To take the risk necessary to chase dreams (in my opinion) you have to have a very healthy relationship with money. Here’s how I came to my thinking about it:
Money never, ever meant anything to me through this entire process.
I always just needed enough to continue… As much or as little as that meant. There were times in the very beginning of trying to find myself where I hardly even had that. When I went out to California the 2nd time, I left St. Louis with $900 to my name. On my drive across the country, I stopped in Fort Collins, Colorado and stayed too long… and had way too much fun.
I had $300 left and was trying to figure out what to do (it was enough money to make it back home - and enough money to make it to California, as long as I got a job quickly and slept in my car). I remember I was sitting on the roof of a house in Fort Collins, with my friend Jeff. While talking about this, we both realized that going West would be the point-of-no-return zone and that it was probably worth the risk since I could always sleep in my car. (My parents are incredible people and rightfully would not give me money to do this - as I was making these decisions on my own).
So I decided to go West.
I remember being in Reno, NV with $32 to my name. I talked to a friend who’s brother was in Northern California, with some work I could do to make some extra money. He graciously let me work and stay on a couch with him while I tried to save as much as I could. I left his home with about $200 and headed south to Los Angeles. I made it to LA with $27 to my name and my sister graciously let me crash on her couch while I tried to find a job. I worked every day to try and find a job and finally found a bartending job in Santa Monica, and never looked back from there.
Through hard work, I would end up getting my dream offer (of being an agent in LA with my own desk) just 8 months after getting that job.
And, I ended up turning it down.
Because I had gotten to know myself so well through so much suffering on that path… I knew beyond any doubt that LA was not the city for me. And that I’d never be genuinely happy there. I wanted close relationships and family in my life and LA was just too complex and expensive to really see a balanced life in.
Also, I had learned how little money I needed to continue chasing the life I truly wanted - so the money part of the offer played no part on my decision making process. When you’re used to sleeping in a car and eating ramen on the side of a highway… Having a room in an apartment in Playa Del Rey feels like the Ritz-Carlton.
When I knew I didn’t want to live in LA any longer, I talked to some friends that had moved down to the Baja and they told me to come visit.
It was an easy decision and I ended up moving to Mexico for a total of over 2 years.
The takeaway from this is:
When you’re that broke, you really develop an appreciation for money as a tool. There’s no part of your thinking that is about buying stuff you don’t need. You deeply respect money as a tool in being able to buy you the things you truly need: food, water, comfort. When you make it out of tough financial situations like that, you never forget.
And every bit as importantly, you develop incredible drive and ambition during times of suffering. By stripping away comfort during times when you’re broke, you fully understand that you are in charge of digging yourself out of that hole. You can stay in the bottom of that hole all you want - or you can fight hard every day to claw your way back out of it. And through that process, you grow deep self-confidence and humility.
Now, for the rest of my days, as life becomes more financially secure, I will never be able to forget that money is simply a tool.
I don’t even have a choice in that.
And now, I focus on a simple life and use all the money I have left to try my hardest to make my dreams come true.
This gave me the opportunity to self-publish this book myself, and take the full cost of it (which was still a BIG risk). Something I am very grateful for. Normal publishing contracts are 90% the publisher - 10% the author/artist. So you have to give up 90% of your life’s work to be able to see a book come to fruition… Which was simply not an option for me.
To make dreams come true, there will almost always be a big financial side. Perseverance is necessary and, the longer it takes, the more money it costs. But if you have saved, worked, suffered, prepared and lived simply enough… You can use that tool to continue chasing that horizon.