared of the unknown.
When you walk through new doors, you are on a brand new floor.
Your job is to explore that new floor. Turn on every light switch, look out every window and see what’s inside every single room.
The change that is happening in your life is beckoning you to explore within it.
Just remember: change is only as terrifying as you allow it to be.
It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around people thinking the Kardashian’s are an unintelligent, famous for being famous, unsuccessful family.
According to Forbes, the Kardashian women made $122.5 million dollars from June 2015 to June 2016. That is one year worth of work. ONE YEAR.
Have you ever tried to make more than $2,000 in a week?
It’s pretty hard. As a freelancer writer, I would have to work extreme hours to pull off that kind of cash.
These girls just collectively averaged 2.3 million dollars per week.
It’s time to give credit where it is due. The Kardashian women are working hard and proving that despite being born into a pretty good financial situation, they still pushed the glass ceiling.
They each work on multiple projects at a time, fly around the world for business and are constantly being interviewed.
Their intense work ethic teaches me three valuable business lessons:
- It is time to master the art of multitasking. Kim reportedly made $300 million dollars off of her mobile game. One year later, while the game was still a highly coveted app, she launched her personal app. Behind the scenes she’s an executive producer on KUWTK as well as an active character on the show. On top of this, she has perfumes, make up lines, collaborations with her sisters and more secret projects that we haven’t even heard of. And, let’s not forget-she’s a mom of two. Now, if only we could get our hands on her planner to see how in the hell she organizes her life.
- It’s okay to be inconvenienced. As a full-time world traveler, I can be the first to say that trying to work while consistently traveling is hard. Really hard. These girls are on planes at least three times in a month. This fast paced, jet lagged lifestyle is not convenient, yet they still do it because it is good business. They meet with business executives, fashion designers, tech giants and more proving that embracing inconvenience reaps major benefits.
- To be well known, you have to be seen. Working your way up the corporate ladder? The CEO of your company needs to know you exist. Take note from the Kardashian clan-get yourself seen. Put yourself in front of the people that can change your life for the better because that’s the only way they are going to know that you are worthy of that change. Looking for a promotion? Put yourself in front of the person who is in charge of promotions, showing how valuable you are, that keeping you around is socially enjoyable and that you are a reliant member of the team.
There’s a lot to be learned from a family that made more in one year than most do in a lifetime.
The largest lesson of all?
You reap what you sow.
The harder you work, the greater the benefits. The more open you are to learning new skills, saying yes when it would be easier to say no and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and talking to important people-the higher your chances of immense success.
By acquiring this work ethic, maybe one day that two million dollar check will have your name on it.
It started in February.
I said yes for the first time in about a year to getting on a plane and going somewhere new.
That place was Colorado and the trip would change everything.
After landing and experiencing four days of epic hikes, Rocky Mountain views and National parks I had to get more.
In less than two weeks I was off to Chicago to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Then came a spur of the moment trip to Alabama, followed by a flight down to Miami and then a music festival in Memphis, Tennessee.
Four months of traveling around the USA and it had all stemmed from one word.
Of course the sites inspired me to continue my travels but something else was awakened in me during those four days.
I opened my eyes to the reality of saying yes.
Without knowing it, I had habitually started saying no to travel and anything I knew was going to cost me.
I thought it was irresponsible of me to take trips when I was still a waitress and living paycheck by paycheck.
In hindsight, I see my mistake.
By thinking that I couldn’t go on these trips I decided subconsciously that I shouldn’t ever be going on them. When travel opportunities came my way, I automatically said no.
The Colorado trip opened my eyes to all of the trips that I had missed out on and the possibility for my future.
I realized that in fact, I could travel around for pretty cheaply. Once I started looking to travel outside of the USA, it was game on. I knew I could travel for even less and be able to go long term instead of taking week or weekend trips to new places.
That one yes led to a domino effect of travel opportunities that have led me to be able to write this from Croatia.
In the past five months I have backpacked through Central America and then spent my fall exploring the streets of Europe.
Our habit is to say no to things that could cost us but what we are really doing is saying no to the experiences that are going to shape us and our lives.
Because I got on that plane to Colorado, I inevitably ended up getting on a plane by myself to Costa Rica.
In five months I have grown into a new person, somebody who is ten fold more confident in her abilities to create the life that she has always wanted.
That would have never happened if I had kept waitressing back in Nashville, thinking that someday I would finally take action on the dreams that were calling me.
Break the habit and say yes next time. This yes is like opening a door, stepping into what you feel has been calling to you all along.
Look at it as a domino effect-tap one and the rest will come down with it.
Say yes and go all in.