A Beard Across America: A First Successful Dreamline

This Excerpt from #TFoTG – Essays from A Beard Across America

Along the way, I heard a few different reactions to the cross country road trip I took from St. Petersburg, Florida to Tacoma, Washington ranging from “It must be nice to be rich” to “you must have saved up for a long time”, neither of which were true. I’m going to share with you how I was able to travel 4900 miles over a four-week span, visiting 18 cities in 10 different states.

About 8 months ago, I read a book called The 4-Hour Work Week (4HWW) by Tim Ferris. The book focuses on lifestyle design and uses a formula to be able to live the life that you want. The formula can be summed up in the following acronym: DEAL. Definition, Elimination, Automation and Liberation. Here’s how I used Definition, Elimination and Liberation to make this road trip happen and how I discovered an idea for a muse (Automation) along the way.

Part of defining what you want in life is to stop thinking of “work” as what you do. Think about when someone asks you, “What do you do?”, our first reaction is to respond with what our occupation is. This is built into American society as a social norm that when you graduate college (or high school in my case), you get a full-time job and that’s “what you do”. Throwing that mindset out the window is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things one person can do in their life. Once you’re able to change your mindset of what you want to do in life, besides work, it’s time to start creating a dreamline*. The 4HWW suggests creating a six-month timeline and a 12-month timeline, I only created a six-month. A dreamline should include 3 different categories, things you dream of having, being and doing. Creating a dreamline is the first big step to making your short term dreams come true. It makes them more tangible and realistic, even if they seem impossible to obtain. It allows you to take the first step.

I decided I wanted to travel from my hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida to visit my brother who was stationed at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington. Instead of simply flying to Tacoma, I wanted to take four-weeks to see the country and experience America, some of it on my own and some of it with my girlfriend. The time came for me to eliminate all the excess and distractions in my professional life to make this dream become reality.

*To learn more about dreamlines, visit this linkhttp://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/lifestyle-costing

On a day-to-day basis, we generally deal with a lot of noise, whether it be emails, social networks or co-workers. This leads to long “work” days of responding to emails, answering questions that don’t require an answer and plenty of distractions to avoid the work that needs to be done. Luckily, I work at home, by myself, so it’s rather simple for me to eliminate a lot of the noise and focus on project work. There are plenty of tips in the 4HWW that can help people with office jobs on eliminating the excess and focusing on what you’re there to do. It would be like taking this trip and stopping at a gas station to get a cup of ice, then 20 minutes later, stopping again to get food. Getting the cup of ice doesn’t take longer than 45-60 seconds, but pulling off the exit, stopping the car, going into the gas station, getting the ice, paying for it, getting back in your car, pulling onto the highway and getting back up to speed takes quite some time. Logically, when people travel, they consolidate everything they need to do into one stop: gas, bathroom, drinks, food, etc. Why wouldn’t somebody do this at their day job? Or in life?

The way I consolidated the “noise” in my day was to first disable all the push notifications of social networks and emails. Then I created an auto responder for my incoming emails that alerted people I would be answering emails twice a day at 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM EST. If the matter couldn’t wait until 12 or 4 (in most cases it can), then I provided a phone number for them to contact me at. I also used that time to check Facebook and Twitter if I wanted to. This increased my productivity by allowing me to focus on my work and removed distractions by giving people the ability to make decisions on their own about what they were contacting me about.

Now that I was more effective with work and communication, I could use my spare time to plan my trip and the other things on my dreamline. The value that I provided the client stayed the same, but I got things done in half the time.

I know it might seem easy for me to liberate myself since I work at home, but that’s not always the case. Plenty of people that work from home end up working more hours than they would in an office because they have even more distractions than they would in an office. Once you’ve eliminated distraction, whether in the office or at home, you’ll find that you’ll provide enough value** for the day that you can be done working by as early as 1:00 PM, then check some emails, and use the rest of the day to plan for the things on your dreamline.

In my case, after I determined I wanted to visit my brother and take a cross-country road trip, I had to start planning what destinations I wanted to visit. This step was crucial as it made the trip more definite instead of just something I was talking about doing. The first month into my dreamline, while defining the cities I wanted to visit, I learned of a site called CouchSurfing*** which I could use to meet locals in the cities I would visit and also have a free place to stay. Through CouchSurfing, I was recommended to a few hostels (which I would not have considered at first, but highly recommend now) and soon after found out about AirBnB****, which was similar to CouchSurfing, but rooms were rented. My next step was to contact whom I would be staying with in each city, booking my hotel for Las Vegas and figuring out the part of the trip my girlfriend would be joining me on. From there, I was ready to embark on my trip. I didn’t have every single detail planned out, but I had enough set in stone that I could figure out the rest along the way.

**As an independent contractor, I’ve set my income up to be based on value provided instead of an hourly rate. It’s similar to a fixed bid project, but is a set weekly amount that is paid for an agreed upon “value” provided. It allows for truly iterative design and development work and focuses on progress rather than time sheets.

To recap, I planned a trip from the East Coast to the West Coast in 6 months. I Defined what I wanted to do, Eliminated the excess noise of my work day to focus on what was important, found a way to Automate passive income along the way and Liberated myself by putting plans into action and continuously pushing forward until the day I hit Tacoma.

I will be writing about my experiences in each city and posting them periodically. For a full listing of the cities I visited, check out this link:http://www.tylergoelz.com/trip/2013/america/


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