I didn’t realize that I had created the exact life I said I would until a few months after Curtis and I had decided we were going to travel the world for an indefinite amount of time. I remembered that years ago I joked and said “I’m going to be retired by 40!”. I distinctly remember the reaction I got. “Yeah, right! You better start working on that”. Ironically, the joke is on me because I’m actually going to be retired at 35!
How could this be? I grew up in a single parent family on welfare, I grew up poor. I am not rich, I have spent the majority of my adult life accumulating debt and trying to pay it off. Yet, here it is, I have accomplished everything I have ever set out to do. Debt-free and about to travel the world.
As a child I moved around a lot. This is most likely where my original wanderlust came from, always excited to be exploring new surroundings. During my teen years, my mother moved from Canada to the United States and though I didn’t join her, I traveled to her frequently, further increasing my desire to travel. With a passion for travel already started, the real travel bug hit me at the age of 22.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the choice I was about to make would shape my future. I had just graduated from college. I was jobless and already $15,000 in debt. I wouldn’t be able to afford my rent for the next month. I had a friend in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (a 22 hour drive away from my home) who offered living accommodations if I wanted to move. I was running out of options so the next weekend I sold everything in a yard sale. With $160 in my pocket, I packed my clothes and my cats in the car and drove to Toronto. I was terrified of the unknown; I cried most of the way there. Within 2 weeks I had a job and my fears were erased. I really began to crave travel while exploring this new and amazing city.
As life would have it, instead of traveling, I was busy chaining myself to a life of debt. Although I would never recommend going into debt, a lot of lessons came from mine. A $13,000 line of credit that moved me the rest of the way across Canada and a $7000 bank loan for my first motorcycle, are among my debt related lessons. Both led me to travel. Both led me to Curtis. We’ve now traveled through 9 countries on motorcycle together and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
It’s often said that sometimes you need to hit rock bottom before your life can change. For me, rock bottom came in 2009 when the housing market crashed and I once again found myself jobless with a mountain of debt. While being jobless for 9 months, I was forced to rethink how I was living and what happiness was to me.
At $55,000 in debt, I began to learn that there is pride in not spending money, this was the key to my freedom. Not spending. So simple, yet so hard to do in a world that says you matter when you own things. I changed how I thought about money and possessions and the world of travel opened up to me. Paying off all my debt became a priority and 4 years later I found myself debt free. With the focus now on saving instead of spending, long term travel was suddenly possible and a plan to do that very thing was made.
Over the years I have said a lot of statements starting with “I will”. Those statements were confirmations of what my life would become. I never said “I wish” or “If only”. I never doubted that if I wanted something bad enough I would get it. My thoughts and choices would lead me to the things I would achieve. I didn’t need luck.
Thoughts are powerful. Pay attention to yours. They shape the choices you make.