“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
A Life Well Lived
A life well lived is one of no regrets. In the privileged west, we have choices. We are blessed with the free will to live deliberately. At least we were until COVID-19 came along. Hopefully, we will have that freedom again. Despite having choices, many people drift through their lives accepting their fate and not opening themselves up to opportunities available to them.
As many people do, we found ourselves stuck in the rat-race. Day in, day out. The days turned into weeks, the weeks into months and the months into years. Before we knew it, everything was one big blur (it’s true to say that a week of travel expands, while a week in an office fades into oblivion). We were living for our annual leave. When we finally did have time off, just as we began to relax, it was time to go back to work. We barely had enough time to unwind before returning to the grindstone.
The Best Years of your Life
To top it all off, people are at their physical peak throughout their working years. It’s all very well anticipating retirement, but realistically, none of us can predict what the future will bring. We spend money on stuff – clothes, cars, useless household goods that we really don’t need, but that temporarily brighten up dull days.
Many people look back on their retirement day and wish they had taken a different path. Maybe cycled round the world or volunteered with street kids in South America. For some, it may not be too late. Others may not have the energy, desire, resilience or health.
Fear and Security
There are two words to blame – FEAR and SECURITY. Fear is what stops people living a life of no regrets and doing what they truly desire – fear of the unknown, fear of failure. People also fear not having security, not having a home, a pension, a job and ‘stuff’. The perception of security and consequent need for security stops us in our tracks and holds us prisoners. It clips our wings and stops us from flying.
The Pressures of Society
Sometimes it is difficult not to conform. There are so many pressures placed on us by society. We have certainly spent more than our fair share of time stuck in jobs that we didn’t like. We got caught up in the web of modern life, going to work, coming home, watching TV, overeating and going to the pub at the weekend. A predictable, but safe and limiting way to live. In many countries it would be considered a luxurious and enviable lifestyle, and don’t get us wrong – it is.
A World of Opportunities
Many people are content living this way, and it can take a huge effort and change of perspective to take another path. However, there is an amazing world out there, full of exciting opportunities. We felt compelled to escape from the conventional life every few years and get out there and be part of it. In fact, for the last eight years (until we were stopped in our tracks by COVID-19) we have been living out of backpacks, travelling and housesitting full-time. Although for us it was an easy decision, many live their lives with niggling indecision, knowing that they want to take a risk, but being too scared to act on it.
Follow your Passion
Of course, (difficult as it is for us to imagine), travel is not on everyone’s agenda. However, whatever it is that excites you is the path that should follow. The passion is there for a reason. Intuition, instinct, call it what you will. For us that something was, and still is, travel. Even after all these years. We can still have a random conversation with another traveller about their backpacking trip to Chile or their incredible journey on the Silk Road and the excitement resurfaces.
A Life of Design
People often say to us, “you are so lucky, I wish I could do what you do”. We have given up explaining that it is nothing to do with luck and anyone can do it IF they really want to. Sure, there are sacrifices to be made, but if you want it enough, you can do it. Luck is something that happens by chance, rather than design. We only live one life (depending on your beliefs), and it is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that generally life is lived by design, rather than by luck.
Looking back, there are things we wish we had done differently, but the one thing we have no regrets about is travel. In retrospect, we would have started living the life of our dreams earlier, but life is about making mistakes, and consequently learning from them.
Unlike possessions, which come and go, memories stay with you forever, ultimately more precious than any object. Possessions are transitory, but experiences make us grow.
When you reflect on your life, you will regret the things you didn’t do, not the things you did. So if the thought of having an adventure puts fire in your belly, or even just butterflies, don’t delay! Make the dream a reality and live a life of no regrets!