Ever since high school, my dream job has always been travel writing. Along the way, many people told me it would be too difficult—or even impossible. I believed it.
For a long time, I thought I would need to work a desk job forever, to pay my bills and student loans. I didn’t like cubicle life, so at the end of last year, I shifted my attitude and started thinking positively.
In May, I quit my 40-hour-per-week office job to pursue freelance travel writing. And now, I’m satisfied and happy.
I’m no life coach, but if you want to start living your own dreams, consider the four steps I took. I realize everyone’s situation is different, but maybe my personal experiences can offer insight and inspiration for you.
1. Identify Your Dream
What are you passionate about? Find it and pursue it—even if it doesn’t seem like a practical or lucrative career path.
I decided on a career goal early in life. I joined my high school newspaper at age 14, and I have been involved with journalism and writing ever since. That’s 10 years now.
At age 16, I went to Europe for the first time and fell in love with traveling. When I returned home, I started scheming about ways I could move abroad. I also started reading works by authors who spent a lot of time traveling. That’s when I first identified my dream job: travel writing.
2. Actively Seek Out Opportunities
In the last decade, I’ve been involved with several student publications, earned my bachelor’s degree in journalism, and completed five internships in my field. These experiences gave me plenty of opportunities to network with other journalists and writers.
Over the years, I also spent a lot of time researching and daydreaming about my travel plans. I’ve had a few opportunities to go abroad, twice with school and once on my own.
You can apply the same basic principles for following any dream. Doing research, getting relative life experience, and networking are important practices for everyone when it comes to attaining life goals.
3. Think Positively
Anybody who truly believes in themselves and always maintains a positive attitude should have an easier time reaching their goals.
At some point after college graduation, I started to forget about my dream and began to settle for something easier. Sometimes, my outlook was negative, and I often expected the worst.
Fortunately, some optimistic people taught me the power of positivity. I now think that when you expect something good, you are more likely to bring positive change into your life. Once I decided I believed in myself, I started telling people I really was going to Europe and launching my freelance career. After that, my own statements became self-motivation and inspiration.
4. Keep Your Word
It’s easy enough to say something like, “I’m quitting my job and moving to Europe in 6 months.” It’s an entirely different thing to actually do this.
When I first told my friends about my plan, one said to me, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” The first time he said it, I knew I would keep my word. After the third time, I bought my ticket that very night.
When you tell other people about something you’re setting out to do, it becomes more real than dreams that stay inside your head. Once someone else knows your plans, it’s easier to stick to them—because you know somebody else is rooting for you.
The picture in this post symbolizes my entire experience with “living the dream.”
I used to have a computer desktop background depicting those beautiful aqua-blue lakes connected by cascading waterfalls. I daydreamed about going there. That place was Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, and I used this destination as a motivation and inspiration for planning my trip. I made it there about 2 months after arriving in Europe.
Fulfilling this dream was a bit expensive, somewhat out of my way, and touristic, but completely worth it—which is exactly how I feel about quitting my job and becoming a travel writer.
Have you followed your career dreams? Let us know the push that got you there!
(Photo: Anna Marden)