A version of this post appeared a few years ago (has it been that long?) on a website I started called Escape the Predictable Life. Long since abandoned after realizing how hard it is to maintain one somewhat successful blog, let alone two, I wrote some interesting stuff there. And, after one too many people suggested recently how lucky we are to have this life, I thought it was time to once again examine the topic of how you make your own luck in life.
After arriving in Costa Brava we had several conversations with people about the topic of luck, which ended better than prior conversations we have had. Many people just assume that we are lucky to live the life of digital nomads, of professional travelers. That we are blessed to have this life. When people say that, though, it gets on my nerves. It gets on Eric’s nerves even more.
But, a wise woman in Costa Brava suggested you make your own luck, and with that I agree.
The Luck of My Life
When we first left the US and I told people about our life and our plans – to travel the world on our way to a permanent move to Asia – people repeatedly told us that we were “lucky.” Even now, when we tell people that I am a food travel blogger, and therefore a professional eater, I often get an exclamation of the same “you are so lucky.”
Then, the follow up questions creep in.
They ask if we won the lottery? Do we come from money? How can we afford to do this? “Oh, you are so lucky, I just could not do something that crazy.”
Obviously, not having children was one way that we are able to live this life. That was certainly not luck. It was planning. We were able to save up quite a nest egg during my 10 year career as an attorney. That was certainly not luck. It was planning.
And, hard work and dedication enabled me to become a successful attorney at the largest law firm in the world. That, and student loans.
None of these things came to me by luck. Moreover, as I’ve said in the past, and other bloggers have as well, leaving a career to travel the world was not all sunshine and rainbows. We have many more good days than bad, and have a life we enjoy living. But, it is not easy, it takes hard work, and has a monetary return somewhere above pitiful. Yet, I continue to live this life and have no regrets on the decision we have made. But, it is not luck.
We are lucky about two things, though, and for these I am thankful.
Lucky: We Were Born in the Right Country
Being born in the US, we were provided opportunities that most people around the world could not fathom having. But, neither of us grew up in the lap of luxury. We did not “come from money.”
Eric’s father worked for AT&T and Bell Labs building displays. His mother was an immigrant from Ireland who worked as an elevator operator in NYC in the ‘50s. She raised 6 kids, and later worked at the local primary school monitoring kids during lunch and recess.
My birth father abandoned me when I was young. My mother and step-father both left college before graduating. My mother was a restaurant manager, worked at a florist, and was a part-time real estate agent. My step-father was a broker for most of my life. He did well for himself considering his upbringing. For almost 10 years we lived in a big house, they drove nice cars, and it seemed things were going well. Then, things fell apart. He lived beyond his means, did not save, got into some trouble, changed industries, he had to sell the family home. This happened right around the time I was heading to college.
Despite the somewhat humble beginnings, Eric and I were both able to get into college, and pay for it through student loans, a small scholarship, and some help from family. Mostly, we both worked our way through school. I worked full-time through almost all of college, which paid for rent, my car, and sometimes tuition. I was able to go to law school on student loans.
We were able to study, work hard, and succeed regardless of the level of society from which we came, the color of our skin, or the fact that one of us is not a white male.
In this case, we are lucky, merely to have been born in a country that provides these kinds of opportunities.
Lucky: We Want the Same Things Out of Life
We know many couples with different backgrounds that just don’t want the same things out of life. One person may want children, the other does not. One likes to travel, one does not. One likes to try new foods, the other does not. One wants to move overseas, and start a new life, the other does not.
In this way, we are extremely lucky that we want the same things out of life and out of each other. We did not want this particular life when we first started dating. In fact, during our first year together we picked out names for our future children.
After I graduated college, we took our first real trip outside of the US when we visited Eric’s family in Ireland. A few years later we visited Switzerland and Italy when I took a loan out to go on a law school study abroad. Our desire to travel slowly grew, and our desire to have children waned as the years progressed. Over time, our life developed to what it is today.
In this case, we are lucky that we want the same things out of life.
Some people may be happy in their current life. Some people may be craving a change, but may not know how to do it. Be thankful for the luck you have been given, but realize it might take some work and some planning to get to where you want to be – to be happy in life. Its not entirely based on luck.