Limited Time, Unlimited Dreams: 3 Steps to an Extraordinary Life

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Limited Time, Unlimited Dreams: 3 Steps to an Extraordinary Life

As I find my way closer to 50 (I’ll be 48 in a couple of months), I’m starting to see those small changes creeping up that I thought only happen to old people. Oh crap, am I old?!!

Out of nowhere, my eyes have gotten a little weaker – both near and far! I can see close-up pretty well most of the time but I finally broke down and bought some readers for nighttime reading.

The same goes for distance. I had a good run on the LASIK (20 years of awesomeness!) but I finally needed to see an optometrist and get glasses for driving, particularly at night. As an aside, Zenni Optical came through. I heard about them from the Clark Howard podcast and gave it a shot. I got my prescription glasses through Zenni for less than $25 out the door. I’m happy with them and the price is definitely right!

I had my preventative old-man colonoscopy a couple of months ago (all is good). My knees are certainly not what they used to be and I need to be careful when working out not to strain them too much. Speaking of working out, I recently got rotator cuff tendonitis and, even after a shot of Cortisone, it’s still not great.

This isn’t a complaint session where I talk about my health problems like seniors seem to love to do. If we’re lucky, we do get older. The downside is that most likely our bodies aren’t going to cooperate as much as they did when we were in our 20s. That’s life.

But with that comes the realization that we’ve only got a limited time on this planet. I feel like I’ve only really taken life by the reins over the past decade and I’ve been much happier for it. Most folks seem to just let time drift by riding out the motions though… are you one of them?

Wake up!!

“Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them.”

— Arnold Schwarzenegger

It’s such a prevalent story to hear folks say things like “Where has the time gone?” or “If I knew then what I know now.”

Unfortunately, that’s such a common theme in life because so many of us tend to focus on what we need to do today instead of what we truly want out of life.

As we grow up, we try to get a solid education, strive to get a good job, maybe fall in love, and possibly have kids. In the midst of all this, we find a nice place to live, get nicer cars, buy some new “I deserve it” toys, and try to live the good life.

But if you examine things a little closer, chances are that you’re spending the majority of your time at work. And then you might be shuttling your kids around to different activities, sports, and friends’ houses. You try to squeeze in working out here and there but that takes away from family time.

Remember hanging out with your friends? Please… they’ve got their own busy lives with the same old grind to attend to and coordinating schedules is tough. Now you’re lucky to see them once a month for a few hours.

Your kids are getting older and you want to “provide the best” for them so you maybe pick up a few more hours at work to save for their college education. You try to spend time with them, but you’ve got limited time available. In the meantime, you’re lucky to squeeze one family vacation in every year.

And guess what? Before you know it, you’ll find yourself uttering “Where has the time gone?” while shaking your head in disbelief.

Folks, that’s not the American Dream – that’s a nightmare!

There’s an amazing world out there and if you blink, you might just miss it!

My wake-up call was around 2014 when I discovered Joe Udo’s blog, Retire by 40. That was the kick in the pants I needed to realize that the hamster wheel most of us call life doesn’t need to be that way if you don’t want it to be. That was the catalyst that changed everything for me.

Plan and take action

“Complacency is the enemy of progress.”

— Mark Twain

If you’re one of the lucky ones who has woken up and realized that there’s more to your limited time here than just going through the motions every day, you’re a step ahead of most.

Sadly, that’s only the first step to a better life. Just because you realize there’s more out there, nothing will change unless you make it happen. And we all know that complacency is thy enemy. It’s so much easier to just continue down the same path rather than make any big changes – even if we know it’s for the better.

But the only way to improve things and get closer to your dream life is to work (and sometimes it can be real work) to make it happen. Even if you can’t do a 180° turn, you need to constantly be making small changes to help pivot in the direction you want.

The funny thing is that the closer you get to your dreams, the easier it seems to become. It’s kind of like saving – that first million is the hardest, but then subsequent growth becomes a lot easier because what you’ve already accomplished starts doing the hard work for you. The same goes for the snowball or avalanche methods of paying down debt – once one debt is paid off, you apply that money to make even larger payments to your next one, and so on. It becomes easier and more motivating as the snowball rolling downhill grows and gains speed.

The problem is that even if you do find your wake-up call, you need to figure out the direction you want to go and make the changes needed to make it happen… and that’s a hurdle a lot of us get stuck on…

  • I don’t have time to sit down and figure this out!
  • I can’t make big changes in my life – I have a family.
  • I don’t make enough money to be able to do what I want to do.
  • It’s too much of a risk.
  • While it sounds great, I can’t do it because [fill in whatever excuse you want here].

That, my friends, is the problem. We look at all the things that are supposedly holding us back and so we don’t do anything at all. And that keeps most of us on the hedonic treadmill until the day we die. Oh, and notice I said “supposedly holding us back” because, for most of us, our excuses are just ways for us to justify our fear of change and the unknown.

But always try to really grasp the limited time you actually have in life. You need to overcome complacency. You need to fight it if you want something different in your life. The reward can be so worth it!

For me, the dream was to be able to leave my career so I could spend more time with my daughter while she grew up. There’s a limited time window for that and if you miss it, you can’t get it back.

So early retirement was my initial dream and I made that happen at the end of 2018 at age 43. We then moved to Panama for almost 3 years starting in 2019 because why not? And it was an experience that you could only know if you’ve been an expatriate yourself… truly awesome.

The funny thing is that dreams continue to morph, too. My daughter’s almost 13 now, so it’s time to figure out what’s next.

We can continue to do what we’re doing now but there’s more that I want to do. Life is always changing so you need to be willing to make sure it’s going in the direction you want. If it’s not, it’s time to put up the sails and head toward your new dreams.

I struggled with that last part (still am a little). Life brought us back from Panama and I’ve shared the struggles I’ve been having in getting used to things again.

That’s not the end for us though. We’re now mapping out our next adventure (more to come on that soon!).

Live your best life

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

For most of my life, I lived within a comfort zone. I had fun, don’t get me wrong, but it was just essentially a “normal” life. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except that once you realize how much more fulfilling an extraordinary life can be, it’s hard to go back.

I’m just a regular guy typing some of my thoughts on the computer here periodically. I don’t consider myself to be different from the average person in most aspects:

  • I didn’t grow up rich.
  • I wasn’t the popular kid in school, but I still had plenty of friends, and I managed to do pretty well with my grades.
  • I worked from the time I was 16 until the time I retired with rarely a week or two between jobs.
  • I saved up and bought my first car myself.
  • I hung out with friends religiously throughout high school and college.
  • I made tons of mistakes in life – both personal and financial.
  • I made decent money in my career, but nothing crazy. And my wife, Lisa, worked at a non-profit where she didn’t make a lot of money (though she loved her job!). So as a household, we made good money but we weren’t swimming in cash.
  • We bought the beautiful dream house in the nice suburban neighborhood, had our obligatory 2 cars, and a daughter (an awesome daughter!).

In other words, I’m pretty much just an average Joe out there on the surface. But there is one difference from the majority of folks out there…

I’m living my best life in this limited time here on Earth. After my wake-up call and my push to early retirement, things have continued to snowball – in a good way.

Early retirement has been liberating and wonderful without a doubt. Nothing’s ever perfect, but being able to define your day each and every day is a real gift.

But the bigger rewards have blossomed from doing new and different things… things that aren’t really something I would have ever dared to try years ago. The biggest of these was undoubtedly our move to Panama in 2019 after selling almost everything we owned. This was not something that most of our friends or family could even fathom (except for one of my good friends who’s a military wife and has lived all over the world). To almost everyone, it seemed too uncomfortable to even think about doing something like this.

We did it though and lived there for almost 3 years. It turned out to be such a rewarding and amazing experience that most folks will never be able to appreciate. The people, the food, the landscapes, and the wildlife… amazing. Even the struggles there we would sometimes have were still not a big deal in the least.

And since we were doing things that were a little out of the norm, I ended up chasing other fun opportunities along the way:

Just this mindset of living our best life in our limited time in the world and doing these fun and cool things becomes news. We’ve been featured in Kiplinger, quoted in Forbes, and been a part of all sorts of other news outlets (including a front-page story in our old local newspaper). I did a popular YouTube interview about Boquete, and I’ve been a guest on a ton of podcasts. I was just featured in an extremely popular UK site called Express last week.

Why the attention? Is it because I’m special? Because I’m better than other people?

Hell no! It’s because we’re living our best life and enjoying every minute we can in life. But because it’s different than just running through the motions that most folks do on a daily basis, people raise an eyebrow – they want to know more.

Will most people change what they’re doing after reading what I write or seeing or hearing an interview I’m in? Nope. Some will get angry and say it’s not possible for them for whatever reason they want to use to justify their unhappiness. Others will appreciate it and think, “Yeah, maybe someday…” but they won’t make the changes to do something they dream of in life. Hopefully, though, one or two people will get their wake-up call like I did years ago and start making changes to chase their own dreams.

The reality is that you’ve only got a limited time to do all those things in life that you daydream about. If you don’t make it happen, it never will.

I don’t feel like there’s enough time to make magic happen and I don’t want to let the years go by otherwise. The older you get, the harder a lot of your dreams may become to do just because you don’t have the energy or strength.

If you noticed, I took a couple of weeks off from writing (sorry about that!). But hey, it’s my blog and I granted myself some time off. More importantly, we’ve been spending a lot of time planning out the next chapter in our best life. Once the plan is solidified a little more in the very near future, I’ll fill you in – and it’s pretty exciting.

Life’s short, so stop just doing what you’re expected to do and start planning to do what you’ve been dreaming of doing to live your best life.

Wait a minute – did the three sections of this post just expand on the closing line from all my posts and emails over the past several years? Hell yeah, it did!

Don’t waste your limited time here on Earth. Wake up, realize what’s out there, and do something about it! There’s no “next time around”, there’s no “well, I’m stuck and can’t change things”, and there might not be a chance to get what you want in life later.

Open your eyes, snap out of it, and make your limited time count! If you enjoyed this post, subscribe here and I’ll even send you some cool freebies, too…

And if you haven’t already created your bucket list in life, let my post, Creating Your Dream Life: The Ultimate Bucket List Blueprint, show you how it’s done.

Now stop reading this post and go make your dreams a reality! Have a fantastic week!

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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6 thoughts on “Limited Time, Unlimited Dreams: 3 Steps to an Extraordinary Life”

  1. Couldn’t agree more Jim! I spent a month in a few different cities and lived most of 2020 in Tennesee just to see what life was like there. We need to spend more time with our friends and less time on our screens or worrying about earning more, time flies!

    1. That’s really cool – TN’s a great state and it’s still on our radar as a possible future place to live. And yeah, 100% agree with stepping away from technology more and spending more time with others.

  2. That was a moving post Jim, thanks for sharing. Excited to hear all about your upcoming adventure! My daughter turns 13 this month like Faith, eeeh gadz, where has time gone!

  3. Oh wow, it’s been 5 years since you left. Time flies. You guys had an amazing time in Panama. Not many families have that kind of immersive experience.
    Thanks for the mention!

    1. Not quite – about 4 years, but yeah, it did go by fast and was such a surreal experience. With your time in Thailand, there’s no doubt you know how different it is in other places than the U.S., too! 🙂

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