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Monday, 27 November 2017

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.

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