Let me first make one thing clear. This post in no way is intended to trivialize the global pandemic that has inordinately impacted the United States because of the ways our country has mishandled and ignored it. Here, we’re attempting to look down the road to sunnier days and consider how differently we might handle dream chasing options. While you plan, please stay home as much as possible, wear a mask, maintain social distancing and wash your hands!
How has the COVID-19 virus affected your life?
The answers to that question range from one extreme to the other. Many people have lost loved ones and friends and/or have spent weeks in the hospital before beating the disease. For some, their biggest complaint might be having to wear a mask when going shopping.
Here … for this article … we’re concentrating on how this disease (or others like it) could or should influence decisions you might have to make or how it could lead you to open yourself up to new possibilities.
Do not misunderstand this. Going all-in on chasing your dream will not guarantee safety from pandemics, economic slowdowns, supply chain interruptions, travel restrictions, etc. Indeed, times of uncertainty might make a drastic movie even more perilous … or might open new opportunities.
For Leah and me, this is our first summer not working at a park … not working anywhere, actually, except writing on my book and blogs … because we are not yet comfortable re-entering the “real” world.
What about you? Have you been able to continue working? Are you getting by all right financially? Are you able to utilize healthy safeguards? Are you happy?
OK, let’s be honest here. Life since March should not be used to gauge reality. I’m not asking if you want something better than the last several months … I’m asking if this pause in everyday life has made you reconsider if you want to return to what we might wishfully refer to as “normal life,” or has it set your thoughts to wandering?
Such a mindset – this questioning of whether you’re happy with your current situation – is what’s always been behind Dream Chasing 101. Check out the book here.
For quite a few people (an NPR article in May says about a third of Americans) the pandemic has put them in a position to work from home. And it seems many people like it and hope to be able to continue working from home.
But there are downsides for others. Jobs have been lost and may not come back. As the image of the workplace changes, ripple effects are guaranteed.
We do not know how this will play out, but it’s a great time to ask, “How do you want your story to develop?”
Is this a good time for you to consider another field, maybe something you really, really want to do? Maybe go back to school for a degree or a certificate? Maybe leave the office job and start making home deliveries? Maybe become an over-the-road trucker? Maybe compose music?
In our Dream Chasing books, and in many places on this site, Leah and I talk mainly about what we did. If you’re not familiar with our background, we retired early, sold our house, bought an RV, and started working summer jobs at fascinating places. We’ve done that for seven summers until this year. By living inexpensively and working 4-6 months, we’ve been able to appease our thirst for travel by visiting numerous countries from Thailand to Germany to South Africa, walking the Erie Canal Trailway for five weeks, cruising the Amazon River, and spending a month living in a small town in Mexico.
Are you ready?
Nobody alive today has been through anything quite like this. Perceptions are – or should be – changing. One is the definition of essential workers. The people who grow, harvest, process, transport and retail our food are greatly more valuable to our society than how they’re generally treated. Same for those who keep us supplied with everything from electricity to toilet paper.
We’re also seeing a regeneration of citizen involvement in the political process. This acceleration began following the 2016 elections, and it’s increasing still, due partly to the bungling of the health crisis.
How’s that for two extremes? Maybe you’d like to get your hands dirty, either working the soil or cleaning a swamp.
You can probably deduce from our book that we have found great pleasure in minimizing our domestic footprint. Living smaller requires less time that we’d like to spend doing what we enjoy and it frees up more money to do so.
If your current situation is one that’s putting you in a financial squeeze, you owe it to yourself to check out other options. However, we always try to make the point that what we’re doing is not for everyone. Do your research. Ask a lot of questions of people who have preceded you. Be brutally honest with yourself about what you like and, more importantly sometimes, what you don’t like. Try to think of every possible negative thing that could happen and weigh them against the positives.
And then? And then?
Seriously, though, this could be the ideal time for you to ask what comes next. And you might very well find the answer to be that you’re best off right where you are. Wouldn’t that make you feel great to reaffirm you’re on the right track?
When you decide, however, that you should set off in a different direction or make any substantial change in your life … once you’ve come to that conclusion … next comes the most difficult part.
You and your co-decision-makers are the only people who can make the call. Do you go whole-hog in chasing your dream? Are you able to keep one foot in your present situation while dipping your other into your ambition?
When you come to that decision, don’t do what I’ve done here. While writing this, I’ve kept circling around to say essentially the same thing over again. It’s time to make a move.
Chase that dream.