Today, will be a good day. Today, I will keep my promise to myself and make the changes I need to save the money, lose the weight, work out. Sound familiar? Waking up with good intentions but feeling frustrated when you lapse back into habits as the day wears on?
As a nomadic couple, Bello and I have met an inspiring amount of couples, who like us, have made big life changes. Changes that allow freedom of time, money and motivation to follow dreams. Tiff & Chris from Vagabond Way are just such a couple.
Tiff first caught my attention, when I read that she, like me, had once worked in fast food. A far cry from paying off debt and traveling around the world for over a decade.
It got me thinking about motivation. When you have a very long haul in front of you, big goals and dreams, how do you stay motivated?
Since there is no one better than Tiff to tell her story, she’s agreed to lend her voice to this article. Here’s the story of how a college decision to follow her heart, set Tiff up to find the motivation to follow her dreams.
5 Tips to Staying Motivated
- Don’t ever ignore your inner nagging voice: We all have our own, unique inner voice. Even if we try to turn on the TV, radio, clean out the fridge for distraction, it’s still there in the background. In college, I had a feeling that wouldn’t go away. That I should change my major to “just” art and a degree that “wouldn’t count for anything that could earn me money.” People might have the best of intentions with the advice they give you, but they don’t have your voice in their heads 24/7.
- Listen to your voice smartly: Even though I do take what a lot of people perceive as risks, I take calculated risks. When I first moved to Wyoming after college, I did so in a way that gave myself an out (which you can read here.) I have my own safety rules like having at least six months in savings, that I just don’t break. This way I don’t make rash decisions if my inner voice is going a little too wild.
- Know what you don’t want: I did not know exactly what type of life I wanted to create for myself, but I sure knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be bogged down with debt and thus need to stay at jobs I didn’t like. Debt should be a conscious choice. Not just “Oh this is how everyone else around me is living.”
- Be easy on yourself: If you find yourself thinking heavily about all these things, I’m guessing you are probably judging yourself too. I did, we all do. It’s a constant effort to be gentle and kind to one’s self but in the end, it frees you to make better decisions.
- Remember it takes time: When I first realized I wanted to be a professional traveler, four years had gone by and I had still only been to under ten countries. It takes a lifetime to find the person we want to be and mold ourselves consistently into that. There is no magic wand to wave about. In real life, change is created every day by one small habit and action at a time.
The Secret Behind Creating Motivating Habits
ALOR: What got you started on a path to finding motivating habits in your own life?
Tiff: As a young person in my early twenties, I felt society had a basic life path laid out. I would work really hard, own a house, have a lot of debt which would keep me bound to working. If I was really lucky, did what I was supposed to do, I could retire when I was 65. All with the hope I would still be in good health.
Staring at my college room wall, this prognosis left me with despair. There have to be other options. What other paths exist?
I was at the point where I needed to declare a major. After much turbulence and conflict, I tried Interior Design. I thought to myself “OK, this is good. This is creative, interesting.” When people ask, I can say “I am studying Interior Design.” They’ll know how to respond “Oh that’s nice, good for you.”
A great plan until I realized Interior Design, was really Math in disguise. After more internal turbulence, meetings with professors and department chairs, I went against all their advice and changed my major to “just” a Bachelor of Arts. It was the best thing I ever did.
This allowed me the freedom to explore all the areas I was interested in. All of the sudden, I went from barely being able to get out of bed in the morning to feeling motivated to explore my work. My decision was freeing.
Although I didn’t see it at the time, that one decision was a mental shift. I began the process of creating internal motivation. Fast forward ten years and I lived, worked and traveled to over 30 countries.
Motivation is the difference between intention and action.
Tiff: Life is ever evolving as are our interests and passions. Keeping ourselves fresh and motivated is a constant healthy life habit. I have the freedom to pursue my passions and I am excited and thankful for this life I have.
ALOR: Thank you for your honesty and insight into what motivates you. We couldn’t agree more that being kind to yourself is important, especially when you realize life is ours to mold over time. There is a fine line between intention and action. The difference day-to-day, the force that tips you to one side or the other, is clearly motivation. Making the connection between day-to-day decision-making, listening to your heart and motivation is powerful insight indeed.