“He still had some doubts about the decision he had made. But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision he is really diving into the strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

“When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”
– From The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

I just finished reading The Alchemist.  I first read it five years ago, but I don’t think I was ready for it yet.  This time was different (Thanks Arielle).

If you haven’t read it, it’s an incredible story of a boy who embarks on a journey to live his dream, pursue a treasure, and fulfill his Personal Legend.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is searching for a sense of purpose or trying to fulfill their own “Personal Legend.”  It is a very timely book for me as I embark on a journey of my own and spend the next seven months traveling and living around Europe.  As I reflect on the months leading up to this trip, there are many lessons in the book that resonate with me.  In particular, the power of having a strong desire to accomplish something and wholeheartedly making the decision to accomplish it.

Back in January, my friend Mike and I decided that June 1, 2012 would be a monumental day.  We decided that on this day, we would begin a long-term trip somewhere in the world.  We’d take a break from work, eliminate as many unnecessary responsibilities as possible, and take a journey of a lifetime.  As I write this post today, I’m proud to say: we’re really doing it.  At 6:00am on June 1 I boarded a plane to New York to kick-off a seven month long-term trip abroad.

In the past, I had set milestone dates to take a trip like this, but rarely did it come to fruition.  What was different this time?  And more broadly, why do we so often fall short of achieving our desires?

The reason I think Mike and I were successful in turning our desire of taking a long-term trip into a reality can be credited to a strong Desire + making a Decision.  We took something we deeply wanted to do, and with conviction, decided we would do it.  It sounds simple and obvious.  While it may be easy to explain, I think it’s much tougher to execute.

So many times, people talk about things they want to do.  They talk about their desires.  They want to learn a new language, learn how to cook, or travel to an exotic new place. But when they talk about these things, they lack conviction. Without conviction, these desires are just a wish, a hope, or a dream.

Instead of merely wanting to take a long-term trip abroad, we made the decision to take the trip.  We set a date.  We treated it as a to-do.  And when “live in Europe for 6 months” is spoken with the same certainty as “pick up eggs from the grocery store”, it’s much more likely to happen.

Once a desire becomes a decision, real magic happens.  When I made the decision in January, I did not know how I would execute on a June 1 departure date.  I didn’t have enough money saved, did not know what I would do about my job, or how I deal with things like a lease and furniture.  But somehow, someway, everything worked out.  I was able to save more money than anticipated, was granted a leave of absence from IBM, and freed myself of physical ties that prevented me from leaving my apartment in Chicago.  The “universe conspired” to help me achieve this trip.  People and situations entered my life to help make this a reality.

It’s a shame to have a desire with no decision or plan to accomplish it. The only thing worse is not having a desire worth achieving in the first place.

So dream big.  Decide to accomplish your dreams.  And watch as the magic unfolds.

A big THANK YOU to everyone who subscribed!   The response I received was incredible.  In my next post I’ll talk about my past few days in Reykjavik, Iceland and include some pictures.


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