One thing that really bothers me is when people say that they’re jealous or envious of my life. While I’m open about sharing my struggles, for the most part you just see the highlights of my life. You see all of my successes, but not many failures. You see the end destination but not the journey it took to get there.
I grew up in a typical middle class family. My parents weren’t loaded but we certainly weren’t poor by any stretch of the imagination. There was always food in the fridge and I got to participate in every sport under the sun. But we didn’t really take family vacations, and I had to pay my own way through college, which I eventually couldn’t afford to finish.
Nothing has ever been handed to me in my life. I’ve worked so hard for every dollar I’ve ever made, everything I’ve ever owned, and every experience I’ve had.
I’ve struggled with depression. I had a severe eating disorder for the first 19 years of my life. I’ve been so broke that I’ve overdrawn my bank account by thousands of dollars. I’ve lived in some shitty apartments. And I’ve been cheated on by every guy I’ve ever dated.
But I’ve also saved up my hard earned dollars to visit 10 countries in 2 years. I’ve lived in places that others can only dream of. I’ve built two successful businesses and am in the process of creating a third (which you’ll learn about very soon!).
Through all of my experiences both good and bad, I became the strong, independent woman I always dreamed of and have inspired thousands of others to do the same.
I fully believe that life is what you make it. That the energy you put out into the world is the energy you receive back. I believe that every human being has the power and responsibility to create the life that they want to live. Keep reading for an in-depth guide on how to build a life that you love, and how to live life to the fullest every single day.
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Write a list of your biggest dreams in life.
It doesn’t matter how outrageous or terrifying it is. Money is no issue, and neither are your day to day responsibilities. If you want to do it, write it down. Here is what’s on my personal list:
-Visit 100 countries, and hike over 1,000 miles around the world
-Hike the tallest mountain on each continent
-Build businesses that leave a lasting impact on people and the world
Now create a plan for how to accomplish those dreams.
Focus on the big picture. Think 10, 20, 50 years from now. And figure out how to do it.
Now focus on the small stepping stones, and bring reality back into the picture. Break your plan up into smaller goals that seem manageable to accomplish with where you’re at in your life right now. If you can’t make your goals work with your lifestyle, change your lifestyle to align with your long term goals.
What this looks like for me is: Plan one international vacation and research hiking trails and outdoor adventures I want to have. See what other countries are nearby and within my budget to travel to. Goal: Visit 3 new countries per year.
Over this time I’ll be continuing to grow my income that I earn online so that I can travel full time and knock out more countries. But for now, this is the goal that fits with my life as it currently is.
Photograph By: Megan Fine
Plan what your goals are based only off of what will make YOU happy.
Nothing else. Never plan your goals with finances in mind or what other people want from you. Not what your parents had in mind for you, not what life your spouse wants to live, or what will make you the most money. Only plan your goals based on what will make you the happiest person alive.
Think about the worst thing that could happen if you fail.
What’s the worst possible case scenario if you (for example) want to start a business but it fails? If you finally take that trip abroad and run out of money? If you move but don’t like the place you moved to? When you think of the worst case scenario, you’ll most likely realize that you have something to fall back on, or that the worst case scenario is not that bad. It won’t ruin your life.
Personally for me, if my business fails then I’d have to move out of Colorado and back in with my parents. And that’s where I’m at right now. Not due to business failures, just some very unfortunate scenarios in my personal life. But it’s giving me an opportunity to just focus on growing my business and saving my money for travel, so is the worst thing that can happen really that bad?
I’ve had a lot of things go terribly wrong while traveling, but I’ve never been in a situation I couldn’t get out of. Most things that you may worry about while traveling can be planned for in advance.
If you’re worried about running out of money, plan your budget ahead of time. If you’re worried about safety, make sure you take protective measures like traveling with a friend, staying in well lit/safe areas, etc. I have tons of blog posts on things like staying safe and budgeting for solo travel, so make sure to give those a read!
If you move and don’t end up liking where you live, you could always go back to where you came from, or try somewhere new!
RELATED: How To Travel On A Budget
Realize that nothing in life is permanent.
I used to put so much pressure on things that I didn’t need to. I thought if I got a job it had to be my career. If I moved to a new city I thought I had to build the rest of my life there. If I was sad I thought that was going to last forever.
Everything in life is constantly changing. People come and go. Places change over time. A job could serve you for a long time and teach you a lot, but maybe over time your skills are better suited somewhere else and that’s ok! If you moved back to your hometown after college and that’s not where you want to stay forever, you don’t have to!
If you’re sad, realize that life is a never-ending series of highs and lows. Just because you’re at a low point doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. Even if you can’t see it right now, things WILL get better. They will.
Change your perspective on “failing”.
If something doesn’t work out the way you planned, you learned something from it. At least you had the guts to try. That means a LOT. Look at “failures” as lessons or opportunities to try something else.
Quit looking at minor setbacks as failures. Quit looking at having to work a second job as a failure. Stop thinking that if you don’t have the same material items or as much money as others that you’re failing. Everyone’s journey in life is different. I always used to be jealous of the things that my friends had.
When I was SO proud of buying my Jeep and felt like it was the greatest accomplishment of my life, some girl whose parents bought her Jeep took one disgusted look at mine and proceeded to tell me why hers was so much better. I don’t care if my Jeep isn’t as nice as others, it fits my budget and I can modify it how/when I want to.
Photograph By: Alexis Kunde
Focus on the things you can control and forget about the things you can’t.
You can’t control where you grew up or what family you were born into. You can’t control if your spouse cheats on you, or if you lose your job. Nor can you control the way others perceive you or whether or not they like you.
But you CAN control how you react to those situations. You can choose to not trust for the rest of your life but in the end you’re the only one getting hurt there. Choose to be insecure and think that there’s something wrong with you, or you can be thankful that you didn’t spend the rest of your life with someone who didn’t deserve you.
You can control where you live, how you save your money, where you work, whether you take care of your health or not, and whether or not you’re going to focus your energy on the positives or the negatives. You are in control of your mindset and how you choose to move forward in every situation.
Choose to focus on the positives.
I do think it’s important to let yourself feel negative emotions whenever you need to. I think if you bottle up your anger, hurt, or sadness it only gets worse over time. However I also believe that staying down for too long only affects you. It only stops you from being able to move on and it only lets opportunities pass you by. Life will go on with or without you.
Overall, focus on the things that make you happy and the things that you do have. If you’re reading this, you have a computer or smartphone and internet service and there are people in this world who don’t know when their (or their kids) next meal is going to be.
The energy that you put out into the world is the energy that you get back. If you stay positive, good things will come your way.
Realize that time is precious and not guaranteed.
So all the things that make you smile, face your fears, make dumb decisions, waste your money, fall in love, and do everything you’ve ever wanted to do. I know it’s not fun to think about, but you could get in a car accident tomorrow and lose your legs or get diagnosed with a terminal illness.
I’ll tell you a secret: My biggest fear in life. It’s not dying falling off the side of Angel’s Landing, or getting hypothermia climbing to top of Mount Everest, or getting kidnapped. It’s being on my death bed, looking back, and saying “I wish I would’ve tried to climb Mount Everest.” or “I should’ve spent $200 on paragliding in the alps instead of on one night at the bar.”
Learn how to let go of things that don’t serve you or don’t make you happy.
If your partner or friends don’t realize your worth, ditch them. I am far less lonely now that I’m single than I ever was in a relationship. Read that again, and ask yourself if you feel the same. If your boss treats you like crap or tells you that you’re replaceable guess what… they’re replaceable too!
Don’t ever go above and beyond for someone who wouldn’t go above and beyond for you. Realize your worth. If someone doesn’t like you then that’s their problem not yours. If other people don’t see your worth then they’re not worth your time or energy.
Photograph By: Alexis Kunde
There are many things that can be stolen from you in life but your happiness is not one of them.
Not by your friends, your boss, your family, your partner that left you… anyone. If someone wrongs you it is your responsibility to move past it. Being angry at someone for too long only gives them power over your emotions. Your happiness cannot rely on the things that happen to you or the things you have. It needs to come from feeling fulfilled in your life.
Live life on your own terms.
Forget traditional ideas if they don’t align with your values and the things you want in life. Personally I believe the following statements: College is a waste of money. Getting married is overrated and unnecessary. Traveling the world is a much better use of money than buying a house. Kids ruin your life. Working a 9-5 is torture.
I have no problem with other people going to college, getting married, getting a “real” job, and settling down. But none of those things appeal to me, so I just choose to live my life differently.