Are You Living the Life You Always Wanted?

FlyAwayU | The Road Less Traveled
An incredible walk down one of life’s roads less traveled. White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona. Photo credit: Stan Reed.

Pause for a moment and think.

Are you living the life you always wanted?

If not, what is holding you back?

What are you waiting for?

We come up with so many reasons (i.e., excuses) to not follow our dreams.

Some of the most commonly heard: I need to pay off my debt, I need to wait until my children are adults, and I will have time after I retire.

A few years ago, a co-worker shared the story of his father’s dream of traveling the world after retirement. He worked tirelessly, paid off his house, provided for his children – all the while dreaming of travel. Then, he died suddenly a year before his planned retirement.

When my co-worker shared this story, he said he wanted to live his life differently. He didn’t want to wait. The irony was that he was waiting to live his dream even while he was telling the story.

FlyAwayU | Are You Living the Life You Always Wanted?

Life Has No Guarantees

If there is one thing, I have repeatedly learned it is that there are no guarantees.

Life is short.

No matter how much we plan, everything can change in an instant.

For example, I thought I had the perfect life plan. I just finished my bachelor’s degree, was accepted to a Ph.D. program and had a fantastic job. I had “made it.” I was living the life. Then, while driving home from a friend’s house after an excellent holiday dinner, I was hit head-on by a drunk driver.

I spent the next several years in physical therapy, learning to walk again, and rebuilding my physical and emotional strength.

My doctoral program and my dream job required massive amounts of hiking and strenuous activity, and I could barely walk around the block after more than two years of rehabilitation! Not my plan!

No doubt, you have similar examples within your own life, family, or community.

Guess what?

It is also true that good things can come right now!

IF, we grab the opportunity to create the experiences we want, to follow our dreams, and to start living our dream life now!

FlyAwayU | Life Feeling Cluttered? Quickly Dump These 6 Things Right Now

Change Your Thinking; Change Your Life

Did you just think – “But…”?

What if you replace that thinking with “Yes, and I will start by…”?

After years of rebuilding my life, with great ups and more tragic downs, I settled into my career, home ownership, and the life I loved.

Then last summer, the grant funding for my research ended. After many attempts to secure more funding, I had to accept the fact that I would be laid off in December.

For many reasons, it was the perfect time to transform this seemingly unfortunate event into a grand opportunity! Within a month of finding out unemployment was inevitable, we sold our house and hit the road with a vague plan of what’s next.

We still have debts to pay off and a teen to raise.

However, we leaped into living our dream of traveling, creating (I’m a writer, and my husband’s a photographer), and exploring the world with my son and our two dogs.

Here’s what the naysayers don’t tell you:

  1. Much of the world is cheaper to live in than the US so you can pay off your debts even faster while traveling.
  2. You don’t need all the “stuff” you think you do.
  3. Children/youth learn best when the content is relevant, engaging, and personally meaningful (and yes, you can make “math” all of those things).
  4. There are often many options for transferring your current skills into work that is not location specific.
  5. Additionally, some employers are increasingly open to allowing you to work completely or partially offsite.

You might be very surprised to realize your employer values your contribution enough that keeping you remotely onboard is preferable to hiring someone new. I have been successful at negotiating this arrangement with multiple employers in the past.

FlyAwayU | Are You Ready for Something Else?

Being Honest With Yourself is the First Step to Living Your Dream

The first step toward living your dream life is being honest with yourself about what you truly want.

It is often helpful to further define it by writing a story of you living your dream or by creating a vision board.

The goal is for you to see yourself living the life you want.

The more you can envision yourself in the place you are heading the more attainable it begins to feel.

Next, create a list of all the barriers (real and perceived) that come to mind.

Go through the list one by one and see which ones you can easily change from “I can’t because…” to “I can if…”

Another great motivator is finding people that are living the lifestyle you want.

There are blogs/vlogs about almost anything you can dream up. Most people are excited to share how they got to where they are – don’t hesitate to reach out to them. Spend as much time as possible with those that are encouraging you to live your dream life and minimize time with the naysayers.

As we were preparing to leave the US, we quickly learned who to share our plans with and who would generously express their disapproval. We also learned that we needed to save our energy to move forward, so we did not waste it trying to convince others we were making the right decision.

FlyAwayU | Sunrise in Hólmavík Iceland
We pulled into Hólmavík, Iceland in November, just in time to see the sunrise at about 11 am. The West Fjords are an amazing place to visit. Photo credit: Stan Reed

Living Your Dream is Life Changing

Although we are only six months into this new adventure, I can honestly say it has been one of the best decisions we ever made.

We have the luxury of time together as a family, we have met outstanding people that give me more hope for the future, and experienced some incredibly gorgeous places in the world.

We are continually learning, growing, and of course still have hard days when life hits us with sickness or tragedy.

However, at the end of our lives, we will know we spent our time living it fully, not just chasing money and possessions, or waiting for the “right time” which never came.

We hope that by our taking this vast leap we can inspire others to do the same.

What are you waiting for? The time is now!


FlyAwayU | Are You Living the Life You Always Wanted?

Robin Harwick

Robin Harwick, PhD is a writer, academic, and consultant dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through research and service. She spent years coaching youth and young adults on how to achieve their dreams. She decided it was time to “walk her talk” and recently embarked on a world schooling adventure with her teenage son, husband, and two dogs! Dr. Harwick is available for parenting and life transition support (via Skype), as a guest speaker (webinar or in-person), or to consult on the design and/or evaluation of youth development programs. She and her family are currently living in Mexico and are heading to Europe in the spring. You can follow their journey or contact her at www.lifeeducationtravel.org.

51 thoughts on “Are You Living the Life You Always Wanted?

  • 24/01/2018 at 02:20
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    I’ve been reading a lot of things that has put digital nomads in a bad light. This post is so refreshing to read and actually very inspiring for those who have been considering this lifestyle but held back because of those misconceptions. You raised some valid points especially in terms of the cost of living outside the US. I have learned of many expats who moved out to places that would enable them to live for less.

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    • 24/01/2018 at 19:31
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      Thank you for your kind words. I’m happy to hear my story is inspirational! The lifestyle isn’t a match for everyone but is definitely possible for those that want it!

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  • 24/01/2018 at 03:36
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    You are living my dream… I would love to sell my house and hit the road. Now I juts have to convince my other half to get on board 🙂

    I know that selling our home would mean enough money to travel for a year (and figure out what to do along the way), and still have enough money in the bank to put a down payment on another house, should we want to buy one (I know I personally wouldn’t…)

    While I wait for him to jump in, I’ll keep on trying to land some location independent work (in the few hours I have available, ans I’m homeschooling 3 kids).

    Thank you for your perspective. I’ll be sure to pass this post along.

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:02
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      Mariana, I hope the seeds you are planting with your other half take root! I am going to the Project World School Family Summit next week are you connected with them? It is really helpful to see other homeschooling parents living a similar lifestyle. Thank you for sharing the post!

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      • 08/02/2018 at 19:54
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        That sounds really interesting! Is the summit online or onsite? If the latter, where does I think take place?

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  • 24/01/2018 at 10:17
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    I’m definitely feeling more inspired after reading this! I too made a big life change a few years ago, and haven’t regretted it one bit. Wishing you all the best in your new chapter of life outside the US! Good luck!

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    • 24/01/2018 at 19:33
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      Thank you for your kind words. I’m happy to hear my story is inspirational! The lifestyle isn’t a match for everyone but is definitely possible for those that want it!

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:03
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      Thank you Lisa! I am glad my post was inspiring. Best of luck to you as well!

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  • 24/01/2018 at 12:17
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    It’s amazing how life can throw you curveballs and you just have to deal with them. I’m so glad you were able to overcome your trials and change your mindset. I agree that traveling helps us realize who we are and what we really value.

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:04
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      Thank you Suzanne. I agree 100%, when curve balls come our way we just have to figure out how to keep going. Inevitably, we learn a ton each time.

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  • 24/01/2018 at 13:03
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    First of all I am really sorry about you accident and I am glad you all right now! Second of all you’re so right! If you have a dream why wait? Ive always wanted to travel and I am doing what I love. A lot of people keep asking me why aren’t you choose a country where you wanna live with your husband, buy a house, start a family… because I am happy doing what I am doing. As you saying you never know what can happened in life, maybe you gonna work so much you dont even realised its too late for your dreams! Great post!

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:09
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      Ada, Isn’t it interesting how “buy a house, start a family” seems like the only legitimate life option to so many people? Lately, I have been thinking about how throughout human history a nomadic lifestyle was the “norm” for so many cultures/regions. I have embraced that as the norm for me and feel so much less pressure to settle down now 🙂

      Reply
  • 24/01/2018 at 14:24
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    Wow – what an encouraging message! I am always telling everyone to TAKE THE TRIP. I sometimes need to remind myself that “things” are not what this life is about but experiences and relationships.

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:12
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      Sami, One of the most surprising things so far is that I do not miss my “stuff”. We are getting ready to change locations and I am even giving away even more. It is so liberating to be free from stuff! Who knew?

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  • 24/01/2018 at 15:06
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    This is so motivating! I’m sure you will help so many people to realise their travel dreams!!

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:13
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      Frances, I do hope that is the case. If my story can inspire others then all the ups and downs will be worth it!

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  • 24/01/2018 at 15:21
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    That’s a good life lesson. Thank you for sharing your experience. Just a common knee injury for me was already a challenge so I cannot imagine what you went through. I feel like it’s hard to live the life we always dreamt of as we constantly evolve. It’s crucial to always reassess that it’s still what we want. But yeah, it’s not good to wait and postpone constantly. Not just because life can be shorter than we think, but also because places can change and even disappear…!

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:18
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      So true Eloise. I think our “dream life” can evolve as we grow and learn. It is definitely one of the exciting things about life!

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  • 24/01/2018 at 16:42
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    Thanks for the motivations! I don’t have a perfect life but I’m happy with everything that I got. There’s nothing wrong with following your dreams however at times dreams are impossible to achieve. So contentment is the key to have a happier life.

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:21
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      Joy, Agreed, contentment is powerful. I used to have a magnet on my frig that said: “Bloom where you are planted”. It was a good reminder to me that while I may have been working on a new plan, I could be content where I was at for the moment.

      Reply
  • 24/01/2018 at 17:14
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    A very motivational and inspirational post! Reading has helped me set some late personal goals for 2018

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:21
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      Rachel- That makes me so happy to hear! I wish you all the best in reaching your goals!

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  • 24/01/2018 at 21:36
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    This is a good read and I’m glad I came across it. I always admire people who sell their house/belongings to starts anew. It’s so brave of you specially since you have a teen. Thank you so much for sharing this experience.

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:23
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      Mayi- You are very welcome. Thank you for your kind words!

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  • 25/01/2018 at 00:05
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    I think it can be very scary for some people to embrace the unknown. Your article was very thorough and understanding of why some people are holding back from their dreams. Yet you also list some very plausible ways they can achieve this. Kudos!

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    • 25/01/2018 at 00:24
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      Thank you Julia! It was definitely scary at times but I am so glad we took the leap!

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  • 25/01/2018 at 03:25
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    After reading so many blogs about travels. It’s great to read this kind of writing very refreshing. thanks for sharing this.

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    • 25/01/2018 at 18:23
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      Thank you Cha! I appreciate that you took the time to let me know you enjoyed my writing!

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  • 25/01/2018 at 04:08
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    That was a sad story about the guy who saved all those years then passed away soon after retirement. Eh I don’t really have much to complain about in my current life since I just got married last year. However, I could always travel and experience more!

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    • 25/01/2018 at 18:24
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      Hanna- Congrats on your marriage. May you have a lifetime of happiness together!

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  • 25/01/2018 at 05:44
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    This is a positive and inspirational message. I am really very sorry for your accident but I admire you for sharing your experience. We live only once and we should do what we love. Thank you for this positive post.

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    • 25/01/2018 at 18:30
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      Mirela, I recently began sharing my story – previously I was hesitant to do so. When I chose to share, I had hopes that it would be inspirational to others! Thank you for letting me know that my hopes have come true!

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  • 25/01/2018 at 10:14
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    Indeed, life is very short and we shouldn’t postpone our dreams! We should live our lives the way we want to and not wait for that special moment to come, when the planets will align. I am trying to combine working and having a steady income with traveling the world as much as I can. And it worked out ok so far. I am able to take about 3 continuous weeks each year to travel to a far away country, without having to work or take my computer with me. The rest of the time I travel inside Europe, being close to the ones I love.

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    • 25/01/2018 at 18:33
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      Wow, Joanna! That sounds awesome. I haven’t managed to do any travel without a computer since they became part of my life. I aspire to that someday soon! I remember traveling in SE Asia before cell phones or the internet, it was truly magical to be completely away from everything and 100% in the moment!

      Reply
  • 25/01/2018 at 11:06
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    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I reflect on my 2017 and set goals for 2018 🙂 Thank you

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    • 25/01/2018 at 18:33
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      You are very welcome! Best of luck with your 2018 goals!!

      Reply
  • 25/01/2018 at 13:28
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    I’m definitely living my dream, Robin! This post was an exceptional read and I really hope you’re enjoying your life. Keep up the awesome work!

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    • 25/01/2018 at 18:35
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      Thank you, Agness! And congratulations on living your dream! I honestly think the world will be a better and kinder place when more people do what they love and love the life they live.

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  • 25/01/2018 at 15:47
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    Very motivational! Hope you are really enjoying your travels and your life!

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    • 25/01/2018 at 18:36
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      Thanks, Megan! We are indeed enjoying travel and life! We learn so much each day from the people we meet and experiences we have.

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  • 26/01/2018 at 03:34
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    So very true!! Our quality of life has improved immensely since leaving to travel full-time almost two years ago, and though we would undoubtedly have more money in the bank if we had stuck with the 9-5, we would have lost so much else. Love your first point about the naysayers–for us Americans, until you do longterm travel abroad (not a splashed out vacation, though we’ve been on our fair share of those too!), it’s hard to comprehend how much cheaper it can be to live on the move than at “home” with a mortgage and a “real life”, as some would say. At least since we’ve made less, we’ve also spent less (and often had more luxury, as well).

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  • 26/01/2018 at 03:59
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    I think for some people, living the dream is simply changing the life they had too. Sometimes change can bring about a whole new set of experiences – both good and bad – but I truly believe new experiences and widening your horizons create the dream life. But you are so right, so many of us are waiting for the perfect time to do something, while life continues on. I don’t think people ever regret travelling, for example. Career advancement, home life, buying property etc – that will all be there later in life, but travel can be become more difficult as you get older. Life is for living though – just because you haven’t travelled at 50 doesn’t mean you can’t! My Dad never started travelling until he was in his 50s and suddenly he and mum started going all over the world – and sadly now he has heart troubles and can’t fly internationally. Don’t ever wait to start living the dream!

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  • 26/01/2018 at 18:14
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    What an inspiring post! I agree that nothing in life is guaranteed so it’s better to not put things off until later. Sometimes it takes a major life event to recognize that (as with what happened to me also) and it can be a blessing in disguise. I’m happy to read your following your travel dream now. Life is really what you make it.

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  • 03/02/2018 at 19:49
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    Yes! Great stuff. I agree. We just packed up our house and two kids and have moved to Mexico because we wanted a different way of life and an adventure. Love that other people are doing it too. I get so tired hearing people complain and then change nothing.

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  • 06/02/2018 at 09:29
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    Loved this blog. And I so relate to it. I quit my job to travel. Took challenges and when I look back today of my life of 4 years after quitting my 8 years old career, I feel elated.

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    • 06/02/2018 at 15:59
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      It is so worth it to go after the life you want, not the one forced on you by society.

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  • 09/02/2018 at 04:00
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    I definitely agree, living your life as you’ve always wanted is a challenge and also kinda terrifying. When you establish that “no excuses” mindset, you really have nothing to blame if you fail. But that’s OK. Love your Iceland photos. I also went in November and so desperately want to go back.

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  • 10/02/2018 at 07:36
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    Oh the number of times I have had this discussion with people, it’s not even funny! I have hardly come across enough people who answer ‘yes’ to this question and sometimes, the reasons, or the ‘excuses’ for not being able to do it are not even reasonable! I know it might be easier said than done in some cases, and people do have commitments that they need to take care of but a lot of people just accept that as the reality of life and give up trying to work towards achieving their dreams. That’s the biggest problem I have – people who give up and sit back and just continue to live, accepting that they’ll never get to live the life they have dreamed of. I love your post!

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    • 10/02/2018 at 19:13
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      Amen! I can’t agree with you more. There are so many people I meet that say, wow, it’s amazing you did that, I wish I could. And when I say, you can, they have so many excuses. It’s a sad way to live.

      Reply

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