Step 1: Ignore the naysayers, the Debbie Downers, the "realists" who just want to discourage you. Let their words brush over and past you as you sit sipping your bubbly, preparing for your epic life.
Step 2: Act on your whims. You feel like you want to fly to Thailand on your winter break? Start looking at flights. Have the urge to take salsa lessons at the local community center Tuesday nights? Go ahead and book a class. Research the things your heart is calling out for--you don't have to actually DO them, but there's no harm in looking (and you'll probably find that starting the process of researching will help you commit to making more definite plans).
Step 3: Jump off a cliff. Or out of a plane. Or simply try a wacky dish at the Vietnamese/Thai fusion place down the road. Doing something out of your comfort zone--no matter how crazy it seems to other people--will help get you on the spirit of taking risks, which is the key to living an unconventional life. Just make sure of you so jump off that cliff, you have some bungee cords (or really strong faith).
Step 4: Commit. Commit to this life that the naysayers will naysay at. Commit to yourself and your intrinsic ability to not only succeed in following your dreams, but THRIVE as you do so. Commit to the salsa classes, to the Thailand ticket, to the fun and, at times, hectic, life of living as an artist. You can and you are able to manifest the life you want. It's just up to you to decide.
Step 5: Live an exceptionally great life and make everyone jealous. They always say the best part of anything is the journey, and your unconventional life's journey will be full of the things that people write stories about (or songs, or movies...) Not only will you be having fun and feel fulfilled, but you'll be proud knowing that you chose to yang when people yinged, stood tall when others crumpled.
These five steps will change your life. Use the courage that's on your heart to follow them. You won't regret it. After all, you're reading this post for a reason, aren't you?
I was the girl who always encouraged others to find their motivation, until I lost mine.
'Go after your dreams,' I'd always tell my tolerant friends, who'd heard this spiel a thousand times. 'Follow your heart and don't be afraid to go after your passions.'
And that was all grand and well. But what happens when you lose touch with your goals, become unsure of what your heart wants, and generally lose the motivation to spend time on your passions because you don't know what they are anymore?
This is the question that writes dozens of best-selling books every year. People lose their momentum all the time, and they want to know how to get it back.
Let me tell you, it was disconcerting (read: horrifying) to me when I would get home from work every day and not have the energy to do the things I used to love (like writing my blog or novel, going to the gym, or planning out my life's goals). Where was that fire that was always in my heart? I fully understood now when they said that "adult life" would send you to the TV after a long day at work--because Netflix called my name every day when I came home from my new job, and I found myself continuously heeding its call.
'Something has to give,' I thought. 'I need my fire back.' So I tried looking for volunteer opportunities. But the more I looked, the less motivation I had. I would open a webpage and look around for a bit before simply clicking out. I tried planning another international vacation. I had 10 vacation days now, no more endless months to while away, but I could still have fun! I would start searching for places to go, but after a few halfhearted minutes, I would find myself on Buzzfeed taking quizzes about what dessert best matched my personality.
What was wrong with me?
Turns out, nothing. It's completely normal for people to lose motivation and drive at times throughout their lives. Especially after a change (mine was getting my first "grown-up job" and moving across the state), people can lose touch with themselves. It's scary and not fun, but it happens (which I discovered after finally working up the nerve to check out a bundle of books about motivation at the library).
So, how to re-kindle that fire in your soul?
I'm still working on it. It's only been a few days that I feel closer to my old self, where I feel the familiar excitement tingle through my fingers when I sit down to write, or feel the energy in my chest as I start truly planning out my goals for the future. But that's enough for me to know I'm on the right track. Getting your motivation back and re-discovering your passions will be a different process for everybody, but here's what helped me:
1.) Committing yourself to getting your drive back. I knew I was in a passion-less state of limbo, but the scary thing was, half the time I was numbly content with it. I really had to shake myself and think that while I might be "content" now, watching Netflix instead of writing, I wouldn't be happier in the future.
2.) Discover when you get your best work done. I am a morning person through and through. I can wake up, go to the gym, plan out my day, and feel that fiery energy I always contribute to myself in the first few hours of the day. However, after the 3 PM slump hits, I know it's over. I'll get home from work at 5:30, dragging my feet and fighting to stay awake. For a while I tried to fight this, but now I know to embrace it. I make sure to go to bed early in the week so I can wake up early and do the things I need to do, that make me happy and keep me motivated: gym, writing, goal-planning, etc. I've accepted that my mind works better at the start of the day. If you embrace your own biological clock, you may find it easier to stay motivated.
3.) Know that passions can change. What you wanted last year might be different now. Or what you liked even just last week may have lost its flair in this one. Don't force yourself to do something if you just aren't feeling it anymore. Understand and accept that you can change your mind, and instead of letting it get you down ('I don't like to do the things I used to anymore!') take some time to pause, reflect, and try out new things to discover what you like. Sometimes getting your motivation back is as simple as finding something new to motivate you.
I know motivation and passion are an ebb and flow, and some days they will be stronger than others. Sometimes you truly ARE tired, and some days the call of Netflix will win. And that's ok. No one is perfect. Know that taking a break or by feeling down for a little while does not make you a failure or any less motivated.
Even fires need to burn down sometimes in order to come back strong.
It's almost the new year, and you know what that means: it's time for resolutions!
Love them or hate them, it's hard to deny the energetic pull of a fresh start in the new year. So whether you're making a list of goals you're determined to check off this year, or you're just looking to have a smoother morning routine, here are some websites that can keep you on track this 2017.
For general life/goals motivation:
Lifehack - a wonderful, catch-all, motivational site with articles about health and wellness; career, money, and relationship advice; and lifestyle tips in general. A must-read.
Mindbodygreen - another site dedicated to all-around health, this simple interface is as pleasant to the eye as it is to the soul.
stickK - don't worry about sticking to your resolutions when you utilize this site! Created by Yale University, this site allows you to set a goal, sign a "Commitment Contract," and get support from others with similar aspirations. And bonus: it's free.
Letters of Note - a gathering of authentic letters, postcards, and memos by famous people that are meant to both inspire you and make you think.
Tiny Buddha - as the site says, it provides "simple wisdom for complex lives." A lovely place for some inspiration!
For healthy living tips:
Whole Living - a site that provides healthy recipes, workouts, and natural skin care tips.
100 Days of Real Food - mother and blogger Lisa Leake describes how she and her family went 100 days without any processed foods, and how much healthier they became as a result. This relatable site will give you tips to start your own "real food" journey (btw, cutting out processed foods was how I became super fit/healthy!).
DIY Natural - rediscover the simple joy of doing things yourself. Making things from scratch was has never been so fulfilling!
Prevention - America's favorite mini magazine has a website that's just as awesome (if not more so). The best part is, all the advice is super-attainable.
ToneItUp - master trainers Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott will kick your booty into tip-top shape with their healthy meal and fitness plans.
For travel advice:
Nomadic Matt - a fantastic site with advice from an experienced budget traveler. Nomadic Matt helped me more than any other resource when planning my 4.5 month adventure to Europe.
Lonely Planet - from the creators of the highly insightful guidebook series, this website can be a one-stop shop for all of your destination-related questions.
Fodor's - detailed travel info and thought-inducing blog posts make this site a must-visit when planning any trip.
Adventure Journal - this simple site will stoke your passion for adventure with it's beautiful photos and straightforward posts.
The Blonde Abroad - this award-winning blog is written by a young, solo female traveler. Her advice about solo travel is spot-on (and prepare to be inspired!).
Productivity helpers/ idea generators/ career advice:
Todoist - no, that's not a typo (we don't know where the 'l' went!). Todoist is a to-do list maker and task manager, and lets you access these resources from a multitude of different tech--from phones, to tablets, to Windows, to email.
Lumosity - brain need a break? Use this site to play fun games and quizzes all intent on refreshing and re-sharpening your mind. How's that for a productive lunch break?
Pocket - this awesome tool lets you capture info, content, links, and images from the web and store it in one place. Researching just got a whole lot easier.
To Get Unstuck - creator of the Renaissance Soul phenomenon (more info about that on the site), the late Margaret Lobenstine created an empire for the people who had more than one career passion in life. If this seems like you, this site is a must.
Prolific Living - "be in love or don't bother" is Farnoosh Brock's (owner and founder of this site) career advice. If you need motivation to change careers, feel stuck where you're at, or just need a pick-me-up, her site's a winner.
Use the advice on these sites to help you stick to your resolutions this year, or to keep on creating the life that you want.
Cheers to 2017!
Get out of the "it's all or nothing" mindset.
As much as people try to say it is, life is not black and white. It's all in shades of gray. You don't have to say, 'everything is hinging on this one opportunity' or that 'to be healthy, I need to cut out carbs, eat vegan, and not even look at another cookie again.'
Please don't do that. Health -- and usually life-- doesn't come in extremes. In fact, extremes are bad. Why do we always throw in the towel after something goes wrong? You eat one piece of chocolate and you might as well give up healthy eating. You mess up one interview question and you're a failure. STOP THIS NONSENSE.
You're not a failure if you mess up. You're not a failure if you "mess up" more than once. Life is all about balance. Moderation, give-and-take, these are all words for it. We just need to become more accepting of the fact that it's natural to go off the "plan" sometimes.
It's called being human.
So give yourself a break. It's not "all or nothing." You should go easier on yourself because you're an incredible human being with hopes and dreams and goals, and the only way to reach them is to let yourself off the hook. To be human. And that's not only the key to health, and success, but to happiness as well.
Cut out as many processed foods as you can.
Just do it. If you have weight to lose, you'll shave it off without really trying (trust me), but more importantly, you'll feel BETTER. You don't know how bad heavily processed foods like chips, cookies, granola bars, pastry products and fake meats make you feel until you get rid of them. It's like being born again. Becoming a new person. The energy and sheer HEALTH you'll feel are entirely worth giving up preservatives and excess sodium. And the best part about it is you won't crave those foods anymore. Seriously.
Give it a week. Just one week without any processed junk. Eat clean, whole foods like veggies, fruits, quality meats and dairy, and whole grains. And I guarantee you that after a week, you won't want to stop.
Focus on doing one important thing per day.
Got a goal you're working toward but are intimidated to start? Try breaking it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. Are you more of a "throw it all together at one time" kind of person? That's ok, just be sure that every day you throw it all together toward one specific goal.
Got a project for work on the horizon? Send emails out to the needed people in the morning so it won't be on your mind all day. Need to check your bank account but are dreading it? Make it your day's most important task and bite the bullet. The "most important thing" doesn't have to be something huge, it just has to be the thing that needs to be done before everything else, or to free up some mind space. Getting it done early helps you ease some stress as well as energize you (you've checked something off the list! You're on a roll!). And who doesn't want that?
Don't let other people's standards be your own.
It's good to set standards-- just let them be dictated by YOU. Every dang day we are bombarded by things that tell us how our lives "should" be: you SHOULD be eating this way, you SHOULD be getting this education, you SHOULD be working on a career, getting married, having kids, exercising moderately for 150 minutes a week, etc etc. When the media (and it really is predominantly the media) tells you that you have to have it all together when you're 23, or that you have to look a certain way to even think about being comfortable in your own skin, it's a huge problem.
Throw all the "advice" you've ever heard out the window. Throw it right out. YOU should do what's best for YOU, and what makes YOU feel good. People always tell you that funny guys are the best, but you secretly prefer your dates slightly boring?
That's ok! Your best friend does boot camp every other day and downs green smoothies like they're water, but you prefer yoga and the occasional Hershey kiss? Embrace it! Everyone is different, and most people don't truly realize that. What works for someone else doesn't mean it will work for YOU.
So toss out those damn standards that come from everywhere else. All you need is what feels right in your heart.
Really. Slooooow dowwwwn. After spending some time traveling, I realized that most cultures across the world aren't as fixated on work or "achieving" as Americans are. Instead, other countries value family, good food, and taking the time to enjoy life-- and work. Of course, it's a generalization that all of us Americans are success-oriented workaholics, but it's not without some truth. We have been trained by the media that life needs to be 'go-go-go' all the time: to achieve at all costs, that time is money, that if you relax you've fundamentally failed, that it's ok to push people down in order to get a leg up.
Well, forget all of that. Life is better when it's enjoyable. And it's hard to enjoy it when you've got your blinders on, focusing on the future and all the 'could-be's' and ignoring the now.
Take time to breathe. When you find yourself rushing, stop and ask why. Will it kill you to be a few minutes late? Probably not. I've learned this from experience, and I used to be the girl that absolutely HATED when people were late.
The more you learn to let things go, the better you'll become at it. And, even better, the less stressed you'll be as a result. Slowing down helps us stress less, and that is tantamount to our health.
And there you go! Take this advice to heart and you'll be living a healthier, happier existence in no time :)
Some endeavors seem impossible until you do them.
Before I packed up my life and moved to Europe for four months, I read every book and blog about how to do so--but the process was still mystifying for me. People seemed to just KNOW how to buy plane tickets, book hostels, and navigate the public transportation in foreign countries.
No matter how much I researched, no one was giving me their secret. They were the cool, untouchable adventurers that seemed to have their life perfectly together and never questioned how to do anything. They were awesome, for sure, but unreachable. They wrote things about going abroad but never mentioned exactly HOW they did it.
Well, I figured it out, and I'm going to tell you.
If you've ever wanted to pick up your life and fly overseas for a week, a month, a year, but are feeling overwhelmed about where to start, follow my process and emulate it.
What I did to successfully have a European adventure
1.) I decided that I wanted to go and dedicated myself to it. This is the first step for many reasons, one being that you can't go anywhere if your heart isn't in it. Flying to another country is a big step, but not an impossible one. Know that it will take a little bit of work organizing yourself to go abroad, but that it's not the hardest thing in the world. Comfort yourself with the fact that others have done it before you, and they'll do it after you. You can do this, if you truly want to.
2.) I researched like a fiend. I read all the travel blogs, books, magazines, and talked to anyone and everyone who had traveled before. Not only will researching give you much-needed info, but it will provide you inspiration to keep going after your dream.
3.) Look up how to fly abroad, where to find cheap flights, facts about your country/countries of choice, expat (that's "ex-patriot," what we call an American who has relocated overseas) diaries,the location of hostels (cheap, fun backpacker hotels scattered throughout the globe), the routes you want to take, and tips from people who have done something similar before. Make sure to research throughout the entire process. Because the more you know, the more confident you'll feel.
4.) I then bought my plane ticket. I created a price alert for flights going to Dublin, Ireland, around the dates I wanted to go. I used Expedia. When the flight came up I wanted (or really, said "screw it" and bought it because I was tired of waiting and the plane prices didn't drop all that much), I went to Aer Lingus's website to buy the ticket directly.
I found it easier dealing straight with the airline, because there were no third-party any things that I had to worry about. (Btw, Aer Lingus is a fantastic airline, and I will shamelessly plug them.) Once I had my ticket (which was round-trip), I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. Once you KNOW, for a fact, that you're going, you feel a sense of relieved freedom. All that's left is really just narrowing down your itinerary.
5.) I knew I was WWOOFing (working on an organic farm) in Ireland for a month, but I had looked at my budget beforehand (before I bought my plane ticket!) and decided to "backpack" around the country, seeing the sights, for two weeks as well. I decided on one week before my WWOOFing start date, and one week after it. From there, I knew I would then fly to Italy for three months tutoring a host family in English on Greenheart Travel's Homestay program, staying with the family the entire time. THEN I would fly back to Ireland and leave from Dublin to fly back to the US.
This is when I started loosely planning an itinerary that I would loosely stick to. I liked having the chance to be spontaneous and go places on a whim, so I only booked hostels the day of or the night before. I don't recommend this if you're staying in a popular place in the high season-- for example, I spent only one night in Dublin after I arrived, because the second day, a Friday night in early May, every hostel in the city was booked.
So I took a bus down to Cork City and commenced having a lovely two days there. I say plan a little bit (book your hostels and perhaps transportation and any tickets) ahead of time if it's the weekend or high season. But honestly, there's nothing wrong with deciding each morning what you want to do with the day and go from there. It gives you more freedom, perhaps a little more headache (stressing about finding a place, etc), but I found I liked spontaneous adventuring the best.
Apps can be a huge help when planning out your trek. I used JourneyPlanner for Ireland, Google Maps (a lifesaver, truly), HostelWorld (another lifesaver), and various Italian-language ones for Italy. If you have a need, there's probably an app for it. Even though my phone service was off (the expense of foreign service is killer!) I could use the apps on any wifi I came across.
6.) Once I sort-of knew what I was going to do, I fully prepared myself for going overseas. Meaning: I bought things I thought I'd need, like a money belt (not needed), a phone charger converted for Ireland and mainland Europe (highly needed), guidebooks, a giant backpack I named Ranger, and host family gifts.
I learned how to pack light. I told my bank I was going overseas and got a new credit card. I listened to Irish and Italian music and tried to contain my raging excitement.
And then the day came and I flew overseas, and the rest is history.
The thing is, you'll learn so much as you go. I prepared pretty well, but KNOWLEDGE pales in comparison to EXPERIENCE, at least with traveling. I learned plenty of things I'd never read in a book, like how to climb out a window if you're locked in a hostel bathroom; how to ask Italian people in a non-desperate way to use their cell phones to call your host family, as yours has no service and the wifi is nonexistent; and how to NEVER, EVER turn on your dating roaming overseas because just two minutes (two) will set you back $100 USD. Really.
Research all you can, prepare yourself, then strap in for the ride of your life. Going abroad broadened (ha) my mind so much. I truly feel like I've lived another lifetime and am having a Narnia-moment, coming back to my life.
My best piece of advice is TO DO IT. Go. Just go. You have the money. You have the determination. You have the deep-set lust for adventure. There is nothing stopping you other than your own mind.
Let me know if you have any questions or want any tips/more details. I'm happy to provide them! Everyone should experience what I did, so I want to help you do just that.
It changes your life.
Until next time, y'all!
Linda Carroll, a contributor to the fantastic healthy living site, mindbodygreen, wrote this inspirational article about the #1 best practice for turning your goals into a reality. Read on!
"Whether...to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts...from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one's being, a satisfaction of spirit...Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired." —Martha Graham
The practice of spirituality
Creating a spiritual life is something like writing a story. Ultimately, it is a mystery—one that will not unfold unless you go into the workroom and make an effort, however banal and humdrum it feels. In other words, you have to practice.
All spiritual traditions show you ways to do this, like attending services and participating in religious rituals. Some practices involve consistently performing a physical exercise, such as yoga and tai chi. Many people find great spiritual value in walking regularly, especially while using breath-control techniques.
The practice of mindfulness
Mindfulness is another example. When we learn to witness ourselves, we stand outside our feelings and thoughts and observe instead of judging, analyzing, or denying them. This practice allows us to become less attached to our dramas, less victimized by our moods, and more aware of what is driving us.
The practice of love
A committed relationship is another form of practice. Many of us think of love as something that should be effortless and constant, not something that requires serious work. The inevitable struggles and disappointments of relationships can help partners develop acceptance, honesty, flexibility, empathy, patience, and self-awareness. To do so, though, we must move off the path to some sort of abstract happiness and get on the one headed toward awakening.
Ironically, when we relinquish the requirement that our partner be the source of our well-being, the relationship can become a wellspring of sustenance and nourishment.
Life as a practice
Some philosophies suggest that life itself, like relationships, is a practice. Ordinary challenges—growing a garden, raising children, or working a job—can be invitations to soul-work. Our daily lives offer us constant opportunities to increase compassion. Many religions have designated days of the week and times of the year for fasting, praying, and reading scriptures. Muslims bow in prayer five times a day. The Balinese Hindus offer baskets filled with flowers and rice to their deities thrice daily, and the Benedictine nuns sing Gregorian chants.
Establish a schedule for your own practice—it doesn't have to be perfect or make you happy—but make it good enough to get you to show up and stay grounded. Mysticism causes us to soar; an ongoing practice keeps us rooted to the earth.
Becoming spiritually literate is about paying attention to what is in front of your eyes at each moment. Thinking about what was, or what could be, diminishes what is happening right now. If we do not pay attention to now, we may never recognize our true prayer or song, the connection to the spark we seek. When we pay attention, we may be surprised.
When her sons were 4 and 7 years old, Lily went to a spiritual retreat and made a recommitment to meditation. When she returned home, she carefully set up an altar in the corner of her bedroom. She found a perfect candle and a meditation cushion with Sanskrit phrases on it. Then she announced to the boys that she would be spending 30 minutes each day in her room meditating, during which they needed to be very quiet.
The day she began her practice, they stood outside her room, compliant and quiet. After about 10 minutes she heard a quiet buzzing, which began to increase decibel by decibel. She tried to ignore the sound, meditating with her special mantra, but the noise grew louder. Soon she could hear the boys hitting one another, then crying and yelling. In exasperation she jumped up, opened the door, and screamed at them, "You two better stop it right now. I mean, stop it, damn it! I am working on my spiritual practice!"
Her sons' faces fell at the sight of their raging mother, and Lily was struck by the absurdity of this scene. Her spiritual practice was hurting all three of them. What her true practice should be, she realized, was to use every event in the day as an opportunity for kindness and patience to emerge. Nowhere was this practice more important than with her children.
Spiritual ideas can be exciting to learn and talk about; so can fitness and learning Spanish. Practice is the bridge that takes us from thinking to becoming.
Thanks, Ms. Carroll, for the inspiration!
Sure, you record your memories through pictures and Facebook posts when traveling abroad, but what happens when you get the urge to record your deeper thoughts and feelings meant only for your eyes? What happens when you get frustrated with something (or someone) and need a safe place to vent? Where do you put all your ticket stubs, brochures, or fresh-picked four-leaf clovers?
That's where a travel journal comes in.
One of my best friends gifted me with a beautiful lined journal before I left for a 4.5 month journey abroad , and soon it and I became inseparable. I always said that I could lose all my clothes and all my belongings, but if I lost my pictures or myjournal, I would be ruined. That journal became my place to write down the little things I didn't want to forget, record my feelings of my day-to-day life, and paste in memories I didn't want to end up losing. I filled two journals' worth of info and memories from my adventures, and now they're some of my most cherished possessions.
I highly recommend keeping a travel journal as a place to store your memories when you're abroad. Here are some tips that helped me create the best journal possible:
1.) Always write down people and place names.
When you're abroad, you'll meet some really cool people, and go to some really cool places. You don't want to forget that you shared a great Guinness with Mallory and Tom at Killpatty's Bar in Killarney, or that the tour boat you took out to the Aran Islands was called Andromeda and that your gap-toothed captain's name was Jim. You may not think you will, but trust me, you'll forget names. Having them written down will make you super appreciative later when you reread your entries.
2.) Write down everything you're feeling.
There were times that I wrote down basically the same thing day after day--and that's ok. Vent until the thing that's bothering you either fades away or you deal with it. Explore the emotions that continuously pop up so you can address them. Some days you'll be overjoyed and write sickeningly sappy entries, and other days you'll get annoyed at something that's happened, or will get homesick, and your entries will be more critical.
When you go back and look over your journal later, it will be good for you to see that your time abroad was a full life experience, not just an adventure to be viewed through rose-colored glasses.
3.) Use your journal for a catch-all for all your tickets, flyers, and brochures.
You'll definitely want to bring them home, and you don't want them to get lost (or worse, you throw them out because you don't want to deal with them). In between my writing entries, I pasted in the things that I wanted to keep. I tried to keep them in chronological order--and I'm glad I did. Now I can look over my pages of Italian train tickets and relive the journey I took in my head. I also made little notes on some of them, such as who I was with or what we were doing at the time.
4.) Write as often as possible, with as many details as possible.
While I didn't write every day, I wish I had. The days that I wrote entries back to back really painted a full picture of what my life was like during that time. Also, the entries where I wrote more details are the ones I enjoy the most. Putting down your feelings, along with descriptions of the people and places around you make for the best entries.
It may seem tedious to do this (and it is, sometimes). But you WON'T regret it when you get home and can really relive your adventure for years to come.
5.) Take your journal EVERYWHERE, and keep it close.
I protected mine like it was a MacBook and never let it out of my sight. I brought it to Florence, Venice, Rome, Cinque Terre, the Aran Islands, multiple farms, on boats, in planes, and through rain and wind and sunshine. Even on day trips, I took it with me. It's great to have in transit, because you will have A LOT of downtime when traveling. Having your journal with you in lines and on trains and buses will give you something to do. I did most of my writing this way.
There are probably countless more tips out there about how to create a cherish-able travel journal, but these are the things that worked for me. If you can think of anything to add, let me know! Your journal will become something that you'll prize for years to come.
The best advice I ever took was to follow my heart.
You've heard this so many times, by now it probably goes in one ear and out the other. But take a moment to really consider it:
FOLLOW YOUR HEART.
Act on your deepest desires, wishes, and goals. Our society spends so much time on the problems of the head (should I do this? how does it benefit me? I've got bills to pay, I don't have time, I'll do it someday), that we rarely listen to what our hearts are telling us. How would our worlds be different if we actually spent more time doing what we ACTUALLY wanted to do?
It's a folly to say that you don't have time. If you want something bad enough, you will MAKE the time. The universe has a funny way of letting us get what we want, as long as we really want it. It's also ridiculous how we put aside what we truly desire out of life in exchange for things we think we SHOULD want, or things that we HAVE to do. We only have this one life, people! Do you really want to spend it doing what you think is required?
For years, I'd dreamed of going to Ireland. I don't know exactly what it is about that country that originally spiked my interest--the green landscape, the culture, the magic that permeates through even the pictures, perhaps-- but I decided my junior year of high school that I would go there. Time flew by, as it often does when you are focusing on other things besides your dreams, and I realized that the thing holding me back was fear.
I made excuses every summer for not going to Ireland: 'There's no one to go with me, I have to work and save up, I'll go when I graduate.' When college graduation neared, and I realized that there was still no one to go with me, and I would NEVER think I had enough money, I knew I was either going to be a dreamer or a doer. I was sick of making excuses, sick of denying myself the one thing I'd wanted to do for years. I bit the bullet and bought a plane ticket to Ireland, set a week after graduation.
It changed my life.
Once you make the decision to act on your heart's desires, you become braver. More confident. More willing to rely on yourself. And, of course, you get to experience the things you'd previously only dreamed about. Going to Ireland challenged me in the best way possible. It also solidified some of my other goals.
Trust me when I say that going after what you want will benefit you in ways you can't even imagine.
It's time to pack away those excuses, face the fear that's holding you back, and take the first step towards your dreams. That's all it takes-- just one step. Mine was buying the plane ticket. Yours could be emailing that contact, posting an Etsy ad, or signing up for a certification class.
Whatever you do, just do it.
You won't regret it.
Life got you down? Struggling to meet your goals or expectations? In need of a little motivation? Here are 39 great quotes from Popsugar's Wellness page to help get you through.
There are only so many things you can learn in a month. But whether you learn brain surgery or how to tie a shoe is directly proportional to the effort that you put in. The month I spent in Ireland volunteering on an organic farm (WWOOFing, as it's so aptly called) taught me things I never imaged I'd ever actually know.
And understand this: Making a home for yourself and working in a foreign country gives you more than just tangible knowledge-- it also teaches (at the risk of sounding cheesy) your heart and soul.
The things I never expected to learn:
1.) That hazelnuts grow on hazel trees. (For being an honors student, that sure wasn't my most brilliant deduction.)
2.) That you can create exceptionally good tomato sauce just from boiling crushed-up fresh tomatoes and basil.
3.) That Ireland has more cows than sheep-- and they're all fantastically friendly.
4.) That you should NEVER pick off the tops of tomato plants. Unless you want stunted, pathetic-looking vegetables, this is not a good idea, people.
5.) A "workday" could be anywhere between two and twelve hours. Farmers put the W in WORK (and all the rest of the letters, too).
6.) You will make the best friends of your life, and you will do so within one minute of meeting them. Travelers bond faster than most, it's the nature of who we are.
7.) Never underestimate the power of those friendships, and how deep they can become. Shoutout to my WWOOFing buddies--you know you're loved!
8.) Late-night soccer games effectively relax you more than sleep at the end of a long day. Still don't know how this is possible, but it is.
9.) Sheep are crazy-strong and don't particularly take to being hugged.
10.) That one should never wear Wellies (rain boots, natch) to the Sunday market. Unless one wants to be stared at like a particularly freakish-looking alien, of course.
11.) That it is surprisingly easy to live without a microwave. Or a dishwasher. Or a clothes dryer. And life was much simpler and pleasant for it.
12.) That there are cats out there who actually let you pick them up and pet them somewhere other than their heads (not like my cat, who will put claw-marks on your arm faster than you can say, 'I didn't mean it!')
13.) That Irish cookies--called biscuits-- are THE best-tasting things you can imagine. Pair some with a cup of black tea and you've just created your own little heaven.
14.) That contrary to popular belief, four-leaf clovers are hard to come by in Ireland. Yeah, let that put a downer on your day.
15.) That making bread is an art form, one that I may never actually be good at. I should have made a photo book called "The Battle of the Bread" that showed example after example of my gloriously failed attempts at baking. Ah well, maybe next time.
This list doesn't even begin to touch on the things I learned, about myself or about farm living, but these are some highlights. To have your own metaphysical WWOOFing experience, go to wwoof.net. Find a country you'd love to see, join that country's WWOOFing page, and prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime!
Kayla Maneen received her BFA in Creative Writing and minored in adventure and fun. After graduation, she worked on an organic farm in Ireland and taught English in Italy, and learned all there is to know about chasing sheep and eating long, leisurely meals with family. She is adamant about people living out their passions and reaching their highest potentials. Always follow that fire in your heart!