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Monday, 27 November 2017

Escaping the Jungle...: Plan to Plan to Plan

Escaping the Jungle...: Plan to Plan to Plan: So you have dared to dream, and decided it's time to do something about it? Dreams can be many things, but if you're following us, w...

Plan to Plan to Plan

So you have dared to dream, and decided it's time to do something about it? Dreams can be many things, but if you're following us, we're going to make some assumptions. For example, we assume you have decided to go travelling, sailing, rv'ing, or just want to go live a simple life somewhere. We suspect your dream includes warm weather, famous tourist attractions, different cultures, and/or all sorts of things your 'safe life' doesn't offer. We'll also assume the most important people in your life are at least somewhat supportive. If chasing your dream involves a major lifestyle change, it will be very important to give your spouse or significant other time to adjust to the idea. It will also be important to give them information overload on why this change will be so great. Having an only slightly excited co-participant will make every step exponentially more difficult. Remember to treat the process like a negotiation, where the goal of every resolution should be a win/win solution. If they support you in this venture, be willing to be flexible to cater to whats important to them.

Once you are committed to the dream, define specific goals. When we went sailing, we defined that we wanted to sail down the east coast, and onward to Bahamas. Once you have the plan, do some research on the practicality of your plan. Search out Facebook groups of those who have done it, online forums, read books, and try to connect with any credible sources you discover. Know two things: You will get lots of advice; You will get lots of BAD advice. Don't believe any advice you receive unless it comes from a reliable source (not internet) or the advice aligns with what you are hearing from several sources (such as several internet groups). On things like visas, and residency rules always try to get the info from government websites. This can be confusing, so go to forums and groups first, to get a layman's opinion. Then try to confirm them with the government site.

The most important part of the plan is to set a deadline. As we discussed earlier, FEAR will always work to undermine you. Renee Petrillo, Author of A Sail of Two Idiots, once told me this. She said "you will always want more money, and more experience". Just set a date, and you will find a way to meet it.

Once you have created a rough draft of "The Plan", write it down, and give it the 'one week test'. Come back to it in a week and see what holes you can poke in it. Allow your negative voice to take over for just a little while. Imagine the worst that can happen in your plan. Then create a plan B and Plan C to combat how you will handle the worst case scenario. Try to come up with a solution to every foreseeable obstacle you may encounter.

Once you are confident with your plan, to the 'this could work stage' bring it to your spouse or co-participants. Leave the plan with them an encourage them to find flaws that you may have overlooked. Be sure to also encourage their creative input on solutions. Share with them that the goal is to create a plan that will accommodate for all but the absolute most unexpected obstacles.

Once you both have resolved that your plan is as bulletproof as you could ever hope it to be, draw up a list of people to discuss it with. Every family and friend group consists of a variety of people. There is the protective father, who analyses everything with minute detail, to the creative genius, to the person who you know you can count on to bail you out of jail... not that that will EVER happen if your plan is good... HOPEFULLY! Know how each person thinks and what their motives are. Do they support your dream and just want you to be careful? Do they want nothing more than to talk you out of it. By knowing their motives, it will help you to decipher what to take away from their feedback and what to filter out.

After all the discussion, and feedback, formalize a working plan in writing. Know that this will always be a fluid plan that will require many tweaks along the road. Use this plan to start creating 'To Do Lists'. Start by scribbling down every possible to do that you can envision will be necessary to get you from where you are, to where you need to be to realize your dream. Its probably best if you work alone, creating your list, before gathering with any co-participants to brainstorm. Be sure to let the others know to create lists as well.

Once you have created a long list of to do's, break the list down into immediate steps, mid range steps, and long term steps. Also break the list into tasks assigned to each participant. Look at what skill is required, and which participant is best at that type of task. Assign the tasks along with target completion dates. If needed, draw a flow chart of what follow up tasks can begin as a result of each completed task.

Be sure to get together, to discuss progress on a regular basis. Try to always do this in a relaxing environment. If you are going sailing, or RV'ing, you may want to even do it over a glass of wine, or a Cuba Libre. After all, you'll need the practice. Just be sure to remember that the goal of Living the Dream, is to improve your quality of living. So don't let stress overtake the planning process. You or your spouse will have busy weeks, where some targets are not met. Smile, breath, and talk about how you can help each other get back on track. The most rewarding part of the planning process is checking off completed tasks, and knowing you're making progress. Keep a chart to reflect on the progress you've made.

Through it all, know there will be times where the dream will seem impossible. Be sure to have something to reflect on that helps you envision the Dream. For me, I kept a framed picture of a sailboat at my bedside. The caption read "Get Your Dream's Worth". Every night before I turned out the light, I was reminded what I was striving for, and why.

Also, always have a firm understanding of what is your bottom line. I like to weed out all that complicates our lives, and simplify things down to the bottom line. It allows for clearer thinking process. Imagine the bast case and worst case of  chasing your dream. Compare it to the best and worst case of NOT chasing the dream. I imagined what life would be like if I stayed in the corporate world, and continued spending my life in airports and hotels. I would make lots of money, have a nice house, nice car, and take trips regularly. At the same time, I would be getting older, and having less and less time to eventually pursue the dream. Given that tomorrow is never promised, would I live to see an "Ideal time to do it"?

When I compared this to my best and worst case scenarios of chasing the dream, it was always the worst case scenario that motivated me. In all scenarios I knew the end game was the same... I will eventually end fighting for my last breaths, and reflecting on my life. No matter whether that is a hospital bed, or the middle of the ocean, my reality, my bottom line is that wealth is something you can't take with you. I believe that memories, you can take. I also believe having an abundance of memories, is better than an abundance of regret, when you reflect. Know your bottom line... what matters most to you, wealth, memories? Know which worst case scenario would leave you with the most regret. Being aware of these things will push you through much adversity.

In our next chapter, we will talk about the many resources we have used to help us pursue our dream, how we found them, and talk about others we met along the way.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Escaping the Jungle...: Living The Dream, The How To

Escaping the Jungle...: Living The Dream, The How To: So hands up if you've ever done something you didn't want to do... I'm not talking about eating spinach, or worse. I mean have y...

Living The Dream, The How To

So hands up if you've ever done something you didn't want to do... I'm not talking about eating spinach, or worse. I mean have you ever worked a job that made you miserable? Have you ever gone home thinking "There's got to be more to life!".

I don't have the technology to see if all 12 readers raised their hands, but I suspect few could honestly say they have thoroughly enjoyed every job they have ever done. It is a fact of life, that no matter what you do, it is never always perfect. Some find careers that are rich and meaningful, and help make the world a better place, and I'm sure they are satisfied. I suspect that even those lucky souls have dreams? What about those who finish high school and have no idea what they want to be. Before they know it they have a 'good job' down at the local factory, or steel mill. In the blink of an eye they've turned 40, raised kids, and are left wondering now what?

Myself, I was a sales manager, making my way in a lucrative career, and doing pretty good. I held the title of Sales Manager, Canada, and Eastern US. I enjoyed significant success and kept getting rewarded with more challenge, more responsibility. Before I knew it, I was spending more time at airports, and less time with my teenage kids, and new wife. I started to reflect on what I call 'my moment of motivation' which I've used to inspire me throughout my life.

'My moment of motivation' was actually more than a moment. It was a time in my life, between high school and college, a break year, when I had landed a 'good job' as a labourer at a local auto parts manufacturer. I was instantly making really good money for a 19 year old of the time, and everyone thought I would settle into that life. Only, I was less than inspired by the grind of factory life. The heat, sweat, getting burnt consistently by welding splash. With each burn I would smile and say "I'm going back to college". It was 'my moment of motivation'. It has inspired me, throughout my life, to seek out what I desire, and pursue it. During all the hours I spent at airports, away from family, I would reflect on my moment of motivation, with a goal to getting to where I wanted to be. I wanted to see the world from more than a plane window, or hotel room... and I wanted to do it with family.

So next question is "what do YOU want from life?". It's not a question you have to answer to me. This, you need to answer to yourself. To your family. If they think you're crazy, it's PROBABLY a good thing. Any dream worth doing is usually considered crazy by some. If it is something that inspires you, makes your skin tingle when you think about it, you're probably onto something. If you think you may have found just the thing to make your life meaningful again, write it down on a piece of paper. Show it to that one person who matters most to you and see what they think. Did the person in the mirror feel the same way? Put the paper in your sock drawer and leave it there for a week, a month, a year, then look at it again. Does it still make your skin tingle? If so, you're almost definitely onto something.

So let's assume you've found it, and defined your dream. You know exactly what you want to do with your life, what is going to bring meaning. If the dream is to become a doctor, you are probably best off signing out of this blog and going to med school. But if you dream to take a break and go sailing, or RV'ing, backpacking, travelling or something similarly adventurous, I think our experience can shed some light on what you can expect. The biggest thing, FEAR!

Once you commit that you are going to leave your 'safe life' you will become VERY busy trying to convince yourself that the idea is crazy. Add to that, the fact that the world is full of people who think that the 'safe life' is a pretty good thing. Many of those people are parents, neighbors, co-workers, or bosses! People who care about you. They will work feverishly to convince you that you're about to lose your last marble. Consider how safe their life is, and how happy they are living it. Typically this is where you need to listen to two things; your heart, and your spouse(if applicable). If your heart tells you that your dream is (somewhat) realistic, and very important to you, and your spouse is onboard, tune the rest out. Thank them for their input , and offer that you will encourage them to be the first to say "I told you so" if things don't work out. My experience is that loved ones rarely want to jump on "I told you so".

Personally, I believe that failure only comes in not trying. To try, and not reach the goal, still leaves you closer to the goal. It is important thing is to remember that those who express doubt are people who don't get that 'tingly' feeling when they think about your dream. Also, they are usually people who have never mustered the courage to go outside the safe zone of their lives.

So once you make the decision, and silence the critics, I would love to tell you that it will be smooth sailing from there... but lying is wrong. You will have lingering doubts about things like selling the house, quitting a job, or not seeing your family and friends as often. There are logical responses to every concern that will pop up, but the most important thing to realize is that these emotions are natural. They are like gag reflexes... they happen naturally, as a means of yourself, protecting self from self. Living the safe life is what we are conditioned to do, from a very early age. Typically they doubts will creep up on you in the middle of the night, and wake you in a cold sweat. The thought will scream into your head "what am I doing!?". This is natural, and should be expected. You should address these doubts like a negotiation with yourself. While I encourage you to not do something completely irresponsible, many consider that not living your life is also irresponsible. So listen to the concerns. Write them down if needed. Park that note in a drawer, and go back to sleep, with the promise that you'll review the concerns later, with a clearer head. At that later point, take a long, hard, rational look at each concern that has come up. Consider whether it's a deal breaker. If the concern is selling the house, ask yourself if you should rent it out instead. Ask if you can buy another house if things don't work out? Work through each concern with a goal to establishing how important it is, and how insurmountable it is. Always be honest with yourself, but remember that not ALL of yourself is going to be honest with you. There will always be a part of you that simply wants to stay in the safe zone. Try to envision the 'worst case scenario' and compare it the regret that will come from not having tried. Which is worse?

The more you work through each objection, the more you will become more convinced that the dream is meant to be, and the more it will strengthen your resolve. As you build your plan, your concerns will continue to seem less significant, less frightening. The more you solidify the plan, the more you will gain comfort that things will be alright. So, I can't stree enough, BUILD A SOLID PLAN.

Next week, and beyond, we will share our insights on the following:

1) Make a plan!
2) Make a backup plan
3) Plan an Out and/or 'Whats Next"
4) Set a Specific Target

It is our goal to inspire people to stop existing and start LIVING. So please borrow what you find useful and apply it to your life, to make your dream happen. If you are one of the many who are currently living the dream, or have done so, we welcome your input. We want to share as many stories as possible, to inspire those who are still simply dreaming.

Shawn & Leanne

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Last you heard from us, we had completed our sailing adventure, finished our RV journey through Mexico, and we had bought a building in Roatan, one of the Honduras Bay Islands. We were doing renovations and hoped to open as the Jungle Reef Inn. I'm happy to report that the Jungle Reef Inn received her first guests on Christmas Eve, 2016. Since then, we have hosted a steady stream of visitors from 13 countries around the world, and have enjoyed steady occupancy in our 5 renovated Treehouse style rooms.

In May 2017 we returned back to Canada, and visited with family, before heading west to BC, in order to help operate a campground for the summer. At the time of writing, I am actually considering getting a... gulp, 'REAL JOB' again. While living the dream inspired us in ways we could never imagine, it has also drained our adventure fund. Another problem is that somewhere along the line, I discovered I wasn't ready to spend my days 'watching bananas grow', all day. Since we have the Jungle Reef Inn up and running, with a good manager in place, it affords us options.

Fear not, we do have a plan for what's next, once I outgrow this stage of responsibleness. We also have a few options, if the 'growing up thing isn't quite for us.

Since we started our journey, we have had many moments where our emotions got the best of us. We tried to take nothing for granted, and often reflected on how lucky we were to realize such adventures before we even turned 50. We witnessed countless friends our age and younger, who met with tragedies such as cancer, or accidents, losing their lives. On each occasion our resolve strengthened, to use our experience to inspire others to stop making excuses, and start living.

So starting November 13 we are going to start publishing weekly articles, updating you on our progress, sharing stories of others who have pursued theirs, or offering insight, and advice on how to start pursuing your own dream.

While I don't want to share everything now, I want to leave you with one thought... Since we sold everything, and went sailing, rv'ing, and living in the Caribbean, the thing we hear again and again is "I wish I could do what you're doing". We have heard some good explanations on why they can't do it... and a lot of lame ones. If you are that person, who has a dream, and no GOOD reason why you can't pursue it... either you are pursuing it, or you have been captured by fear!

FEAR is the single hardest obstacle to overcome when you decide to sell everything, abandon all that you know, and head out on the adventure of the unknown. Fear will haunt you, and inspire you to conjure up countless excuses. But it's imaginary. Knowing that will help! Join us next week for more on how to dream, and live.