|Don’t hate me because I groped a panda.
This could happen to YOU.
I used to be extremely jealous of people who travelled.
Travelling was something I longed to do, but it never seemed to happen.
I did go to Africa once, but it was nine long years before I left the country again.
Someone else was always living a more interesting life, going to places I wanted to see and enjoying experiences I wanted to have.
My life changed when I realized travelling didn’t have to be something that “other” people did–if I really cared about it that much, it didn’t require a better job or more money or even more holiday time.
What I needed to do was realign my priorities.
Here’s what I did:
1) I got out of debt: This had to be the number one step for me. I couldn’t feel comfortable travelling if that meant I was digging myself into a deeper hole. In just a year and a half, I managed to pay off over $30,000 in debt, and I’m far from rich.
I did it by sacrificing some of the things I loved, avoiding things that triggered an urge to shop for stuff I didn’t need (such as catalogues and fashion magazines), putting every extra cent I had into paying off debt, and taking on extra work–a lot of extra work. But it was so worth it!
2) I sold stuff. Lots of stuff: During the years that I’d been unhappy at work and unhappy in my relationship, I’d engaged in too much retail therapy. I had paintings! I had pottery! I had jewellery, and clothes, and too many shoes. And how much of it did I really love, use or need? About 20 percent, if that. Selling my belongings online has helped pay for a lot of my trips, and there always seems to be more to sell.
3) I stopped waiting for other people: Early on, I took trips that I wasn’t really interested in because some friends were going. Someone to travel with! I found it challenging to find willing travel companions–there was always a lack of time off, a lack of money, or a significant other who didn’t want to be left behind. I wasn’t interested in travelling by myself, so I stayed home.
Finally, I booked a tour with a group of strangers, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Not only did I make awesome new friends and meet like-minded souls from across the globe, but in some ways it was easier than traveling with close friends. If someone irritates you on a tour, you don’t have to see each other again. A long-standing relationship is not at risk.
4) I prioritized: Almost everyone has expendable income–it’s just a matter of finding it. I don’t have a car, which is very annoying and inconvenient in a city where it’s winter at least six months of the year. My house is far from perfect. I no longer care if my clothes or shoes are “the latest thing.” I don’t own expensive animals or have expensive habits. I don’t have kids or a cell phone. I owned the same shitty computer for thirteen years. I don’t have a cabin. I still go out for lunches and dinners, but I much prefer a $10 bowl of noodles at the local Vietnamese place than a $100 steak anyways, so it doesn’t need to cost that much.
The majority of my money goes to two things: building my writing career and travelling. Those are my priorities, and finally my spending is aligned with them.
5) I quit my job: This one is a bonus step that has given me a lot more freedom and flexibility, but it’s certainly not for everyone. I was lucky enough to have a solid freelance career waiting for me (which I’d spent years building and maintaining, so lucky might not be the right word), and a spouse that was 100 percent supportive of me following my dream to become a full-time writer.
I had to give up the fancy title, the benefits, the workplace camaraderie, the perks, and the salary, but in the end, I gained a lot more. And I’m no longer limited to three weeks of holidays.
What are you jealous of? Could you realign your priorities to make it a bigger part of your life? Have you ever made big life changes to increase your happiness? I’d love to hear your story.
This is one of your finest posts, Holli. Full of solid advice and great insights. Well done!
Aw, thanks so much, Javier! I appreciate that. And for the record, you’re one of the people I used to be jealous of…”Argh! That guy’s been EVERYWHERE.”
Thanks for reading and commenting!
What a beautiful piece of sanity. The world would be a much happier place if more people took stock of their priorities, and then actually did something about making them happen. I think my baby boom generation grew up with this fantasy that we could “have it all”. The surprise punchline: even if you could afford “it all” financially, you can’t make more time. The truth is, you are what you do, not what you own.
Thanks for commenting, Silk, and welcome to my blog! It was great to meet you in Surrey.
I think that, for a lot of people, it’s easier to hate on others than to change our own lives. But jealousy can be a great indicator of what we really value. If we use it as a motivator, it can work for us.
Your generation isn’t the only one, sadly. I still think I should be able to churn out amazing books, have an awesome freelance career on the side, a spotless house, a killer body, and an incredible social life. Every time something falls by the wayside, I feel guilty.
It’s impossible to do it all or have it all…unless you can pay for a lot of help. Maybe then. 🙂
I loved your story of how you prioritized to reach the goals you longed after. I’ve done the same in the past, but there are a lot more things I’ve seen others do that I want to experience, a whole crop of new goals I want to reach. In fact, this story reminded me of an old post I made about envy/jealousy being a motivational tool. Green-Eyed Motivator
Thanks for giving fellow writers the challenge to try!
Thanks, Donelle. I appreciate the kind words. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having new goals–I’m always developing insane stretch goals for myself.
As long as you don’t beat yourself up over not achieving everything RIGHT NOW, it can be an awesome way to motivate yourself to the next level. Thanks for sharing your post, and welcome back!
My favorite post by far! I am happy that you are happy and I find inspiration in this post. Thank you for sharing these wise words!
Hoping to be on this same path!
Welcome to my blog, James! I’m beyond happy to learn that you read it. 🙂
Thanks so much for the kind words, and for sharing and commenting. I wish you and that adorable little boy of yours all the best. You deserve it!
Wow!! I am so proud of you, your insight, your willingness to sacrifice, and your accomplishments. Well done. May your future plans be blessed.
Thank you so much! You can’t imagine how much it means to me to see those words coming from a beloved teacher.
You’ve made my day, Mr. Forsberg. Thanks for being so kind to me when I was a wee one…not every teacher was so forgiving of my…uh…high-spirited nature. 🙂
I used to be jealous of people who were working jobs where they were genuinely happy. Then I quit my cubical farm job and started writing full-time. Ever since I never feel the little green monster creep up when I see that someone got a promotion or has started a wildly successful business. Instead, I feel happy for them. Jealousy always begins and ends with you, and as you point out, you always have the ability to change course. I’ve noticed quite a few writers in groups, forums, etc.like to sit around and play the jealousy game with different people in the industry who have met a lot of success. It’s a sad thing, really.
Thanks for commenting, Steven. I always enjoy hearing your perspective.
I’m a co-founder of a popular writers’ forum, and over the years, a few of our members achieved incredible levels of success. Sometimes it was difficult to face the fact that they were advancing while I was standing still, but I don’t know if this was jealousy or simple embarrassment on my part.
Now I realize that they never gave up, but pursued the goal of publishing with a single-mindedness, while I continually let myself get distracted or discouraged.
Once I realized it was my own fault I wasn’t published, I was able to take that power back. And that has been a beautiful thing.
I’m happy you escaped the cubicle forest!
Some good life advice you are giving here. It takes a lot of self-awareness and maturity to look critically at one’s life and make the changes that are required to bring fulfillment. And as you point out, “stuff” never fills the hole. Congratulations on finding your path and having the courage to follow it.
Thanks, Andrew! I appreciate the kind words and support. Meeting you and the others on the tour inspired me so much and convinced me that I am on the right path.
I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best things I ever could have done, booking that trip. It opened up so many new possibilities for me.
Thanks so much for reading, and for commenting. Always great to “see” you.
Hello, I’m a first time visitor. =)
I think I’m jealous of people who have a lot of free time just because that’s something I don’t have much of.
You’re very brave to quit your job. I’m glad the freelance thing is working out for you.
Welcome! Thanks for visiting and commenting. I hope you come back again.
I can certainly relate to your jealousy. I don’t have much free time either, but I often do that to myself by taking on too much.
Thanks for the kind words about quitting, but I really didn’t have a choice. If I’d stayed at that place, I probably would have had a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. It sounds dramatic, but I’m not really kidding. Two people had had heart attacks or heart attack-like symptoms in my office while at work.
You’re such an inspiration!!! I don’t have a lot of places I really want to visit–maybe take a cruise eventually and go back to L.A. and New York. I’ve done the overseas thing. But I love your idea of traveling with strangers–it is VERY hard to find someone who wants to travel to the exact same places you do.
Thanks, Stephanie. I envy you only having two more places on your list. I have at least a dozen, and often once I’ve been somewhere, I also want to go back. I’d love to go back to China and Zimbabwe and Curacao.
And you’re right…it’s extremely difficult. Once I hit 30, all my girlfriends only wanted to travel with their husbands, and my bf can’t get as much time off. So the tour group is the perfect solution for me.
Thanks for commenting!
Great post Holli!
I used to be jealous of other people for various reasons…It boiled down to my own insecurities. It took a while to overcome them (and that would be a blog post in itself – maybe I’ll work on that;0) but once I did I realized that I have it pretty good. I would love to have more free time but I try to make use of the free time I do have. It’s the little things I think that make me the happiest.
Thanks for commenting, Lisa. Whether it’s insecurity or dissatisfaction, I think jealousy can be an important tool to make our lives better–as we both did.
What’s free time? 😉