"You guys always look so happy in your pictures," said our friend, flicking through the 2014 travel pics on our iPhone. "You're always having so much fun. I want your life."
Truth is, we are pretty much always having fun and making the best of a situation, so the evaluation makes sense. However, because we have the inside scoop, we look at our pictures and see a lot more than "happy" and "fun."
We see our fullest year to date. We see late night and early morning work sessions all around the world. We see a carefully crafted, packed lifestyle that was leading to some discomfort.
Despite the less rah-rah story behind those 2014 pictures, we've never been happier than over the past several years. But, even with loads of "good" coming our way, we recognized that we needed to get back in sync with our optimal flow.
It's confusing to explain why we'd want to switch things up when, by traditional measures, all was going supremely well. The explanation of that is peppered throughout this website because it's at the very core of what it means to have and enjoy the freedom-centric life that we do.
Bottom line: Success, to us, is not measured by income, or our client count, or destinations visited. We're *over* that kind of thinking. Alternatively, we measure success by how it feels to be us – as individuals and as a couple – in any given moment. We fully understand that our newfangled way of thinking is a critical component of living a No Vacation Required life. As an aside, it's also the reason why we're working on pumping out a Manifesto which answers (finally!) our most commonly fielded question: "How can I build my version of a No Vacation Required life?"
It's not always comfortable to live with that contrarian mindset. Society expertly conditions you to want more money, more connections, less uncertainty, etc.
Well, as Maximizers (thanks to fully stepping into what we're meant to be doing), we rock it when it comes to change. It's kind of our thing. We help our corporate clients work though it, we urge individuals to embrace it, and we know it's a foundational piece of our own NVR life.
The truth is that uncertainty, discomfort, and some shitty realities are a regular part of life. But, again, we're conditioned to bury that reality in the interest of becoming reactive rather than proactive. If that truth isn't bright and shiny, people become good at burying it until absolutely necessary – the divorce, the lost job, the major illness.
We refuse to live that way.
Here are a three things we know about working through uncertainty and discomfort. We'll use our own life as a case study.
Accept the reality of situations.
One of our chief ah-ha moments in late 2014 was facing the fact that we needed to s l o w down. Accepting the reality that too much of a good thing is really. not. good. can be difficult.
But wouldn't one more client be great?
What if we squeezed in two more countries this year?
How can we pass up this opportunity?
Yes, you too know this thinking very well, don't you?
Late in 2014 on Maui, having faced the reality of our spinning-top-of-a-year, we decided to not accept any more clients for our core consulting business (for the remainder of the year). Maui was to be all about focusing on our side-business travel obligation and on resting and rejuvenating in preparation for 2015.
Admitting the reality of our need to do that nearly gave us panic attacks, but it was imperative. Throughout 2014, we had promised to slow down the pace, but it didn't work. A lot of our business is driven by referrals. Our desire to not let clients down regularly trumped saying no. Because that form of delaying "facing the music" only got us deeper into discomfort, we had no other option but to draw a line in the sand.
We stopped accepting any client work. The reality of our situation demanded it.
Practice facing the unknown
At the time we made the decision to accept no client work, our time in Maui was almost over and we were about to head to South America. Deciding to cease our small business for a month+ was a scary decision. Actually, the first week of the decision didn't go so well. We were consumed by the fear that being "unavailable" was sending the wrong message.
In truth, it wasn't. Either way, it needed to happen. As we worked through the discomfort of not working, all of this space opened up for creativity and other facets of ourselves that had been on hold. We had the time to discuss and plan leaps that we could take in 2015. We even set the stage for a huge upgrade to how we'd do business.
Morning after morning, Caanan would say, "I can't believe how much side-work I'm getting done!"
It has paid off. We're having a 2015 that would have been impossible had we not switched things up.
Focus on the possibilities waiting on the other side
Sometimes you need to get out of your present reality in order to gain perspective. The problem is... that's not easy. When we're in the thick of our lives, it's difficult to see things any other way.
A practice we've taken to – as individuals and as a couple – is writing down what might be "waiting on the other side" if we make a change we're pondering. It's very helpful to get out of your current reality to forecast what might be over the hump if you simply take the plunge.
And you know what? Our experience says that our lists of what might be waiting are accurate 90% of the time.
Here we are, well into 2015. Our world is still packed (it always will be), but the fine-tuning we did has paid off big time. Our NVR lifestyle is humming along at an all new high.
I bet it won't surprise you, though, that we've recently (while in Berlin) challenged ourselves to raise the bar yet again. Our NVR life really is the good life. To keep it that way, we have to stay on top of things. Or we risk sinking back into old ways of living and measuring success. And nothing is worth going back there.