The source of inspiration for this post comes from two places. The first is my own reflection on my life and what brought me to where I am today. When I was a distraught 18-year old I would have never in a million years thought I’d of volunteered in Vanuatu, backpacked South America, or run a successful location independent business for 8-years and I know that this is just the beginning of my extraordinary journey. In reflection, I realized that I went through a series of defining moments that brought me to today, just 37 days before I head out on a remarkable journey around the world for an indefinite period of time.
The first defining moment is when I went in my dad’s place (he had to have back surgery) on a cruise through the Caribbean where I met Miles. I came from a soul less Plano, TX where people were dull, lifeless, and only cared about what you wore, what you drove, and how much money was in your bank account. Miles was different. He radiated a contagious happiness that I had never before seen in my life. I couldn’t help but smile when I was around him. Miles decided that the path he was supposed to be on wasn’t what he wanted so he got his SCUBA teaching certification, packed his bags, and moved to the Caribbean to do what he loved, SCUBA diving. Miles planted a seed in me that day. I had never felt happiness like Miles radiated and I knew I wanted to do the same. But I didn’t know how.
The Caribbean changed me. I realized there was so much more out there in the world beyond Plano, TX and I was hungry for more. But I was stuck in a prison cell created by my parents to live a traditional life. One day when I was browsing the internet, daydreaming of those days in the Caribbean I stumbled across a travel blog and learned of around the world backpacking. Well, Hell. If he can do it, so can I… But I had medical bills to take care of, an apartment to pay for, a dog, and whole bunch of stuff to take care of. For a few years, I had to take care of myself and my medical needs. Those years, they fucking sucked. I hated life. I knew what I wanted.
Eventually, I had enough. Was I going to let my 20s be the worst years of my life when they were supposed to be the best? Isn’t there more to life than being miserable? I wasn’t going to let outside influences dictate my life and I took action on my defining moments and turned them into the fulfilling life I lead today.
The second source of inspiration for this post is all the people who tell me, “I would love to do what you do, but (enter excuse)” “I can’t leave my stable job” or my personal favorite, “You’re so lucky!” As if luck had anything to do with making an conscious choice. I would be in the same miserable life I was before if I didn’t give a big, “EFF YOU” to the traditional unfulfilling way of living and start living life on my terms. That “eef you?” It came with a price tag! A huge one. I sacrificed what relationship I had left with my parents, my boyfriend, my dogs, my apartment, and pretty much everything I owned. I never said it was going to be easy.
The difference from a miserable life and a remarkable one? Taking action when you have those defining moments. Not brushing them aside but saying, “enough’s, enough” and getting the hell out. Doing what it takes to get the job done in the process!
We all have defining moments and they are all different for each and every one of us. The difference between me and cubical nation? I listened, I learned, and I took action. It’s what you choose to do with those powerful defining moments that makes the difference between the mundane and the extraordinary. Here are 27 defining moments from some truly awesome people. They took these very moments and propelled themselves into the lives they lead today.
“Our lives a series of defining moments, strung together by passing time. Surrender fully to this moment, because it is not the moment itself that defines us, but how we choose to live in it.” – Jill Pendley
“I realized that I’d never be happy sitting at a desk, so I stopped. I quit. I left. Then I started a simple experiment: how can I live without money? Oh! Get rid of my stuff and don’t buy anything, easy! It’s so easy to not have a job if you realize that every single thing you own is created by an artificial desire. You’ve been conned into buying stuff by a corporation that owns you. Opt out, stop it, if you’re buying stuff at the mall you’re an idiot.”
“The reality is that it only takes a choice to be free. Make the right choice.”
Thrilling Heroics - Cody McKibben is busy living fearlessly as he continues to kick ass even after losing his girlfriend, his home, his business, and his um toenail.
“A lot of different things came together to push me to want to live in Asia for at least a year and travel abroad, but on a grander scale, my tipping point was probably just looking at the people around me in my job. Folks who’d been doing basically the same thing for 25 or 30 years, stagnating, making a living but beaten into complacency on the inside, not living life to the fullest, and not going anywhere. I just decided I didn’t want to settle for mediocre and wake up one day in 30 years to find myself in the same place, doing the same thing.”
“A little over five years ago, I realized my life was upside down — I was spending most of my time doing the things I liked least, and the least amount of my time on what was most important to me (my family and my writing). I couldn’t make it to my kids’ soccer games or be home in time to spend some time with my wife and kids. It was depressing. I decided to make some changes. A year later, I got to where I wanted to be — leading a simple, happy life.”
yTravel - Caz and Craig Makepeace have been living an unorthodox life by traveling the world togeather for over 10 years! They started yTravel just 6-months ago and have already become one of the top 5 independent travel sites. Their site documents their travel sacrifices, how to budget travel, and how to work abroad.
“I was involved in two destructive relationships. One with myself and because of that one with someone else. I was living in London on a working holiday visa. I had destroyed so many friendships with people I had once loved so much and my life was spiraling out of control. No matter what I did I couldn’t do it right and I couldn’t make things better. And then one day I woke up and knew something had to change or my life would have a very short expiration date. I made the decision that I would no longer allow my life to be like this. I realized that I had created my circumstances and that meant I could easily create a different one. So I packed up all I owned and moved to Dublin. I didn’t have any money, a job or any friends and I crawled into my hostel bed heavy with loneliness and sadness. I didn’t want to get up ever again. And then from nowhere something inside of me told me to get up, go outside and make a difference. So I did and I have never looked back. Since then my life has knowingly been of my design and it is full of joy and peace- I know that it is only me who can create this.”
Almost Fearless – Christine Gilbert quit her job as a manager for a Fortune 500 company and sold all of her belongings in 2008 to travel the world and work online as a freelance writer. She’s currently working on a documentary called The Wireless Generation.
“My moment came when I finally got my dream job, after years of working my way up, only to wonder, “now what?”. The sacrifices I had made in my 20s: long work hours, longer commutes, frequent business travel — had slowly become a lifestyle choice — and one that I wasn’t very happy with. Because I had reached my career goal, it felt like the perfect moment to put that part of my life aside and to try something different.”
The Middle Finger Project - Ash Ambirge is rejecting status quo and rebelling against mediocrity by living life on her own terms, making bold moves, and always pursuing adventure. Her post Are you your own Dream Zapper is a must read.
“You know, I’d say it’s a combination of two things: One–growing up having nothing. It instilled in me a great sense of determination, and while I don’t adhere to the standard definitions of success anymore, my determination has served me in that now, whenever I decide to do something, I move forward with confidence. I’ve done food stamps. I’ve been homeless. I’m actually an orphan. I’ve had many loved ones pass. And knowing I can still prosper through those conditions? Hell, I can do anything.”
Exile Lifestyle – Colin Wright went from living in L.A. in a furnished apartment to selling everything, having a break-up party with his girlfriend, and now only owning 51 items. He moves to a new country chosen by his readers every 4 months.
“There’s a lot of back story that went into reaching my ‘Eureka!’ moment, but the short version is that I realized the goal I’d been pursuing wasn’t what I really wanted out of life, and that unless I changed course I would reach my goal and be unhappy with it. After that realization, and working up the cajones to change my entire life around (it wasn’t easy, but the alternatives seemed much worse) I was able to move forward with as much tenacity and gusto as I had previously, just in a different direction.”
Traveling Savage - Keith Savage decided that he was asleep at the wheel of life and that something had to change quick. So he woke up and is now living his dream life by traveling the world, one month at a time.
“The dissatisfaction with my job built up over three years. Throughout that time I was always able to defuse the internal tension by focuses on the good aspects of the job. But I could feel my youth slipping away. Ultimately I switched positions within the company and it was a worse fit for me. One night at the bar, I decided I needed to face these niggling doubts and tunnel my way out. I simply followed the light of my passions.”
Ridiculously Extraordinary – Karol Gajda is on a mission to help 100 people achieve ridiculously extraordinary freedom in their lives. He has been known to write about ‘Why the American Dream is Dead‘ and ‘Being More Than a Number.’
“I’d always been entrepreneurial, but the tipping point came when one too many teachers told me “this will look good on your resume.” I decided right then, at age 19, I would never have a resume or live like a drone. And I’ve kept my promise to myself.”
The Art of Non-Conformity - Chris Guillebeau dreams big and is on a mission to visit all 192 countries in the world before he turns 35. His blog is all about unconventional living, setting your own rules, world domination, and making a lasting difference. (Oh and he’s been to 151/192 countries so far).
“I don’t think there was one defining moment for me, but I’d say the whole experience of living in West Africa for four years cumulatively helped to give me a broader worldview and led me to what I’m doing now. I’m very grateful for those times.”
Jet Set Citizen – John Bardos is a textbook example of the new rich (experiences not money), by living, working, and playing anywhere in the world he wants to. My favorite post on his site is, “Why I am so Successful.”
“The defining moment for me was when I left Canada to move to Japan. I was procrastinating with my life and not really accomplishing anything so I finally just bought a plane ticket and left for Japan one week later. I didn’t have a job or visa and I only had about $1000 to my name, but I went anyway. It was scary as hell arriving in a foreign country without speaking the language and not knowing what to do. However, everything fell into place. I had a friend teaching English in Japan but I only had his address. I just showed up one day and asked if I could stay there. I stayed with him for a week then was introduced to someone else and then someone else. I worked many illegal jobs before securing a legitimate teaching job and a work visa. Everything just fell into place. Two years later I got married and started my own English school.”
“In February 2010, my wife and I gave up everything to reinvent our lives again. Sure it is scary to give up security for the unknown, but life is short. The time to live is now.”
Uncornered Market - Audrey Scott and Daniel Noll are full-time travelers that left their corporate jobs in 2006 for a creative sabbatical and have yet to come home. Within their adventures they’ve found where lost baggage goes to die, food they’ll never eat again, and how to get outside their comfort zone.
“The realization one day that we could continue what we were doing (living/working in Prague) for many, many years without even noticing life slipping away. We enjoyed the security and comfort of our existence we had worked hard to build (we had arrived in Prague five years prior without jobs), but we wanted to see the world and didn’t want to wake up in 10 years and wonder, ‘what if?’”
Location Independent – Lea and Jonathan Woodward quit the rat race in 2007 after getting bored of the mundane and wondering if there was more to life. They’ve become the resident experts in location independence and have created a plethora of products to help others in their journey.
“I’m not sure there was one, single, defining moment – it was more a combination and sequence of events that ultimately resulted in us making the big leap to become location independent and nomadic. It started with my Mum dying, then travelling around Australia and New Zealand for 3 months on sabbatical (getting married in Sydney along the way), quitting my job on the first day back after my sabbatical, then a complete career change and moving out of the city (of London). Those were just some of the events which laid the basic foundations for the major change of location independence! And then along the way, there continues to be a variety of defining moments which ultimately influence where we’re going and what our future plans actually become.”
Illuminated Mind - Jonathan Mead, like me, has a very hard time doing things he doesn’t want to do. He works hard to get paid to be himself by aligning his heart and mind and by reclaiming his dreams. Be sure to download his free ebook, “The Zero Hour Workweek.”
“I’m not sure if there was one defining moment. There have been a lot of experiences I’ve had the culminated into me choosing to lead the life I live. But probably one of the biggest was deciding that I was going to create a business from a blog and quit my day job. That took a lot of guts for me, and I’m glad I did it.”
Ivan Campuzano - In 2007 Ivan decided to quit consulting with his family, friends, and society on what type of life he needed to live. Then he packed his bags and went out to explore the world. He writes on How to be a kid again, finding inner peace, and overcoming fear.
“One of the main turning points for me was when I studied Economics in the Czech Republic. Being away from home and my normal environment allowed me to realize many things about myself and the world. When I came back to the states, I realized that my main responsibility was to myself and my happiness. That I had the power to decide how I wanted to live, and not just follow a predetermined road map. I decided that I would unlearn everything society gave me. If it was not my experience, I would only accept it hypothetically. I then began to treat life as one huge learning experiment, an adventure.”
The Life Thing - Jonny Gibaud quit his well paid project management job to pursue a life of adventure. You can get a peek into what kind of a life Jonny has by checking out what a day or month is like.
“I was working as a Project Manager for a Swiss engineering company called Sulzer. The pay was great, good travel and an interesting vocation…I had a good life. Then a very close family member died and I remembered a favourite phrase of mine, “To have the great, you have to give up the good”. I wanted a great life and so that is what I did, I gave up the good and took a gamble on the great. I quit my job, set up a company and headed off around the world.”
Rowdy Kittens - Tammy Strobel began imagining what life would be like if we pursued dreams rather than stuff. So she began downsizing her life, simplifying, and even went through a divorce with her car.
“I wish I could say there was one tipping point. But it was a combination of things over a number of years that led me to this moment. At one point, I was in a job I hated, lived in a huge apartment overflowing with stuff, and didn’t have enough time to spend with the people I loved. Making changes in all of those areas took time and patience. With that being said, I’ve been inspired by a number of people to make these changes, including the Small House Society, Chris Guillebeau, and Dee Williams.”
“I’d hit it again because that shot was a defining moment, and when a defining moment comes along, you define the moment… or the moment defines you.” – Roy McAvoy
Everything Everywhere - Gary Arndt has been traveling around the world and blogging since March of 2007. He writes about having authentic experiences, provides daily inspiration, and his most memorable hostel stays.
“I can’t say I had any real defining moment. I just decided to travel and that was that.”
Free Pursuits - Corbett Barr began working for himself in 2006 after escaping the corporate world. He splits his time between San Francisco and the sunny beaches of Mexico. Corbett can help you work for yourself, build a high traffic blog, and live the life you want.
“The tipping point for me was when a job I had treated me completely like shit. I had put up with it for over four years, but one particular situation made me ask “what the hell am I doing with my life working in a place like this?”
Nomadic Matt - Matt Kepnes is a 20-something vagabond who went outside his comfort zone, quit his job, and left for a 1-year backpacking trip. However, that one year turned into four and he’s yet to settle down.
“When I went to Thailand, I met some backpackers who were traveling for months at a time. I got jealous so I came home, quit my job, and started backpacking. It was that, that lead to this.”
Location 180 - Sean Ogle spent two years crunching numbers as an analyst for an investment firm. It was the thought of being chained to a desk that made him quit his job and begin the pursuit of completing his bucket list.
“In February of 2009 I took a trip down to Rio for Carnival with one of my best friends. I was walking down Copacabana Beach on a Wednesday morning thinking that I should have the freedom to do this anytime I wanted. At the time, I couldn’t even go out and get my oil changed during a weekday if I wanted to. It was at that moment, I knew I needed to start working towards a change. I came back and within a month had started what would become Location 180.”
Stretchd - Nick Laborde is a crappy employee that is taking responsibility for his life by breaking up with the the American Dream. While currently being held hostage by that same American Dream he’s working to transform his life.
“The tipping point for me was when I realized that the life I was striving for and living was not my life at all. The American dream was not my dream. I don’t think there is any thing wrong with that lifestyle, it’s just not right for me. When I finally recognized that, my life started to shift in a better direction, my actions started to align with my true values.”
Man Vs. Debt - Adam Baker had enough of the consumer debt and decided to show where credit cards could shove their rewards! So he sold all of his possessions, unlocked his financial mutant powers, and took his family around the world.
“Without a doubt, the birth of our daughter Milligan. Bringing her home from the hospital enabled Courtney and me – for the first time – to really reflect on where our life was and where we wanted it to be.”
“It was in those first few days that we made the life-changing decision to pay off our consumer debt, sell everything we owned, and spend a year traveling abroad. The process of taking control of our finances – and our clutter – changed us down to the very core. Traveling abroad with Milligan blew open the flood gates.”
“6 Months after I finished business school I found a job. In a moment of desperation, even though I knew it wasn’t that job I wanted, I took it. Two weeks into it I was so miserable that I decided in the span of 24 hours to quit that job. Considering I had been unemployed for 6 months, it was a big risk. I’ll be eternally grateful for having the guts to walk away. Today I love my life and have a job that I look forward to every single day.”
Escaping the 9 to 5 - Maren Kate is an unemployable freedom fighter. She pursues a life worth living and refuses to settle for anything less. She fully believes that when you take life by the reigns, you become a new person.
“Getting done with college and going ‘crap, what’s next’ – I did a lot of soul searching, worked at some bars and realized that this was not what I wanted with my life. I wanted 100% freedom, or as close as I could get so I chose entrepreneurship.”
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck
Raam Dev - Raam quit his job and sold all of his possessions in his transition to a minimalist, nomadic lifestyle. Without any travel experience he spent 6-months living like a nomad and traveling through three countries, on a total budget of $3,000.
“I was sitting at my desk in an office building with a good view of the Boston skyline when a bird flew past my window. It flew back and forth as if trying to get my attention before soaring off into the horizon. I stopped working for a moment and watched. It was so free, so filled with potential to explore.”
“It was then that I felt something inside me breathing its last breath. All my longing for adventure and exploration, all my passion for nomadic travel and discovery, it was all ready to give up hope. Suddenly the thought of living the rest of my life unfulfilled scared me to death. Doing nothing became more scary than risking everything. That evening I wrote an email to my boss telling him I needed to talk about my employment.”
Twenty-Something Travel - Steph has never been an enthusiast of working 9-5 for 40-years so she’s breaking out of that mold by going on an around the world backpacking trip. She recently quit her job and is writing a new love story in China.
“I think the tipping point for me was when I broke up with my boyfriend Junior year of college.We’d been together a very long time and I’d felt pretty limited in my choices. Breaking up gave me the freedom to go study abroad, where I realized how much I loved traveling. I’ve been going ever since.”
I’ve now briefly introduced you 27 amazing people and their lifes defining moments. Now you can see what built your favorite bloggers into who they are today and how they are no different from you. The only difference is what they did with those moments!
What is your moment? And more importantly, what are you doing with it? Please join in the conversation and leave a comment below.
Next Monday these very same bloggers will help you overcome the fear of the unknown giving you the kick you need to make change! Live life to the fullest! Don’t want to miss it? Be sure to subscribe to e-mail updates!
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