How to Change Your Life

I have a tough time describing to people exactly what I do for a living and where I live and why so I end up in a lot of conversations online and offline about jobs, and life, and travel and dreams. I love hearing dreams! I also know a lot of us have the tendency to talk about change and never do anything about it (myself included!). I am probably one of the worst at that but once in a while I make some big dreams happen and people ask a lot about it. If you think something like a new career working with flowers or styling or a trip around the world is something you dream of, here are some tips and insights, based on my own experience, and own haphazard ways of doing things.

Firstly, I think it’s also great to mention that if we even get to have these conversations, we come from a place of privilege. I personally don’t really hop on board with the “find your passion and bliss” and all of that. We need all sorts of jobs in this world and different outlooks and lifestyles. Travel and creative careers are not the answer for everyone. That said, life is too short to be sad and miserable at a cubicle everyday, so if you do dream of something different, this post is for you!

portugal

1. Nothing is perfect. Often, when I engage in these sorts of conversations, people are looking for a magical answer, a perfect life. Nothing is perfect. As my brother likes to remind me, everything in life is a trade off. Whatever new life you are able to acquire, one thing is for sure, you will have a new set of challenges. Weigh the positives and negatives and be honest with yourself about what your priorities are and what you are willing to sacrifice to make your dreams real. For example, when I left my home base in Portland, I was giving up a creative community, a great location for operating my business, all of my current and potential clients, most of my business and the ambitions and goals I had for it, everything I owned! The list goes on! Some people might say, “You traded all that and more to work as a glorified slave?” It’s all in how you look at it. At the time, my priority was to get my hands in the earth, apprentice on organic farms (I volunteered on farms in exchange for room and board, cutting out the rent factor), see more of the world, meet new people, and mix things up a bit to see what happened. I actually had no end goal in site. I ended up staying in Europe and moving to Lisbon. I got a whole new life, and a whole new set of problems, with my new-found-life and accomplished dreams.

camellias porto

2. Let go of a plan. Sometimes the new life means being open to what could happen. Yes there’s a certain amount of sensibility you should have when quitting a job or taking off to a new continent with a limited amount of money. Be realistic (I find that means different things for different people). But to mix things up, you often have to make one decision without knowing where it will lead you. You can have plan A. B, C, but you may end up at Z eventually. I’ve found the next step will eventually reveal itself once you make a step. And, that first step might not come as an epiphany, it might mean just taking a step.

change your life

3. Don’t wait for an epiphany. I find often with myself, I am waiting for some grand vision, some big sign. Sometimes getting started, literally means taking a step forward and to stop analyzing. Just do something and if it doesn’t work, try something else!

oleander

4. Take risks. It’s great to have plan A and plan B but sometimes life doesn’t work like that. Be realistic, Don’t be stupid- again this means different things to different people. But a new life is going to involve some huge risks. Some of the best decisions I made, made absolutely no sense on paper. I’ve quit jobs with less than $500 in my bank account, I’ve landed in a new country with $14 to my name, I’ve flown to a new city with no place to sleep, and I’ve moved continents without a place to live.

lisbon barrio alto

5. Ask for advice but not from everyone. Ask for advice from people who’ve done what you want to do. But don’t get lost asking everyone you know. I am guilty of this and I get so easily influenced by other people. Trust yourself, know what is right for you. Listen to a few people you trust, but in the end, make the decision for you. Because everyone will have their own take on your decisions, and it’s through their lens and life experience, not yours. What’s a deal breaker for some, is not a big deal to others.

What are you currently dreaming of?

You might also like:

How to Become a Floral Designer
How to Become a Prop Stylist
How to do a Farm Stay
How to Slow Travel
Why I Rarely Research Before Traveling
Lisbon Travel Guide
How to Find the Perfect City

Top photo of my friend, Amber.

10 Comments

  1. It really is that simple β€”Β and that difficult!

    Chelsea, I have always admired your boldness, humility and candor. Throwing off the yoke of expectations, being okay with missteps, ambiguity, and the occasional panic attack, is what leads us to serendipity and a sense of purpose. Sometimes, just letting “the soft animal of your body love what it loves” (Mary Oliver) is a challenge in and of itself! I’m working on it.

    Thanks for writing this. I needed to read it.

  2. What a fabulous post! I love all your wise words of advice, and your last point especially resonated with me. I can get too bogged down asking lots of different what they think sometimes! Learning to trust my instincts is something I’m still working on. xxx

  3. Love to read words of wisdom. I love when people tell me I had courage to leave my job, I do prefer to give it a try and not think all the life I could change something and I lost my chance. Thing is, I could always go back to what I did before…and that backup plan is always present, even now I know it probably won’t happened.

  4. Thank you, Chelsea. How poignant this was for me – having just quit a job which many would consider the ideal grad position but which I found stifling, and now unemployed but looking for the next step.
    It’s a grand journey, eh?
    Your advice was thoughtful, realistic and gentle, and a lovely reminder that joy can be in the ‘not-yet-knowing’!
    Best wishes xx

  5. Thank you for this. It really speaks to me as we are back in the States after living abroad and miserable. Once we had kids, the pressure to be near family was overwhelming, but I’m regretting the move back here. It’s absolutely true that nowhere is perfect. But when we can find the set of trade-offs that work for us, that’s the key. Such a great reminder! Thanks again.
    PS – Fellow Portlander πŸ˜‰

  6. Hi Chelsea,

    Love this post and as always, your lovely pictures! Being a military kid, I’ve moved a lot so this last move to WA somehow has been not exactly what I thought- you summed it up- I have new challenges! Such a great way of looking at things. I used to think that because I kept switching my mind of what I want to do or where I want to live, that I was a failure for not staying true to something. Then, I was told to look at life more like a ‘scientist’. I should be able to keep experimenting and not look at failures but look at what I learned from each experiment.

    kind regards,
    -Karla

  7. Love this….as always, a truthful reflection of what change is and means. It’s never perfect.

    I left Canada at 30 (family, friends, career, etc) to come to the States just in time for the worst-ever recession in my industry…and it’s even worse now! But I have a lovely home in a town I really like, a sweetie of a (2nd!) husband, good friendships and a deep professional network — it just took a lot longer than I expected or wanted.

    Patience is a useful thing to pack. πŸ™‚

  8. Love the way you wrote this post and the photos! It really speaks to me. I left Lisbon 5 years ago and lived in 4 countries, 5 cities and 7 houses since then. As you said it comes with pros and cons but I like the adrenaline and to be able to learn more about the world we live in. On the other hand I have my guy traveling with me and I know that’s why this lifestyle works for us. Family keep asking “when are you coming back?”, “you’ll come back, won’t you?” and I seriously don’t know. For now, I just can’t tell.

    Regards from Sweden,
    Francisca

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