Back in 2008, when I was doing the corporate/editorial/9-5 thing and feeling adrift, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish. It wasn’t a long list, but it changed my life.
It went a little like:
- Write books
- Travel the world
I decided that these were going to be my priorities and I did what I needed to do to make them happen. First, I left my job and got my M.F.A. in fiction. It was liberating to focus only on writing, instead of trying to write around work and the headaches that followed me home.
I couldn’t stare at a computer screen all day and comfortably come home to write. People do (and props if you’re one of them), but I knew I’d make excuses not to and would never accomplish my first goal. Not to mention goal number two. It would take 30 years of earning seniority and saving before I could see the world, and though I’ve got nothing but respect for people who do it that way, I am not that patient.
Now I’m moving to Taiwan. I’ll be teaching ESL with plenty of time to write and travel, and I couldn’t be happier. In the past few months, I’ve had too many reminders that time is precious. My cousin–who was a year younger than me–suddenly passed away as I was packing for my TEFL course in Prague. As much as I wanted to be there for my family, what could I do? She was finishing her degree, had a boyfriend she probably would have married, and big dreams for the future.
I think of her when I need to make big decisions, and remember that there’s no time to waste in life. I’m not making excuses anymore. I will do exactly what I need to do to get where I want to be.
So many people have told me they’re jealous of my move. “I want to do that!” is the most common response, usually followed by a big, “but….”
If you want to do something–whether it’s writing, traveling, getting in shape, or learning a new language–you need to start in now. The longer you wait the less time you’ll have, and the more excuses you’ll make. I don’t have a family or a house or many attachments –I value my independence too much–so it’s easier for me to turn a 180, but it doesn’t matter if you have five kids and a mortgage. Take small steps. I can’t tell you how, but if you take your goal seriously, you’ll find a way to get there. Be a little selfish and stop waiting for the things you want to come your way. You will be happier.