The past couple of months we have pondered how all this craziness, courage and unpredictability came about. From very stable beginnings in the burbs, steady careers, long term housing and reasonably conservative personalities, it was even hard for us to see this coming. Our lap of Aus was always going to happen sooner or later, but certainly not quitting our jobs and selling our house! As recently as News Years Day 2017 we were asked by the neighbours over a few drinks if we'd sell up to travel. The answer was an unequivocal, "no way!" So where did it come from? After digging deep, we have come up with 2 simple things that we believe have truly changed us and have the potential to change anyone willing to give them a shot...
A list... pen it, check it, change it
In January 2016, somewhere along the Hay Plain whilst travelling between Tassie and Coffs Harbour, we set about writing our Fiftyby50 list. A list of fifty things that we wanted to achieve by the time we both turn 50 and before our 3 children are at an age where they no longer want to hang out with mum & dad. Our list has some of the most random things on it. It's personal to us and reflects the point at which we are at in our lives.
In just 12 months we ticked off 11 items and tweaked several others; but little did we realise during that first 12 months as we ticked off those items that our list was changing us in more ways than just seeing us kick goals. More than anything what our list did was sharpen our focus on what we really want during this phase in our lives and the importance of actively pursuing our goals and dreams outside of work, in order to live a fulfilling life. Our list gave us a better balance between working and living and made us think hard about what we would regret in years to come if we didn't spend the quality time to do the things we craved with our children whilst they are still young.
Our life experience has taught us that life is too short not to live it the way that makes you happy and that, well... life is just short. Seeing my beautiful Mum's 6 year battle with ovarian cancer which began shortly after her retirement and ended during my pregnancy with Noah taught us many lessons about life and love and making the most of both while you still can.
If you do nothing else today, start your list. It will change your life.
Our regular upbringing and lifestyle to date has somewhat conditioned us to follow the usual paths in life... get married, buy a house, have kids, make smart career moves. All of which have been wonderfully fulfilling. However as our Fiftyby50 put us more in touch with what we really wanted, we started to challenge the status quo and what the 'Great Australian Dream' actually means for us in our lives. We both spent 2015 & 2016 working exceptionally hard at our jobs and once again, whilst this was fulfilling, working at such a pace and staying happy and healthy was simply not sustainable. Generally speaking, selling your house in your late 30's/ early 40's, quitting your successful careers, running away in a caravan with your 3 children to see Australia and settling afterwards in a place 8 hours from your former home wouldn't be considered a wise decision according to traditional trains of thought. But by challenging ourselves to think differently about everything in our life including career, finances, housing, education and parenting our ideas and ideals have changed. Our dream no longer consists of owning our own home in the burbs of Sydney. We've looked to friends who have made sea & tree changes over the past few years (the Yorks, Martins, Marshs, Jones') and friends who have sold up and hit the road to lap Aus (The Frankes - Australia Wide with Four Inside and The Woods - The Wandering Woodies) and we have been truly inspired by all of their journeys. We have realised that living in a capital city is not the be all and end all and that the world is only getting smaller, allowing us to keep contact with family and friends from pretty much anywhere, as we have managed to keep in contact with these friends.
Thinking differently has been incredibly liberating and for the first time in a long time we have reclaimed our own destiny. For us this life choice is up there with choosing one another as life partners and bringing our children into the world. Never before have we done something so unconventional but equally we've never been so sure that this is right for us.
So we have a very simple message that we want to share and that is to write your list, write it now, don't wait... it will change your life and to dare to think different about everything in life that you have ever been conditioned to think. Your life is yours for living the way you choose from now. Don't wait, be impatient about creating the life you want!
A number of weeks ago we were asked by a dear friend to catch up with a small group of lifelong mates as a farewell before we take off not only on the trip of a lifetime but before we depart our beloved Macarthur where we have both grown up. Days and dates were unclear at the time and so we picked the 1st April as the date that we would surely still be grounded. Forty-eight hours out from this gathering we felt like complete frauds. I couldn't help but think how appropriate it was to have our catch up on April Fools Day as our dream seemed nothing short of a complete joke... with no caravan or date set for its completion, no apparent buyer for our house and certainly no foreseeable departure date I was really starting to feel as though we had bitten off more than we could chew. If things didn't change soon, our plans would need a serious rethink.
Fast forward 24hours and things really started to fall into place. An investor came out of the woodwork to buy our house at the right price, a date was given for our caravan's completion and the icing on the cake was the purchase of an investment property on the north coast in the sleepy seaside suburb of Sandy Beach on the same day that we accepted an offer on our house. We thought we had it all... that was until we arrived at the Camden Valley Inn to catch up with our friends. Unbeknown to us our friends had rallied to give us a farewell that we will never forget! A gathering of some of our nearest, dearest and oldest friends. This was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for us and we were all truly touched to feel the blessings of having such wonderful lifelong friends. Friends, who despite living so close, we rarely see. Knowing this brings us comfort because we know that the time and distance between us doesn't mean a thing in the grand scheme of things. These people are our forever friends no matter when the last time we saw them was or no matter how far away we are.
Thank you Christie, Steve, Michelle and Kaydee and to everyone who came to join us! We are truly grateful for your friendship and it's having friends like you that mean we really do 'have it all'! Xx
Last night, 7 weeks out from our departure, we finished watching the Expedition Australia series The Big Lap. In one of the closing scenes Jen and Steve, who had just completed an 18month lap around Australia with their two young girls, were summing up the what and the why of their trip. Their level of personal satisfaction and achievement was at an all time humble high. But it was their reasoning and reckoning that resonated most with us.
They echoed the conversations that we have had in our own heads, between ourselves and with family, friends and complete strangers in the past few months since making this decision.
Steve rightly points out that humans spend a lot of time of finding reasons not to do things but the key is in finding ways to do things. In order for us to take this step we've really had to challenge the way we are conditioned to think and act.
Like Steve and Jen one of our key drivers was what will we regret more? Going or not going? In our old age we will no doubt only be left with regret if we don't take this chance by the horns and do this with our young family. Steve also points out that unlike those in retirement we are young and can always make more money. It's a chance worth taking.
So many people have said to us "You're so brave, I could never do that" just like Jen says people had said to her. The truth is we never thought we had this in us! (Keep an eye out for my next blog on where I think it did come from). As recent as New Years Day, just 28 days before making this decision, I had told our neighbours that there is no way we would sell our house and leave our jobs to travel and although we plan to lap we will make it quick and return to our life in Sydney. What were we thinking? Or should I say what were we not thinking?
We are often coached in our careers to step outside of our comfort zone but rarely apply this creative tool to our personal life. Our social conditioning means that we tend to apply the same work and housing conventions for our entire lives. Stepping outside of this has been ever so liberating and like Jen describes it has made us realise that we have so much more in us that we never thought was possible!
Do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this great DVD. We thoroughly enjoyed following this family on their big lap with the closing remarks being some of our most favourite.