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In my early 20s, my biggest goal was to travel the world. I bought books on how to work your way around the globe, watched Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door, devoured travel books and magazines, and planned and replanned the routes I would take.
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Fresh out of college, I didn’t have any money, so I knew however I managed to travel, I was going to have to earn money along the way. I even bought a book from an ad for $59 that promised to land me a job on cruise ships. I read it cover to cover, but I didn’t apply for any cruise-ship jobs. Not one.
Because I was waiting. I was waiting to have more money in my pocket. I was waiting to be in a relationship, so we could go together. I was waiting until I was thinner.
Mostly, I was waiting until I was thinner.
I waited and waited, worked four jobs, saved, dieted and waited some more.
I waited my way through six years until, while cleaning off my bookshelf, I saw that book I had spent $59 dollars on and never actually used to apply for a cruise-ship job.
In that moment, looking back at six years of lost time, during which I had accomplished literally nothing while holding my breath and waiting for perfection, I realized that waiting wasn’t going to make it happen: Doing it was what would make it happen.
I didn’t need to be wealthier, thinner or better to go after my dream. I just needed to take some action.
Related: Stop Planning and Take Action
“I applied for every job I was remotely qualified for”
So, I pulled that book off the shelf, polished up my resume and started applying. I was on fire and completely unstoppable. I applied for every job I was remotely qualified for with any cruise line that might possibly be hiring.
It’s probably worth noting that I had never been on a cruise at this point, so I had very little information on what the jobs actually entailed. I had no idea how poorly suited I would be for 80% of the jobs I applied for, like a room steward or deck hand. But the actual job seemed almost irrelevant at the time; I was laser-focused on working on a ship and finally seeing the world, and I was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen.
A few weeks and dozens of applications later, I received a phone call from Crystal Cruises for an interview. Unfortunately, they told me, a phone interview wasn’t enough; they needed to see me in person, and they were in Los Angeles. I, however, was in Canada.
I didn’t have much (or any) money, but I managed to scrape together enough for the flight and a hotel for a few nights, and I enlisted my best friend to make the trip with me. As two small-town prairie girls, we didn’t know what we were in for, but we were up for an adventure.
Related: The Best Time to Take Action Is Now
“I decided to make the most of the opportunity”
As the flight descended into LAX, we watched in awe and marveled at the sea of lights that seemed to go on into eternity.
We arrived well after midnight at the hotel that we had booked, sight unseen. If we weren’t already intimidated by the enormous, unknown city in the dark, the bullet-proof glass between us and the check-in desk wasn’t helping us feel more comfortable.
The room was about as plush as the lobby suggested it would be, but we were tired and overwhelmed and fell right to sleep. We were sure that things would look better in the daylight.
We were wrong.
Although daylight did not improve the hotel room, it did give us the chance to get out and explore the city, and walk to the first of my two job interviews.
When I had secured the original interview and booked our flights, I had decided to make the most of the opportunity and started relentlessly calling another cruise line based in LA for an interview for the dates that I would be in town.
For anyone who didn’t know me in my 20s, I need to explain that this kind of aggressive, proactive behavior wasn’t normal for me. I was then, and am still, a hard-core introvert. I often have to leave parties when they get too “peopley,” and I spend more time than anyone should creating and acting out made-up scenarios in my head. So, when I say all of this was out of my comfort zone, it’s beyond an understatement.
“Action turned into more action”
But you know what? Action turned into more action, and both of those interviews turned into job offers. I accepted a position working in the gift shops on board a Princess Cruise ship just a few days later. My dream to travel the world was about to be realized.
In less than a month, I was landing in Italy on Easter Sunday to join my first ship for a six-month contract at sea. That contract, my first of many, would take me from Egypt to Odessa, Morocco to Venice, all the way around Europe to the British Isles, Iceland and Greenland. It was the most incredible six months of my life to that point.
That decision to take action led to a ten-year career on cruise ships as a speaker and TV presenter, traveling the world, earning my first million dollars, meeting and losing the love of my life, buying my first home and, ultimately, making me into an entrepreneur.
And it all happened because I stopped waiting until I had it all figured out.
I still don’t have it all figured out.
Spoiler alert: I don’t think I’ll ever have it all figured out.
I still look back at those years in my 20s as lost years, wasted time, and I vow to myself that there will be no more waiting. Nothing needs to be perfect. I don’t need to be perfect to get on with the doing and go after my dreams.
So, what are you waiting for? What time are you losing while you wait? What beautiful, messy, incredible things are you missing because you aren’t taking the leap and getting on with the doing?
Your dreams are ready for you if you are ready for them.
Take a deep breath and start the doing.