I had finally decided and committed to my goal of traveling to Asia. I wanted it to be at least 2 weeks in length and happen within the next 18 months. The problem was, I had just returned from a twelve month trip around the world where my company graciously allowed me to work remotely. I had even gotten a promotion while traveling. After the twelve months were up, I was to be back in the office full-time. While this certainly seemed like a predicament and deterrent to achieving this new goal, nine months later I was on a plane to Bali to start a three week adventure around Asia. I had achieved my goal in half the time I originally planned and was able to secure an extra week more of travel than I initially estimated. Here’s how I did it:
- Always be thinking ahead and creating plans. It is important to always have your goals in mind and realize there are many different ways to get to your objective. Much like a chess player, you need to always be thinking a few moves ahead so that when the times comes, you can take advatnage of an opportunity. I knew I wanted to go to Asia but I didn’t have a clear path. I was in the office everyday and only had so many vacation days. I began to brainstorm ways to stretch my vacation and schedule to make it happen. Within a few weeks I had a couple of feasible plans.
- Plan A – Use PTO. I thought if I could save up as many vacation days as possible and I could take off 12-20 in a row, at least in theory. I had 20 vacation days and could roll 5 over to 2019. So If I took only 15 days in 2018, I’d start with 25 in 2019 and if I only used 5 throughout the whole year I could feasibility take an entire month off with the 20 I had left. Not extremely likely, but in theory it made sense
- Plan B – Make it a business trip. This one had a few extra moving pieces based on timing of events but I still thought I could make it happen. We had licensing partners in Japan that I spoke to about once a month and more or less “owned” the relationship. I had a plan that by paying them a visit, I’d increase the value of the relationship by 10% next year and could create a presentation to show how I’d do it if needed. There was a Forbes conference in Thailand at the end of October and with my company, Advantage, being a Forbes partner, I thought I could probably get a ticket to the event. I also had a friend who would be in Korea for the month of October and would have access to a workspace that I could probably use. The final plan was to fly to South Korea and stay with my buddy while working out of the workspace, fly to Tokyo to meet with our Japanese partners and then fly to Bangkok to attend the conference. I would pay for my round-trip plane ticket and my company would only have to pay for a hotel in Tokyo, flight to Thailand and conference tickets. The total trip would last about two weeks and I would probably only need to use a few PTO days. This plan was more feasible but had a lot of moving parts.
- Plan C – be opportunistic. No plan, just act like a chess player, think two moves ahead and when the time comes, make my move.
- Be Opportunistic and Take Chances – I had Plans A, B and C in my head but I had to be patient to figure when to act on them. Plan A would take at least a year because I needed to accrue the PTO first. Plan B took many things to line up perfectly at the right time and Plan C, well wasn’t really a plan but it was my best shot. I arrived back in the US in March so I had nine months to finish out the year. I knew the first six months would be intensively working on integrating recent business acquisitions into our parent company. I did not know what project I’d be put on after the six months but I knew that only left three months (Q4) at the end of year to hop on to something new or continue what I was doing. My goal was to work hard to complete my role in the business integrations within that six month window because it gave me a chance to be opportunistic in those last three months. Instead of waiting until month five or six to start planning, I’d starting checking in with my boss after month three. I’d ask how he thought things were going, if we were still on plan to be complete by month six and most importantly, what’s next? I did this each month thereafter and was prepared to finish my involvement after month six. Since I had brought this conversation up so early, I began to see the landscape on what was next realized that the next project might get pushed out a bit. This was my chance.
- Drop Hints, Be Patient – During a 1 on 1 with my boss in around month five of my six month “assignment”, I brought up the fact that I’d love to travel again and go to Asia. At the time, I thought there was maybe a 0.5% chance it would happen. Nevertheless, I took a chance and explained my desire to travel to Asia and explained my reasons why. I did this because I knew was possible, but not plausible, that there would be a gap between finishing my current project and starting my next one. Within one or two weeks of this conversation this percentage went down to .01% because of shifts in the business and my new project being accelerated up a month. My initial project ended lasting about 7.5 months and I was due to start my next one right at the start of month 8 (beginning of December) so there wouldn’t be enough time to take my trip to Asia.
- Make it Happen – I went home for Thanksgiving, moved out of my apartment and had my entire life packed into my car in preparation for a move to Phoenix to start my new project on December 1. It just so happened a funny thing happened the day after Thanksgiving. I got a call from my boss, 5 days before I was to drive cross-country to start my new life, and he said the new project had gotten pushed back to January. He said I had two options; 1) come back to Charleston and work normally in the office in December and move out to Phoenix in January or 2) take that trip to Asia that I mentioned to him a few months earlier! There wasn’t an option where I could stay back home, work remotely and travel a bit during that down time. It was all or nothing – come back to work or go chase your dream. If I hadn’t taken a big chance and told him my desire to travel to Asia (something that seemed pretty unreasonable at the time), he would have never known and I would’ve been back in the office in Charleston that Monday. Because I was opportunistic, my .01% chance came through and I had gotten permission to take the trip I had been dreaming of. Now, I just needed to make it happen. I cancelled my AirBnBs I had booked for my cross-country trip, negotiated the lease I had signed to be moved to January and booked a one-way ticket to Bali because it was the cheapest place in Asia I could get to with such little time in advance. Three days later, I was drinking a tropical cocktail at a beachside pool in Bali as I began my three week trip around Asia. I was able to achieve my dream just nine months after being back in the office and it was all because I was opportunistic, remained patient and wasn’t afraid to suggest a crazy and outlandish idea that ended up coming to fruition.
Always be thinking ahead, realize no dream is too crazy to achieve and above all, make it happen! No one is going to achieve your dreams for you. If it means something to you, create a plan and execute. Simple as that.