5 STEPS TO A BIG LIFE CHANGE
How do you “make the big move,” “take the big leap,” “change your life” or whatever else you may call it? Here are the major steps that Alisa and I took, in order:

STEP 1: DECIDE THAT YOU REALLY WANT A BIG CHANGE

This is easier said that done. We gave up well-paying corporate jobs with amazing benefits, left one of the greatest cities in the world, and moved away from our friends and family. For us, it came down to the fact that we were not enjoying every day. And regardless of what Loverboy tells you, “Workin’ For The Weekend” is no way to live…(sorry, and totally unrelated, but that song always makes me think of this clip).

So are you ready to give up the comforts and familiarity of your daily routines? This is what Tim Ferriss, in The 4-Hour Workweek (one of my favorite books), says is the most common and most insidious problem –
“a tolerable and comfortable existence doing something unfulfilling.”

5 STEPS TO A BIG LIFE CHANGE

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STEP 2: DEFINE THE BIG CHANGE

For us, we decided that we wanted to travel as much as possible, but first spend a year in one location chilling out and decompressing. There are tons of places that Alisa and I want to visit, but we knew we wanted to take it easy first and get used to a new lifestyle of limited funds and maximum fun.

5 STEPS TO A BIG LIFE CHANGE - Woody's

(This is exactly when Alisa and I decided to move to St. John back in February 2011…while we were drinking $1 drinks at Woody’s Happy Hour)

What is your “big change?” Maybe you want to learn to sail and explore the Caribbean islands, start a new profession that’s something you always wanted to do, or maybe you just want to start crossing off that bucket list and realize that “someday” needs to be today or it will never happen! Define your big change and start getting excited.

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STEP 3: PICK A DATE

Now that you know what you want to do, you need to figure out when you can do it. Be careful here not to go back in your old ways and think that “someday” it’ll happen…IT WILL NOT HAPPEN until you pick a date. Also, do something to make this date official, such as buying the plane tickets (or just make it public by posting it on Facebook and telling everyone about it).

5 STEPS TO A BIG LIFE CHANGE - Truman Show

Alisa and I just watched The Truman Show last night (not for the first time but it’s been a while). It’s amazing how much of the movie is focused on Truman’s desire to travel and explore the world, yet faces obstacles at every turn (an extreme fear of water, a travel agent that can’t seem to find him any tickets for the next 30 days as well as anti-travel posters all of the place like the “IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!” one on the left, a sick mother, a wife who wants to stay put and start having babies, and so on and so on).

Truman’s obstacles were all manufactured, but our obstacles are all real. Only when you decide what you want to do and when (exactly) you intend to do it, can you move on to the next step.

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STEP 4: WORK BACKWARDS

If you are planner (like Alisa) or a list-lover (like me), then you will love this step. If not, you will still have fun getting into the details of planning the next phase of your life. As a very general guide, you will need to start planning for the following:

Money
How much savings can you afford to spend (if any), how much you will need to live, how much you will need to earn, etc.

Accommodation
Options galore here; such as apartments, house rentals, backpacking, HelpX, Workaways, Couchsurfing, HomeExchange, and so on…

Jobs
What skills do you have? What skills could you learn? I realized that a decade spent in the corporate world really does not give you too many practical skills outside of business (I can barely put up a towel rack in the bathroom). This is when I decided to learn how to bartend and I cannot tell you how happy I am that I did that. I love bartending here and most likely would have never been able to do it without previous experience. What job is calling YOUR name?

5 STEPS TO A BIG LIFE CHANGE - St. John Apartment

(Another pic from our first visit to St. John…at the very same apartment complex where we live now)

The internet will be your main tool for research, however, don’t underestimate your network of contacts, friends and family. You never know who knows someone who did the same thing you are planning to do or lived in the same place you are moving to and can give you first-hand advice and maybe even some intros. For us, Alisa’s high school friend Margot was living in St. John and let us stay with her to compare St. John vs. St. Thomas and also made the intro for Alisa to Kekoa, the tour operator that she still works for.

Also, Alisa and I knew that we would rent an apartment but booked a cheap Inn for 2 nights with the option to stay longer if we needed to. We found a great apartment right away (moving here in the off season helped) and we moved in on our third day in St. John.

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STEP 5: START LIVING YOUR NEW LIFE

There will always be unknowns and no list will ever be complete, however, that is the fun of it all! Take, for example, our car…I definitely didn’t want to buy a car but came around after a full month here in St. John. It became apparent that having a car would allow us to fully explore and enjoy the island…every beach, hiking trail, and secret cool spot could now be accessed whenever we want (and walking up our massive hill will armfuls of groceries was getting old!)

There are so many things that you will learn along the way. Mistakes will be made but just the fact that you are doing it is the most important part. As the date of your big change approaches more details will become clear, until finally it’s time to JUST DO IT! Remember, you only live once. If things don’t work out with your plans you can always try something else. I know that I’d rather take a life of risk, adventure, and fun as opposed to a tolerable and comfortable existence doing something unfulfilling.

What about you?

5 STEPS TO A BIG LIFE CHANGE - Virgin Islands Pub Crawl

Do you agree with these 5 steps to a big life change? Are we missing any steps? Please leave a comment below!