People that hear or read my story are amazed about the ‘big lifestyle change’ I made. How awesome it is that I dared to cut off all my roots and leave my home to start searching for something else. How much they would love to have those guts and maybe even are a bit jealous of me.
Of course I feel immensely flattered when they say this. Who wouldn’t be right? But unfortunately I have to admit I am not that brave and my answer is always the same: it never started with making the decision to leave like that, it started with something much smaller and less scary. It wasn’t that I woke up one day and said to myself: let’s quit my job, sell my house in Amsterdam including most of my stuff and start travelling around Europe without any idea how, what and for how long. Sorry to admit but no, it didn’t go like that…
So how did I end up doing this? How did I end up changing my city-life into my current lifestyle? I will tell you my secret: by making a small decision to start with… Doesn’t sound that scary right? Everybody can do that.
My first small decision
It first started with the decision to listen to my feelings instead of my head. I am a MAJOR thinker, that means I can think, analyse and start worrying about everything and then re-think and analyse it over and over again. Summing up all pros and cons etc. etc. and somehow this makes it harder for me to make a decision in the end. I can always find another reason why I should or shouldn’t do something. I end up in a loophole without being able to break out. Unless I stop thinking and let it go. Just put it aside the thoughts, go do something else and look at it later. It will still be there anyway. Forcing myself to have some patience is another major challenge, but well.
After some time I will turn to the matter again and see what I feel about it. Does it feel good or not? And there you go: I can make a decision based on my feeling instead of my head. The good thing about this is that it will always be the right one for that moment! It takes a little bit of practise but it isn’t that hard to manage. All you need is some patience.
My second decision
The second decision was that I wanted a vacation. And I mean more than 2 weeks… I wanted a break from my work, my life in the city, just to pause for a bit and take a deep breath. At the moment I made that decision, I was convinced about the fact that I could keep my job (getting unpaid leave or something), rent out my apartment to cover the mortgage costs and that I would return after to continue it all again. That was my starting point. But along the way, this image changed due to facts that I didn’t have any influence on.
My company couldn’t give me unpaid leave but they did wanted to keep me. So I had a very big shot on getting my job back again after my vacation. It wasn’t what I hoped for, but well: I already took the decision to go and that felt so good, that I was willing to end my permanent contract (with their words in the back of my head, that they wanted me back). Ah, and we already had bought the van as well… I guess that helped also.
To quit was the first ‘bigger step’. After that, it was time to figure out what to do with the house. I lived together with my younger brother and the idea was to find someone who wanted to rent my room and during my absence, my brother would look after the house. But then his plans started to change and he was thinking of moving out. At that same moment, I heard a couple of stories about the real estate market in Amsterdam being perfect to sell your house. I owned the apartment together with my ex so in the future we had to sell it at one point. The idea started to grow to sell it before I would leave. When I would return, I would go and live together with Dimitris in the apartment he rented.
That is how the decision was made to sell my apartment. I had already arranged a ‘new home’ for when we would come back so it wasn’t the biggest and most scary decision. I sold my house very quickly and ended up with a nice amount of money for my savings account. An extra month of travelling was covered!
My third decision
Then the apartment ‘deal’ we had in mind with Dimitris house, ended up being not so good any more. He agreed with renting the apartment to someone else for only the months that we would be on our trip. But we had to pay 3 months rent as a safety deposit before we left. That was a lot of money AND we would be stuck to a date to return. We didn’t have a good feeling about this so we decided NOT to do it. I guess this was the one decision I found really hard to make. This was kind of the‘last string that was being cut. But well: I had practised already with quitting my job and selling my house, so it wasn’t that hard in the end.
The change was made
At the moment we left the Netherlands to start travelling around for the summer, I still had in mind that I would return, find a new place to stay, find a job (the same or a new one) and would continue my old lifestyle. But the ‘vacation’ changed my feelings. A new decision was made again: to find a different way of living because I didn’t want to go back...
Taking small steps and go with the flow
As you can see, I ended up making one decision after another and ended up where I am now. It all goes in small steps, one after another. Nobody can make all these changes with one big step, that isn’t how it goes. I still try to aim at what I want AT THIS POINT. Of course you can have some long term ideas, but cut them into little ones and take one step at the time. That will get you moving and as soon as you start moving, you will be picked up by the flow. All you need to do then is go with it and decide at some crossways if you feel like going left or right. Trying to swim upstream doesn’t work anyway so why wouldn’t you go with the flow?
Just remember: first you have to start moving by making a small decision, followed by a small step.