A Finnish tabloid newspaper published a story about Susanna, who went travelling to Indonesia. Initially, the trip was supposed to be a sabbatical, lasting for about a year, but the sun, the sea and the small island of Gili Trawangan stole Susanna’s heart. She decided not to return back home. That meant leaving behind the life as she knew it. She had a job in an IT-company. She had just bought a brand new flat. She didn’t have any family or friends in Indonesia, but she decided to stay.
The story received a lot of attention. The newspaper’s comments box was filled with varying responses. Many were positive. Some readers were inspired by Susanna’s story, and voiced their own dreams of moving abroad, away from the cold and dark Finnish climate. Some readers were bitter and cynical.
“It’s good for some, but life is hard you know”
“Not everyone can just leave it all and lose themselves on a tropical island”
“She must have won the lottery”
“The salaries in IT are nothing like mine”
And so on. Most readers were naturally curious to know how Susanna funded her adventure. The critics expected Susanna to be somehow privileged to be able to make such a choice. However, the truth is quite the opposite.
Susanna’s response was very simple. She had prioritised everything in her life in favour of travelling.
When her single aim was to spend as much time abroad as possible, she made sure that her priorities in other areas were set accordingly. And that meant that she gave up a lot of other things.
Susanna writes a blog about her life in Indonesia called ”Moottoritiellä on Puuma” or “Cougar on the Highway” (sorry only in Finnish). Susanna is a friend of mine, so her blog posts started to appear on my Facebook feed a few years ago. Her style is super funny, and her story very interesting, so I’ve been following the twists and turns of her adventures for a long time now and here’s the thing.
The decision to stay in Indonesia didn’t come easily. It didn’t happen overnight and it certainly was not funded with a lottery ticket. Susanna’s efforts to save money were nothing short of crazy.
She sold every single thing in her house that she owned. She saved change from each shopping trip. She worked overtime. She quit smoking. She added water to shampoos and dishwasher liquid to make them last longer.
She really prioritised everything in favour of her travels and it was certainly not easy.
Travelling is a good example of a dream, that you may have, but do nothing to turn into a reality. Or maybe you dream of writing a book, or getting really fit or starting a business. But why haven’t those dreams come true yet?
I don’t have time. I don’t have the money. I can’t follow a strict fitness regime. I don’t have a peaceful place for writing. I don’t have a good business idea.
You can’t have everything, but you can have what you prioritise. And that may mean giving up some things in your life that get in the way of your dream. If you dream of getting fit, you need to workout whenever you can. If you dream of writing a book, you need to sit down and type, even if it was a page a week. If you dream of starting a business, you need to stop planning and start doing.
Stop thinking that you don’t have the time or the money. Most dreams cost way less than you’d think (including travelling), and most of them you can start with no money at all (start a blog, go running, bootstrap your business). On average people watch 3 hours of tv every day. If you used even just half of this time on working on your dream, you’d be seeing results very quickly.
So then the real question is: Do you take your dreams seriously and are you willing to prioritise them?
The truth may be that in fact, we want more of the everyday things. We prefer to live a bit more luxuriously every day than get out of debt. We want the new flat-screen TV for Christmas much more than we want a sabbatical sometime in the future. We want to indulge now, rather than see the results of our fitness regime in a year’s time.
Or is the real reason for procrastination our lack of confidence? Dreaming is safe. Doing means taking risks. Taking the leap. Getting uncomfortable. Exposing ourselves. Scary, but so worth it!
Your dreams matter. They deserve your time, your priority and your attention. There will never be a better time to start than now. So what are you waiting for?