This trip has been the best thing I’ve ever done. There’s not a single thing I regret other than booking that one hotel in Varkala with the flourescent light, pink walls and cockroach. Oh, and eating that raw piece of tofu. And maybe the Downhill cycle tour that was really uphill.
But seriously, if you think it might be cool to do something similar then here are some ideas and tips to get you started on your very own journey.
What’s the worst that could happen if you followed your dream?
Think about it. You could die. But you could die tomorrow. Today infact. You could walk out the door and get hit by a bus. So try harder. Go on be creative.
Here’s some ideas to get you started:
- You get the poos / rabies / yellow fever / malaria.
- All your money gets stolen
- You find out you don’t like travelling and miss friends
- Your child(ren) turn feral, miss too much school, fail all their exams and become social misfits
- You can’t find work in the place of your dreams and end up begging on the streets.
Now mitigate those risks. That’s right. Here’s how…Pack some immodium. Don’t eat meat in India. Don’t pet dogs or stroke monkeys. Get your jabs. Take your pills. Buy travel insurance. Take travellers’ cheques and a spare credit card. Buy a return ticket. Get a skype account. Take noise cancelling headphones and some flashcards. Take a loan for a new bathroom (ahum) and set some of the money aside for emergencies (and do not spend on new clothes from Topshop).
Fact: The worst that can happen is that you stay and wonder what if? For the rest of your life.
What is it that you want exactly?
What are you looking for? What kind of a life do you want to be living? There’s no point thinking that you’ll move to Australia and suddenly be a different person, with no problems or issues to deal with other than what factor sun lotion to buy. You’ll be the same person with the same personality and the same problems just with a suntan.
I thought if I lived in India I’d become thin, beautiful and serene. I couldn’t even manage the thin. Manage those expectations.
The post-it exercise.
Buy some post-its. Or just steal some from work. Now write words on them for all the things you want in life. All the things you don’t like about your current life you’d like to change. (the 9-5, commute, more/less time for children, boyfriend…whatever). Now stick them on the wall opposite your bed. Create an inspiration board of all these words and pictures from magazines that represent what you’re looking for. (I stuck up pictures of pearly turreted chateau, infinity pools and beaches, maybe there was also the odd shoe).
The Christmas Round Robin exercise
It’s that time of year. Your mum is writing her Christmas round robin – the letter that makes you feel like such a disappointment because you’re not a lawyer and you didn’t marry an accountant. This year though it doesn’t make you cringe, Why? What does it say?
Mine says something like ‘Sarah is now living in Bali with John and Alula. She has just signed a three book deal and sold the film rights for ten million. In the Spring she’ll be flying to LA for the casting sessions. Alex Skarsgard is going to star in the adaptation being produced by Alan Ball. She also has a full time nanny.’ You can tell I have spent a long time honing this vision. Now you do the same. As Kevin Costner said, ‘If you build it, they will come.’
NB. update 2014: I have since sold 11 books and sold the film rights too (though for quite a lot less than ten million. I haven’t YET met Alex Skarsgard, but I have faith. We decided early on a nanny was a bad idea. But you can see that I built the vision and honestly, the reality was even better than the vision.
My next vision is that by the end of 2015 we will be living in a beautiful, sustainable small home in California in an awesome community. Alula will be in a fantastic school that she loves, John will be running really successful Green Design Camps, and I will be screenwriting and producing original TV series for major companies and that Hunting Lila will have just finished filming (with Alex Skarsgard). I’d also like a few more book deals… Are you listening universe???
The Fuck It Philosophy.
I talk a lot about this in my blog because the Fuck It philosophy was so fundamental in my own shift from thinking about it to actually doing it. Here’s why.
The human brain is great at creating worries. As soon as you solve one, another fatter worry appears in its place. For me my worries went like this:
If I give up my job will I ever get another one?
Will I lose all my friends?
What about a pension?
If we rent our house will it get trashed? (NB. The tenants did put up net curtains but they haven’t trashed it).
What if a monkey bites Lula and she gets rabies?
If I spend 24/7 with my husband and daughter for 8 months will I end up divorced and crazy?
I learnt to quiet these worries by following the Fuck It philosophy.
Whenever I had a worry I would just say Fuck It.
That’s it. Just Fuck it. It’s the best mantra there is. Who needs to do a ten day silent vipasana meditation retreat when you can just say Fuck It for much the same result?
There’s a great book that explains it better than I can be bothered to. Read it.
I am a rational person. Kind of. My ex work-husband couldn’t believe that for all my ruthless logic and ruthless unemotional practicality (I’m great at firing people), I am (not even secretly, but evangelically) a total believer in horoscopes and in the universe and its workings. I don’t make any life decisions before consulting Susan Miller of Astrologyzone fame. She is my Rasputin.
I believe if you are on the right path the universe lets you know and helps you on your way.
Witness: the day I decided to resign and started to worry about money and what I would do for some (having no skills whatsoever) I met a woman who happened to be a journalist. She insisted I should just write.
‘But I can’t just BE a writer.’ I said. I was thirty one and had never published anything.
‘Just do it,’ she said as though she couldn’t see what I was procrastinating about.
So I started the blog that very day and sent the link to her the day after and she sent it to the editors at the Guardian. On the third day I had been commissioned to write a feature. I was a writer.
Co-incidence? Maybe. But I like to think it was the universe. You disagree and roll your eyes? Well how about this then? Some time last summer I was swimming and trying to work out whether I could actually make money from writing and I thought to myself, Stephanie Meyer has made millions, if she can do it – Fuck it! So can I (nothing like the power of self- belief). After ten more lengths I had the kernel of an idea. Four months later I finished my first novel.
I wasn’t sure if it was any good though. And the moment I started to doubt myself the universe helped me out again, showing me I was on the right path. I got off my flight to Mumbai, the first leg of the journey and was staying with my sister in law. Staying with her also with an American girl. A young adult book reviewer, editor and writer. What are the odds? I think you’ll find they are slim. Thank you universe.
I spent three weeks in Goa with her. We even shared a bed (not like that). She edited my book and gave me such a boost when I was on the verge of giving up.
Every time I start to despair I would get another sign – an agent, an interview with Grazia, and then finally A 2 BOOK DEAL with a huge publisher. And suddenly I can live anywhere because I’m a WRITER. NB update. Writers earn next to nothing so actually can’t live just anywhere. But what is awesome is that I’m not working for the man. I’m free and I would never go back to working for anyone now.
Lessons to be learnt here:
- Self-belief takes you places.
- Find your passion – don’t just decide to become a speculator on the stock market because it will make you rich. I tried that and got bored after two days. It has to be something you love to do. Otherwise the universe will ignore you.
- Start telling the universe what you want. Every day say ‘I want to be a writer’ or ‘I want to be a yoga teacher,’ or ‘I want to live in Australia,’ or ‘I want to find something else to do that I love.’ I guarantee if you ask the question enough you’ll find the answer. You have to have your ears and eyes open though for when it comes.
- Read www.astrologyzone.com every month. Serious.
- If you’re still stuck on what you actually want to do try www.careershifters.org for help. They’re great. And they actually have proper tools to help you. Other than advising you to read your horoscope.
- Stop procrastinating or you’ll get nowhere. Take a step. Even a tiny one. Even the post-it exercise. Get the ball rolling and it won’t stop.
- Stop saying you are going to write a book one day and just do it. Books don’t write themselves.
Money, Money, Money
You can’t just say Fuck It on this one. Unfortunately. You’re going to need some. The universe does suck like that.
Ideas for money:
– Sell things like shoes and your husbands records. But don’t sell your body or your house. If you are lucky enough to own a house you could try leveraging against it if you can. But leverage only what you can afford to pay back each month.
– Rent your house. This needs to cover the mortgage and the bills.
– Start saving – don’t eat out so much, ebay old clothes, buy Lambrusco instead of Malbec. Ok don’t do that but don’t have that second pint in the pub. Take your own lunch to work. If you really want this trip you’ll save.
– Sell your record / shoe /stamp collection
– Take a mortgage holiday for 3-6 months (do this BEFORE you resign)
– Don’t resign – see if you can switch to contract work or whether you can work remotely for a few months.
– Figure out what skills you have. We’ve met people earning money whilst they travel, in the following ways: aerial art (trapeze), flame throwing, yoga teaching, shiatsu, massage, writing, teaching English, nannying, teaching in kindergarten, flyer distributing, dj-ing, designing, web building, marketing, clothes designing, chef-ing.
– If you have circus skills you’ll be well placed to live in Goa.
NB: Working and Visas. To tell or not to tell. People do work without visas in every country. But there are consequences – big ones. There were a LOT of people working in India without a visa to do so. But if you get caught you’re in trouble. In Bali they fine you $25,000US and chuck you out the country. Not worth it.
Ideas for making your stay cheaper.
Your biggest outlay is accommodation. Here are some ways of reducing that outlay:
– Stay in hostels
– House sitting
– Friends and Relatives, preferably ones you like who have swimming pools.
– If you stay longer it’s generally cheaper.
– WOOF – some organic farm thing. But you have to work. On a farm. Nuff said.
– If you go out of high season it’s even cheaper
– Rent a local’s house – it will be much cheaper than anything owned by an ex-pat or advertised on the internet. In Bali a local house would be 50% cheaper. Our pink house on the beach in Patnem cost £200 a month.
– Don’t book a long term stay from the UK. You will pay a lot more. Wait until you get to a place and decide you like it, then ask in the local shops and the taxi drivers if they know of any houses or rooms for rent.
Very cool websites