When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: „If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: „If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been „No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something (…)
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart (…)
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
[Steve Jobs], Founder and CEO of Apple
We already have eight months of our sabbatical behind us. After crossing the mid-point in Fiji we have felt the time accelerating on us everyday. In our travels we have met few people travelling like we do, for a longer period of time, and not a single family with children as yet. So the natural question is, why more people do not do that? It is not about the lack of willingness. I know quite a large number of people dreaming of escaping their daily grinds.
By the way, several months ago one of our readers, Marek, sent us a note of admiration, commenting that it is crazy what we are doing. Well, looking back we feel that rather the hectic life we left behind in Poland was crazy indeed. A wise man noticed long ago that it is not an extra money nor social and status symbol etc that people regret on their deathbeds. Quite often the most wished for thing is the inadequate time spent with the family, children, grand children or focusing on realizing one’s dreams. In essence, it is the regret of not focusing enough on what’s most meaningful in their lives. The paragraph quoted above from the famous commencement speech of late Steve Jobs, an extraordinary inventor and business leader, is an interesting analogy to that.
Back to the things anchoring us, the travel-dreamers, in our daily lives, one of them is definitely finance. It is an emotional topic. As a famous Polish journalist/thinker, Stefan “Kisiel” Kisielewski, once said “Money does not bring happiness, but everybody wants to test this truth themselves” . Here is a few counter arguments to that simple statement “I simply cannot afford this”.
Firstly, Poland is not the cheapest country to live in. There are many poorer countries where you can live for a fraction of daily budget necessary in Poland. Most of the people we met travelling for an extended time have been backpackers, i.e. usually poor students living from hand to mouth. It is hard to think of them as having the sufficient financial means to travel for so long. Therefore if you really desire to see the world and meet interesting people, you do not need a lot. It seems to me, the opposite mechanism is often at play with money, i.e. the more you have, the harder it is to leave it. The so-called alternative cost, i.e. “what could I earn in the meantime”, is too high. An affluent friend of mine delaying several times his retirement summed it up nicely: “I thought that if I had one day an X amount of money, it would be sufficient. Once I got there I felt it was still not enough. It is never enough.”
In my professional life I have met many people who would gladly swap their vacation days for extra money. Well, that is a matter of choice. We are not surprised though that in all “civilized” countries, without exceptions, there is social and economic crisis today. This includes New Zealand, which to many of us living far away, seems to be an oasis of prosperity and happiness. Again we subscribe to another great quote of Kisiel that, “it is not crisis, it is the result” of our consumer lifestyle.
We are happy to have already inspired one brave person to do a sabbatical. We hope for many others the deeds will soon follow the words and dreams. From our own experience a great help in the final sabbatical decision making was simply following our hearts, and not letting the fears and worries take over.
The ultimate reward is priceless. Living our own life!
“Anything is Possible”
Stefan “Kisiel” Kisielewski