I’ve hit a new phase in my life. I don’t know how I got here. I just know that I’ve arrived. So it’s time to start a new blog series that addresses the restlessness of the presence and the uncertainty of the future. What I feel certain about is that I’m ready for a move. Maybe even a big move. But at this point, I have more questions than answers.
Push and Pull Factors
My life has changed tremendously in the last 17 months, when I had a stressful high-profile career and a young adult in the house. Then my job was taken away, my child claimed her independence, a couple of cats died, and I’ve been obsessed with filling the money gap by creating online courses for the Early Exit Academy. This summer I traveled to Germany (Bavaria) to visit my brother and sister-in-law, and I just returned from a trip to southern Africa. Both trips awakened my sense of adventure. Never have I felt so unsettled.
All big decisions should be driven by a combination of push and pull factors. Push factors are those things that drive you away from a predicament or place. Pull factors draw you toward another life. I’ve been feeling the PUSH factors for quite some time now. But I don’t have the PULL part of the equation figured out yet.
Here are the things that are pushing me away from my current life.
A house that I no longer care about. This house, and neighborhood, served a purpose – raising my child in a safe environment. I spent years making my outdoor space look fantastic. I have a gazebo, deck, and landscaped gardens. But I no longer have the desire to take care of it all. And the house itself is nothing special. I don’t need the space and I’m ready to move on.
An unhealthy lifestyle. I’ve really struggled with my lifestyle this year, which is aggravated by working crazy hours from home. Despite multiple attempts, I’m not making progress (yet). I used to prepare healthy meals, but I’ve lost all interest in that too. And since I’m working from my home all day long, my all too-frequent escape is in the form of mid-day meals at the local deli.
Mass shootings and politics. I’ve worked on justice reform issues for decades and advocated for domestic violence survivors and our vulnerable older population. So it’s not like I haven’t contributed to making our society a little better. But now, I’m just tired of our reactionary divisive politics, the gun culture that takes so many innocent lives day after day, and the hatred spewing from the White House. I find it all intolerable and depressing.
Healthcare. The costs of healthcare are exorbitant. While I’m catching a break at the moment (thanks to my negative income), health insurance premiums and high deductibles are huge costs to bear. And should we lose the Affordable Care Act, my preexisting conditions would disqualify me from private coverage. I can access better healthcare at more affordable prices outside of the USA.
Cost of Living. I can stretch my dollars by moving to a region or country with a lower cost of living (geoarbitrage). I’m sitting on a huge asset – my house – that could cover living expenses for years to come if I move to a less expensive place.
I’m ready to make a change. And if not now, when? But what am I doing? Where am I going? How will I get there?
I don’t have a clear vision of where I want to live – yet. But there’s a big part of me ready to move to another country. I sometimes think about my ideal day and the lifestyle I hope to create. A lifestyle that includes
Morning walks to the local market to gather fresh food
Visits to my favorite cafe to grab a morning tea with friends
Incredible scenery that I can view from my porch or veranda
Cozy walks through town
Hiking, biking, and kayaking in the great outdoors
Using a scooter as my main mode of transportation
Evenings spent listening to music and watching sunsets
Opportunities to join outdoor adventures
Volunteering to help the environment
Self-paced work schedule
So there you have it. Where is this fantasy land? I know that even paradise comes with its own challenges, but I’m ready for an adventure and the time feels right. So why not give it a try? If it doesn’t work out, I can explore other options. The very thought excites me, and is a little terrifying too.
The wildcard in my decision-making process is my income. A few months ago, I launched my portfolio of courses at the Early Exit Academy. And I’m in the process of revamping my Better Life Challenges website, where I’ll begin offering interactive 30-Day Challenges for a price. But I’m still at a point where I don’t have any income. (If you’re wondering how I could afford exotic travel, I used frequent flier miles in one case and in the other, I had paid for the trip well before I lost my job.) So my stress level remains ultra-high.
My immediate concern is making money from my website, courses, and 30-day challenges. The products are there. The paying audience is not. Next week, I am headed to FinCon19 – the annual personal finance conference. There I will meet other bloggers, figure out how to monetize my blog in a way that suits me, and learn about marketing and promoting my products. What has become obvious is that I need help selling my stuff. So I hope to find a PR and/or marketing expert who can fill this void. I’m ready to make some money!
Today is also the start of a new journey to become a certified financial coach. I enjoy guiding people on their financial journey, but I don’t have the tools and strategies to turn coaching into a business. So I’ve sunk invested my dwindling resources into the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link). By December, I’ll have all the tools and strategies needed to create my own coaching business. It’s a good fit for me, especially since I can coach anyone from anywhere. My coaching credentials follow me wherever I go.
My “escape to paradise” timeline looks like this:
Sell stuff and start downsizing this fall
Get input from a realtor on necessary home improvements
Research and explore “paradise” options – I’m starting with Costa Rica
Evaluate my budget and income potential in the new year
Visit potential locations and talk to expats
Put the house on the market in spring/summer 2020
Move to paradise!
The entire plan could easily explode if I don’t have a decent income by the end of January. Then it’s time to re-evaluate my finances and pick up a salaried or consulting gig. Or maybe move up my escape timetable?
NOTE: If you’re wondering about my net worth – it’s a little over $1,000,000 ($300,000 is tied up in my house and almost all the rest in retirement funds). I turn 56 in December, so Social Security and Medicare are out of the picture for quite some time.
Dr. Brenda is a financial coach, educator, researcher, and sociologist. In addition to blogging at The Five Journeys, she writes 30-day challenges at BetterLifeChallenges.com. Her passion is guiding people on their journey to financial freedom through coaching at DrBrendaMoneyCoach and online courses at EarlyExitAcademy.com.
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