So there I was, sitting in Bangkok, Thailand feeling a little dejected. The biggest goal of my life, to visit every country in the world , seems so close – 194/197 countries, just 3 little countries to go, yet I keep hitting a brick wall in my quest for visas Saudi Arabia and Yemen, with the final party awaiting in Norway. It’s been getting me down over the last month or so, that I’m almost there, yet it still seems so far.
The frustration was real. So rather than mope around at home feeling sorry for myself, I threw myself into my gym in Bangkok , eating healthy, sleeping better. Planning little trips, northern Thailand, a trip to the beach. I flew my mum over, Hong Kong, Kanchanaburi , seeing Bangkok through her eyes. I caught myself on (is that an Irish expression?!), sat back, took a little time, had a little perspective. I realised that my belief had been waning, and once that goes, there’s nothing left. It all comes down to belief .
I realised I’ve come so far, and I’m so close and I will finish, sooner rather than later. I believe that, truly. I started to appreciate my journey and wonder how I ended up with the life I dreamed about, what got me out of my old world, into this exciting, free, travel lifestyle, making money online, having friends in every corner of the globe, with amazing trips to amazing places filling my calendar before I even know it.
So how did I get here? Was it luck? I don’t believe in luck, so I doubt that very much. Timing? Perhaps, that always helps, but it’s never about only about timing. The number 1 reason I’ve managed to succeed, financially, in blogging, in the online world, with my travels, everything, is that I honestly, deeply believed that I would. Now listen, I don’t mean I believed it in a ‘Share a motivational quote on Instagram then go back to your sh*tty job and repeat the cycle” kinda way. I mean I believed it with every sinew of my anatomy. I was willing to shed blood, sweat and tears to get to where I wanted to be. I’d risk it all.
If I spent my 20s chasing my dreams, my potential career in the city would be gone forever, the one as a kid I assumed I would have. That’s a big risk. So I did spend my 20s chasing my dreams, and my career never happened, I’m 32 now, and it likely never will, but it was all worth it because the dream I believed in is now in my hands, I wanted it so much that I made it happen. You can too but do you believe you can?
My story is pretty simple. I always wanted to be free, whatever that meant. Free from financial worries, free from a routine that society seems to deem necessary, free from a lurking shadow in a grey suit telling me my holiday hasn’t been approved but can I please work late tonight. Free from pension advice, free from struggling to save 10% of my salary for a rainy day, free from buying cars on finance, free from having to plan my honeymoon 2 years in advance because the flights are expensive. Free from worrying about funding my mum’s old age. Free to choose to live life how I wanted. New hobbies? Take a class. Dreamed of Christmas in Tokyo ? Off you go. I don’t need a $30, 000 watch, but I wanted to be able to live how I wanted to live. So how did I do it?
When I was teaching English in Northern Thailand for a year in 2007 for $650 a month, I made the choice to live a different life, to aim higher. My mum always supported mye emotionally, perhaps even indulged me a little too much, when I laid out my grandiose plans as a kid to start this business, or that business, dreaming of flying to New York for business meetings, holidays all over the world. From those early moments, I honestly believed I would reach that point. So every little choice I made, every time I was at a crossroads in my life, my goals were at the forefront of my mind. Was this choice bringing me closer to where I want to be? Yes? Do it. No? Change your plan.
Once I heard that blogging could inspire others to chase their dreams while make money at the same time, that was my focus. Within 1 year, it was my ‘job’. Posting content every day, staying up late, all with my goal in mind. I believed in my journey, nothing would stop me.
I had always wanted to visit every country in the world, ever since I was about 19 years old, but to be honest, I thought it would take me a whole lifetime. Then when I started this travel lifestyle in 2007, I remained broke all the way up to 2012. In those 5 years, I traveled to 49 countries, about a quarter of the world, but I only flew a handful of times. 1 or 2 flights per years, I simply didn’t have the money. As I worked out the blogging game in 2012, and the $50, 000 months started happening, my life obviously changed. Suddenly, I not only believed I could visit every country in the world, but I could do it soon. Within 5 years, figuring on 25 countries a year, 9/10 months constant travel per year. Amazing. So many adventures, so many things to see, but now I would be flying. A LOT. I suddenly found myself spending hours scouring the internet for flights, hating those wasted hours up late trying to find the best deal. It was actually my mum who put me onto momondo , telling me they were the only flight search engine that put together budget airlines, and mainstream airlines, different airports in cities etc, meaning you always got the cheapest flights. That was 2012, and since then it’s only momondo I’ve ever used. So much so in fact, that I randomly emailed them about a month ago just to tell them how awesome they were, and that I was grateful (I think it’s important to email/tweet good service as well as using emails and tweets to complain about bad service), and they got back to me. Now iI’m super proud to be a Brand Ambassador for them, how awesome is that?!
One of the reasons I’m so proud to be alligned with momondo, is that the team aims to encourage and empower everyone to travel. Their ‘open world’ ethos works around the belief that an open world starts with an open mind and travel opens our mind and in turn opens our world. I love it. When I reached out to them, and we chatted more, it was a perfect mix. So now we have some pretty cool things lined up in the future, so watch this space! Now I’m super happy to encourage others to use momondo when planning travel from the inspiration through to finding flights and hotels.
Now I’m here. I haven’t reached any end point yet, I have a long way to go. More financial freedom, family, dream house, take care of my loved ones, and of course travel, travel, travel. Everest? Space? Around the world in 80 days? Cycle across the states? My life will be a full one, because it’s my choice for it to be that way. Sure it’s scary, but I won’t accept anything else. How about you?
We all have opportunities present themselves to us, opportunities that most of us never even recognise, we just have to be open and say yes. Take a chance. But it’s scary so we say no to the mildest of things, and never think of them again. Back to the routine.
But that could have been your chance, if only you had said yes, who knows what would lead on from that. An another opportunity has passed. But there will be more, so don’t fret. Equally, these chances aren’t infinite, and every day we are a little older, it’s a little tougher, the opportunity cost to be reckless increases ever so much. So take the next chance, it’s the juiciest, the most likely to lead someone good.
People who succeed manage to break through that veil of fear, and take their opportunity when it comes. Sure, we miss them sometimes too, we all make mistakes but when you finally take your chance, you pick the ball up and run with it, and you don’t let go. You believe in your journey, and you know where you’re heading.
I’m not some self-styled self-help guru, nor am I selling you anything, I’m just a normal guy who lives a not-so-normal life. I know a lot of you want to do the same thing, and I hope I can help shine a little light on the right paths to take you there. One thing I know for sure is key, is that you have to believe what you want is attainable. I get emails every day from you guys, asking me if I think you too can do something similar to me, and the answer is yes, it’s always yes. It IS possible but it’s only possible if you, yourself, believe it.
Can you visit every country in the world? Absolutely. Can you become a popular blogger? Travel for free? Make money online? Be an entrepreneur? Become a millionaire online? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. But the crux of the issue is that if you’re asking me for validation, then perhaps you don’t truly believe it yourself.
Belief, though, is very different to entitlement. Don’t get those 2 mixed up. Gen Y are trying to blur that line but don’t be that guy or girl. None of us are entitled to anything, very least the ones of us who come from single parent families, welfare systems and social services. No one is going to gift us anything. Sitting home thinking “ I was meant for something bigger and better than this ” is rubbish. It does nothing, means nothing. Believing in your journey, believing you have the mental strength to get your head down, take the risks, grind out the hard yards when the people around you quit, believing that you’ll reach your targets because failure isn’t an option, knowing that a ‘risk’ isn’t really a risk when you know you’re going to achieve what you set out to do.
NOTE: I’m now an official Momondo brand ambassador, but all opinions are my own, for better or worse!