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What is success, money or a desired lifestyle? Our society measures success with money. A lifestyle of personal achievement is real success - money is a reward or byproduct.
In 1964, I was living on the beach in Tahiti, building a replica of a Polynesian double hull boat with the goal of sailing it to Hawaii. (See the Liki Tiki story) My work site was next to a Polynesian village of five one-room homes, where most family members slept on the floor. The village shared one outhouse that had no door. The opening faced the main path that allowed one to talk to passer biers while attending to business. Women would take off their pareu and hang it on two hooks to close the opening. There was one shower stall with sheet metal sides about four feet high. Again, one could take a shower while talking to the neighbors. After dark, the teenagers would gather under coconut trees along the beach and sing - I would stand to one side and listen. Every morning a teenage girl set a pot of coffee and a loaf of French bread outside my tent before I got up. I was living a lifestyle I had dreamed of for years.
We all wish we could live a dramatic lifestyle. The difference between wishing and living is taking action to bust through barriers to make a desired lifestyle happen. The following is how I made my escape from a TV watcher to an adventurer in paradise.
At the age of 25, I was living in Oklahoma City trying to start my car in subzero weather, scraping ice from the windshield and driving to work on icy roads. At this time, I was picturing myself on a white sand beach somewhere in the tropical South Pacific. I was doing more than dreaming, I was working hard to overcome barriers that prevented me from making my dream come true. The first barrier was debts. I was living from payday to payday and "owed my sole to the company store" so to speak. Working for creditors was NOT an enjoyable lifestyle. The second barrier was friends’ negative reaction to my ambitions. They implied that it was time to grow up and forget childish dreams. It is next to impossible to carry out dreams in this environment. The third barrier was money, which soon became memory when the first two barriers were conquered.
Living from payday to payday is a lifestyle that is easy to adapt because we can acquire materialistic wealth NOW. It does not matter if we make $20,000 or $100,000 a year, higher income means higher debts. An increasing debt load strengthens the payday-to-payday lifestyle while burying the elusive dream deeper in memory. Our social environment is another factor that controls the persistence needed to fulfill our dream. Success is easier when we have the support of family and friends, but this is not always possible. When barriers become overpowering, most people succumb to being a slave to creditors and adapt to their current social environment. This is the path of least resistance.
Ask yourself; what is it you are seeking, money or lifestyle? Most people want money because they think they can buy a desirable lifestyle, so their primary goal is to wish for more money. Playing the lottery is an example of a wish - it is not possible to learn how to buy a winning lottery ticket. More money is not the result of a wish - it is the result of personal achievement, learning how to increase the value of our services. When I finished my 6-weeks training at hard-hat diving school, the value of my services went from $15 per hour to $45 per hour. Hard-hat diving was also a lifestyle I enjoyed and I was rewarded with money. (wages in 2003 dollars)
When we base our goal on personal achievement with a burning desire, self-discipline and persistence, we will find the money to reach our goal. It is not money first – it is the pursuit of achievement first – elements that cost nothing acquire. We must strive toward achievement with resources available at the time, learning to move ahead with what we have, however limited that may be.
My first goal was to put a halt to creditors controlling my lifestyle by learning to live within my income while paying off debts. My desired lifestyle of adventure would not tolerate debts. The year 1961 was the last time in my life I had a payday-to-payday debt burden. I then had the freedom and opportunity to search for employment in high paying companies and join social groups that supported my dreams of adventure. In my case, I found employment with the Panama Canal Company in Panama as a machinist. Panama is the crossroads of the world for adventures and this became my home base for jungle and sea adventures. The company’s bi-weekly newsletter often had articles about employees’ adventures. Panama’s newspaper, The Star & Herald, often wrote about adventures traveling through Panama. In this adventure charged environment I could tell of my ideas, get support and support others. In 1964, I was living on a beach in Tahiti with two forty-foot dugout canoes, fulfilling the dream of living in the South Sea Islands. Two years earlier, 1962, the opportunity to acquire these huge dugout canoes and ship them to Tahiti was impossible by all standards of reasoning. At that time, I had no debts, but I did not have any money either.
Being debt free and living a dynamic lifestyle sounds great to all of us. The reason most people only wish and do not act is because they have no clear vision of the person they want to be. All they know is they want more money. Without a clear vision, nothing is going to happen. Most people, in their youth, had a vision, but family and friends killed ambitions by making a mockery of their ideas. The pressure to be socially acceptable was strong and they gave up the dream, then the realities of adult responsibility sealed their fate.
For people without a vision, the best way to start is to go back to their youth and dig up old dreams. Start researching and see where they lead.
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