Stop Paying Your Bills

Living Life not Bills

I was sitting in my coffee shop, stressing over how to pay the bills. I know stress is a killer, but it only got worse as, out of my periphery, I see this guy down beside me, and I know. I just know I’m not going to be able to escape from talking to him. I had on my stranger-danger prophylactics: headphones. And I stared hard at my computer screen, focusing, looking busy. But then he was gesturing inches from my face.

*sigh* I turned to look.

He pointed at the outlet, holding up his charger.

I smiled and nodded.

He said something.

Dammit. I pulled a plug from my ear. And the next thing I know, I’m answering questions about what I do (teach for a university), what I teach (outdoor leadership), what leaders I teach about (several people from Paul Petzoldt to Elon Musk), and what field that’s relevant to (outdoor recreation & education).

But Tim Streetman was totally my kinda person. He was about 9 years my senior, beard, stocking cap, enjoys Maker’s Mark, technology and coffee shops. He actually seemed like the sort of person I might teach or write about.

And then he confirmed this very thing.

“What I say is,” Tim said, gesturing toward me with both hands, “stop paying your bills, and start funding your life!”tweet-button-01

Stop paying your bills, and start funding your life.There was no way he had of knowing how profoundly confirming this statement was. The very next day I had a meeting scheduled to tell my boss that I would be leaving in May.

“I hate to see you go, but congratulations,” I anticipated him saying. “Can I ask where you’re going?”

That was the fun part. We’re going nomad. After two years looking for the right exit plan, coming close but not finding just the right fit, we’re making our own exit plan. We’re moving into an RV trailer and traveling either to the next gig or until there’s a next gig.

It’s the lifestyle I’ve craved since before I sat flipping through the pictures of Patagonia catalogs. I’ve lived this adventure on an off again alone. It’s how my life partner and I promised each other we would live when our relationship evolved from dating to commitment. Now it’s time for us to take our family on the road.

So why am I stressed? Well, let’s see…

  1. I have several mouths that depend upon us in order to be fed.
  2. I’ve worked my ass off over the last 15 years to get to this point in my career.
  3. I’m 5 years younger than my dad was when the economy jerked the rug from under his finances.

I know why.

But there are also two other reasons I’m stressed.

  1. I cannot bear the thought of dying having missed my dreams.
  2. I cannot bear the thought of our children missing their own dreams.

And while, yes, it’s true that our children have more opportunities when we can provide them the resources, it is also true that we are their first example for living. If I don’t show them life is worth the risk, what foundation do they have to believe theirs is possible?

As American entrepreneur Jim Rohn said: “You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.”

So why stress it? What am I doing? I’m creating a life in which my children can dream. tweet-button-01