By Grace Koelma | Dare List Mama
You know those things you want for your life, those small habits or characteristics that seem just out of your reach?
Perhaps it's eating healthier, exercising more regularly, being more assertive, listening more or finally starting that business idea you've had for years. Or perhaps, like us, it was all of that wrapped up in this bigger idea - to travel for a few years as digital nomads and show our son some truly amazing places and cultures.
These goals float around in our subconscious, surfacing at specific times like birthdays or New Year when our thoughts naturally go to resolutions. Google Trends actually shows that in January each year, the keyword 'Gym' spikes dramatically, and in turn, many gyms report seeing a 30-40% increase in memberships during the first month of each year.
In this screenshot I just took of Google Trend's graph for the search term 'gym' over the past year, you can see the marked spike just after the text that says December 18th. (There's another spike in July, and given this data is aggregated worldwide, I'd say that's when the folks in the Northern Hemisphere start getting their bodies 'summer ready'.)
Many of us are skeptical of New Year's resolutions.
It only takes a brief scroll through your Facebook feed on January 1st to see the optimistic promises of some of your friends, coupled with the (reactionary) cynicism of others who believe that resolutions mean squat. And for many, they do.
We had been making New Year's resolutions (and re-making them each month as we realised we were nowhere closer to achieving them) that we had no idea how to keep. It was so disheartening.
I actually stumbled across a Facebook status by a highly successful entrepreneur friend on New Year's Day 2017 that got me thinking about this...
"Is your feed and inbox full of people telling you not to do New Years Resolutions? I don't give a f**k about the stats of how few people keep their resolutions. The stats apply to any new 'change' someone wants to make... at New Year, or not.
Fact is, I keep my NY Resolutions. I love making them each year. That's because I know how to follow through ... and it's NOT all willpower and self-control.
If you wanna play ... then play. If you wanna spectate ... fine, whatever.
But if a NY Resolution is what gets you in the game ... then so be it. Ignore the disbelievers and f'ing go for it."
There will always be critics, but none so loud, compelling or convincing as your biggest critic - yourself.
Three months before we left Australia I read an incredible book (just as the idea for starting a travel and digital nomad blog was forming in our heads) which spoke straight into my fears and insecurities. It's called Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown.
Brené's words got under my skin in first sentence and within a few chapters I was compelled to look my fear in the eye and chase authenticity, regardless of the naysayers. She's quoted many times, but the following quote was the one that resonated most with me.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
It was time to jump in the arena and Dare Greatly.
For years, we had dreamed about traveling the world and working as digital nomads. We wanted to experience cultures outside of our middle-class, chilled-out beach lifestyle bubble.
We wanted to immerse ourselves in the thick of other climates, timezones and destinations, to listen to another person's perspective (based on an upbringing poles apart from our own) and have our assumptions challenged.
We wanted to throw ourselves out of our comfort zone and, in doing so, give ourselves and our 2-year-old son an epic global education.
We didn't want to settle for the default.
We felt like our weekly routine was a killer though, lulling us into a false sense of security. Eric hated his corporate job and 2 hour commute. I was in a weird limbo between maternity leave and part-time freelance work, but I knew I could do it from a laptop anywhere in the world!
We had come to a place of desperation a few times before, but lacked the guts to action something.
To make a decision. To start pulling away from our suburban lifestyle, bit by bit.
Then one day, we looked at each other and, because we'd exhausted all of our options, simply dared ourselves to take the leap.
We made a call to a real estate agent, and things snowballed from there. And from the first dare, the biggest dare, we made a bunch of smaller dares - ideas about where we wanted to travel, about how we wanted to live authentically, vulnerably and mindfully. And we called it The Dare List.
Grace is a writer, designer, digital nomad, mum (otherwise known as toddler chaser), slow traveller, wild things appreciator, culture immerser, coffee opportunist... She frequently uses big words (some of which are definitely made up), likes long walks and even longer books, and her focus on wellness in 2017 means she is learning to obey her FitBit. Except when she's glued to her computer!