Redefining the American Dream

At 30, we weren’t overly impressed with the American Dream. We were living in Southern California making six figures between the two of us. Plenty to keep us (and the cat) happy, right? We could walk to the beach from our apartment or drive to LA or Disneyland whenever we wanted. We had the means to eat out, buy the latest Smart gadgets, and take weekend trips to Vegas. But something was missing.

At the end of the day, we were too mentally exhausted to take advantage of our area or even enjoy the beautiful weather. We were feeling uninspired and stuck in our day-to-day routines. If asked, we both would have said the reason we worked so hard was to travel, but even when we took trips we found ourselves worrying about the workload we’d be returning to rather than living in the moment. At times, the stress was overwhelming. We felt like we didn’t have control over our time and energy.

It started with a sick day.

One day, Riki was home sick (I worked from home). He was dreading returning to work the next day and I asked him, “What would you rather be doing?” He said he would rather be traveling, obviously. “So why don’t we?” I asked. From there it was like a tidal wave. We put aside all the reasons why we couldn’t pursue long-term travel and started throwing out ideas of how we could. 

We toyed with the idea for another two years. “The Plan” changed so many times we lost count. At one point we were going to take our cat to Europe and rent a campervan. A few months later we planned to spend the majority of our time in the United States and Canada. Later we almost completely removed the US from the itinerary. Regardless of how many times the plan changed, the point was we were dreaming about what was possible. Whenever a crazy idea came up, rather than dismissing it completely, we let ourselves explore the option.

If not now, when?

American Dream: big house in the suburbs
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a fancy house in the suburbs; it’s just not our priority.

As Americans, we’re told we should strive for a spouse and a nice house with a yard, dog, and 2.5 kids. We’re told that if we stick to the plan and put in our 40+ hours per week until age 65, we can do whatever we want. But being able to live it up in retirement isn’t guaranteed.

Riki worked in retirement planning and time and time again, people said they wanted to travel when they retired. Yet time and time again, health and other challenges that come with age got in the way. At a time when people were supposed to be celebrating crossing the finish line of the American Dream, many were no longer physically or mentally capable of doing everything they worked so hard for. Maybe that was okay for our parents’ generation, but we aren’t buying it.

We finally decided to take our lives into our own hands at what was probably the worst possible time: the month before our wedding. Despite the fact that we had so much going on and stress was high, we decided we couldn’t wait another year, let alone another 35 years, to start living. So we put together a plan to live our American Dream and to invest our time, energy and money in ourselves. On this blog, we’ll share the details of that plan and show you how you can apply the lessons we’ve learned to your own life so you can achieve your dream. Ours is to travel the world. What’s yours?   

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