"You guys always look so happy in your pictures," said our friend, flicking through the 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 and definitely due for some change.
We wrote that three years ago.
Even with loads of "good" coming our way back in 2014, we recognized that we needed to get back in sync with our optimal flow. We needed to revisit why we live this No Vacation Required. And that's exactly what we did, and that's why we're here in 2017 at the beginning of a new chapter
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. Our uncommon way of measuring success is a critical component of our No Vacation Required life and it gives us the courage to step into the unknown – to take wise risks.
It's not always comfortable to live with that contrarian mindset. Society expertly conditions you to want more money, more connections, less uncertainty, etc.
The truth is that uncertainty, discomfort, and some shitty realities are a regular part of life and work. But, again, we're conditioned to avoid that reality in the interest of becoming reactive rather than proactive. We're conditioned to believe that life is mean to be bright and shiny and ignore the truth until facing it becomes absolutely necessary – the divorce, the lost job, the major illness.
We refuse to live that way.
So, currently, we're up here at our place in the mountains, enjoying nature and pondering/plotting this thrilling new life-chapter that we barely have a foot in.
Here are a three things we know about working through uncertainty. We hope they help to inspire you in moving closer to the life or career shift you might be pondering.
1. Accept the reality of situations.
One of our chief ah-ha moments in 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?
What did we do? Late in 2014 we took a month off to jump start our movement toward a new chapter. 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 for a month. The reality of our situation demanded it.
2. Practice facing the unknown
Deciding to cease our small business for a month+ was a scary decision. Actually, the first week 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 steps we could take in 2015.
Morning after morning, Caanan would say, "I can't believe how much side-work I'm getting done!"
It has paid off. We had a 2015 – and then 2016 – the involved steps that got us here to 2017 and an entirely new chapter.
3. 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.
So, yep, here we are in 2017. Facing all of that uncertainty and taking all of those steps – for three years – got us where we are today. So much has changed (we have a place in the mountains, we're working less, we travel differently, etc.), and there's more shifts to come.
Interestingly, but hopefully not surprisingly, leaning into this multi-year round of uncertainty has opened our eyes to things we didn't know we didn't know. So, while we won't be starting another new chapter anytime soon, change will have even more fluidity and momentum in our life going forward.
We're ready for it! Because the alternative – stagnation – is even more scary.
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