What is your greatest personal fear? I am not talking about spiders, heights, or drowning. I am talking about the big… huge picture kinds of things. My biggest fear in life is not doing the things I could have done when I was physically and mentally capable of doing them. While, of course, you can accomplish great things even at an advanced age, it is not a risk I want to take. I already feel sleepy when I am out too late, get winded in hikes that have steep slopes, and find that I no longer had the photographic memory I used to possess in my high school and college years. The clock is ticking and the time is now.
Upon paying off my debt of 42K in under three years, and surprisingly still having a big surplus, I had a difficult decision to make. There were huge job opportunities in both America and Korea. I could have also gone back to school to do a masters, or taken that money and invested it. There is one thing that none of those options would have given me though. The biggest perk, which is also probably the most expensive one to afford, is time.
For these reasons, I am taking 6 months off from working. While some people have called it excessive, unnecessary, and flat out lazy, I feel that personal growth is not something you should ignore. Working on yourself is what makes a person tick, what makes a life worth living. While in the past, I’ve definitely had vacation time, I always felt like I should use it to travel, since time was so limited. I never stopped to explore some of the other stuff that makes me happy.
What To Do With All of This ‘Time?’
While I definitely have used my free time effectively over the years (more on this later), there are a few things I want to accomplish:
1) Learn to Swim… Well
About two years ago, I was certified as an Open Water scuba diver. As fancy as that sounds, I still have trouble with even the most basic swimming techniques. I can’t tread water and swimming for over 30 meters makes me incredibly tired. While I do eventually get it, I have had been asked repeatedly, “Are you sure you’re certified?” which is embarrassing to say the least. I start a swimming class in 2 days time.
2) Work Out and Eat Well
While this is something anyone can do, I found it extremely hard when I was working 10 hours a day. The working out part was definitely doable in the past, but took up so much time, I couldn’t do much of anything else. When I started this blog, and found it to be much more enjoyable than running on a treadmill, let’s just say I didn’t rush to get my gym membership renewed. This is probably going to be the hardest thing to accomplish in 6 months, but I want to give it an honest shot.
3) Study Korean
My first year in Korea, people used to ask how long I had been here. I used to love this question because not only did I understand it, they were also usually impressed when I responded ‘3 months’ or even ‘6 months’ in Korean. My skill level after only 7 months in the country was pretty impressive with about 1000 words of vocabulary. My skill level after over four years is, honestly, quite pathetic. I know about twice as much as 7 month Julio, despite having 5 times the time. While I would like to blame it on too much work, other hobbies, or having a girlfriend, the sad fact is, I became satisfied and complacent. I am dedicating a lot of my time these days in studying Korean, and hope to be able to hold at least a decent conversation by this time next year.
4) This Travel Blog
Compared to some of the horror stories I have read about, my outside of the internet friends have generally had good things to say about my blog and travel experiences in general. It is mostly me who is unsatisfied with the blog so far. It is still missing key parts I’d like, runs too slow, doesn’t have a banner or a logo, etc etc etc. I will continue to focus on the content first (as I have read one of my favorite travel bloggers Anil always advices) and foremost, but when I do have time, I want to take care of the cosmetic stuff too.
5) Travel Farther and Longer than Before
Despite all of the wonderful places I have visited, my longest trip has been for 3 weeks in Italy. Sure, I have lived in Korea for years, and Mexico for months at a time, but always had a home base. Looking for my next accommodations, coming across my next World Heritage Site, and meeting wonderful locals is something I am looking forward to. I just booked a one way ticket to Bangkok for July 2nd, and should be in New Zealand sometime late August. It is going to be one hell of a ride… and if all goes well, the Maldives will be in the mix. You heard correctly, the freeken Maldives. While nothing is for sure yes, I sure can dream!
Have you ever taken time off to handle some of your greatest dreams? Share them on the comments below!