The Ultimate Smackdown

The Ultimate Smackdown

December 14, 2015

Over the past few years, Pete and I have had several short conversations that go like this:

Me: “Hey! I have a new idea!”


Rightly so (and it has happened in the reverse as well). Not all of our ideas are great of course, and really, when would we have the time to pursue them anyways? We feel like we’ve struck a great balance between work and fun, between the blog and the side biz and writing books and traveling and more. But it doesn’t leave much room for much else, at least not without some sacrifice of the fun.

That is why the most dangerous threat to this life we’ve created for ourselves is a New Idea that could upset our balance. And that means that the second most dangerous threat comes in the form of well-run conferences which inherently stimulate inspiration. Those damn things only spur on more New Ideas.

A couple of weeks ago, after attending The Social Summit in Calgary, and after a lunch where Pete and I tossed around many what ifs, I posed this question on my personal Facebook page.

Smackdown FB post

My intention was to have an open discussion on the ultimate smackdown between two sentiments that we routinely find at odds in this lifestyle: freedom and ambition.

The responses were surprisingly varied and some, in all honesty, irked me. I partially blame my broad wording for several comments that detracted from the conversation that I had hoped to have. No, posing these questions does not indicate that Pete and I have a myriad of deeper issues to address. I just want to talk about freedom and ambition. No, I’m not crying out because I need “roots” or I am suffering from blogger burnout. I just want to talk about freedom and ambition. (This post, written earlier this year, still holds very true for how we feel today. And if anyone thinks that they know us better than we know ourselves, think again.)

^^ The above qualifies as a total digression to this post. However, I needed to say it.

But back to the matter at hand, because I still just want to talk about freedom and ambition.

We find ourselves at a bit of a crossroads. Our last two years of blog and business have not come without their ups and downs, but overall have been good to us. We’re sustaining, living comfortably, and even saving a wee bit. We could conceivably continue this path for years to come but two issues have us thinking otherwise: (1) the concern of long-term sustainability and doing more to smooth out the “downs” and (2) some of the New Ideas are starting to nag at us with force.

The second point is at the forefront of our minds. In the broadest terms, over six year ago we “ditched it all for a life of freedom”, but that doesn’t mean we also dispelled the core of who we are. And ingrained in both of us are some very important qualities that come into play here: the need to be purposeful, the desire to be challenged, and the drive to work hard.

So when it feels like there are mountains of opportunity just outside of our grasp, those are hard to ignore. And we are well aware that if left long enough, others may step in. However, pursuing them will also mean a sacrifice of the very fun and spontaneous travel that we also desire – it will likely mean reducing our globetrotting to globecrawling. Not a terrible sacrifice, and maybe not a forever one either (I am a big fan of outsourcing once things are working), but it will mean a sacrifice of time and an investment of cash nonetheless.

Is it a detraction from the original mandate we made when we set out on this journey? Maybe, at least a bit. We aren’t fixin’ to be filthy rich by any means, but we do want to be sure that we and ours are taken care of. And the question of “what could we REALLY do if we put our minds to it?” evokes a challenge that does excite us both.

We are blessed, of course, to have the freedom to make these decisions in the first place. And at the end of the day, it comes down to estimating our future and having deep discussions on the values we hold. Easy, right?

But even if we don’t pursue any of the New Ideas after this soul searching, it’s still worth checking in from time to time. (Just maybe not so vaguely on my personal Facebook page again.)


P.S. Want more behind-the-scenes looks at our lives? Check out more of our In Real Time posts.


  1. Oh I hear you! I have the same converstions with myself all the time ( lacking a Pete). I’m vry much favouring the stuff it, lets have fun option. Life is too short.

    1. Oh man, that would be a tough conversation on your own, I imagine! We’ve been following the “stuff it” strategy for many years now…it is a good one. 🙂

  2. Slowing down travel to pursue ideas (something you two are also passionate about) doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling altogether. You can have your freedom and your ambition. I say have your cake and eat it too. You both are smart enough to be able to chase your dreams of both travel and business.

  3. I firmly believe that when “New Ideas” won’t let go of you, there’s a reason for it. Have you read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert? She talks about the time sensitivity of big ideas. She discusses how you can have a brilliant idea, but if you don’t commit to it, devote yourself to it, it might take on a mind of its own and go find someone who will devote the time to it. The question is… would you be okay if you didn’t do it, and someone else did?

    1. I’m glad you brought up that book – I’ve heard so much about it that I think it’s time to invest the time to read it! And that question is a good one. It’s a thinker!

    1. Betsy & Warren are living my life! Well, at least some of it. I hope to see them next year – part of my 2016 plans!

    2. Ownership is super scary for us non-committal people! We’re definitely not there yet, but more than one month in a spot might be warranted. Maybe in Spain, too. 🙂

  4. It’s a great conundrum to have! I hope you come up with the best answer, and balance, that works for you both.

    PS: I vote B or C. 🙂

  5. “We are blessed, of course, to have the freedom to make these decisions in the first place.”

    I think you nailed it. So what if you derail for a little bit. You have a life where you have the ability to make choices. Isn’t that the point?

    1. Absolutely Kristi, and thanks for that reminder. We’ll still have that freedom down the road if one isn’t working to again switch for the other. Change can still be scary, even for us sometimes. 😉

  6. ‘Tis your blogs which inspire me to fulfill my lifelong desire to travel. You have experienced failures and successes and attained worldwide recognition. Just keep eating cake, one bite at a time. Try a new flavor and always keep your favorite within reach.

      1. I am honored! Please do not hesitate to use the cake simile.

        I have house sitting ebook and have started plugging away getting references. Have had only one HS gig recently and will concentrate on attaining a few local within 4 to 6 hours drive from San Francisco area. Meanwhile saving shekels for second trip over the pond to Ireland and then hopefully to Scotland next year. My first trip was to Russia–Moscow and Krasnoyarsk, Siberia in 1997 which was over the North Pole. I have a 35-page photo journal of quite the experience!

        Do you still use any of the HS organizations listed in your book? Any recommendations for which to use for the UK/Europe marketplace?

  7. Isn’t it SO FREAKING COOL that you can answer the pull of either urge, to stay for a while or wander a little farther? Or to mix it up? Or to choose something in between? The hardest part is making the decision. But you get to make the decision!

    A life of adventure by definition means you’ll change it up regularly, so good luck to you both as you decide which of your excellent options to take. An embarrassment of riches, I tell you. You should be ashamed of yourselves. 😉

  8. This post rings so true for my wife and I. We’re lucky (and thrifty) enough to travel for some time, but we are also very ambitious and want more out of life than just fun. We have conversations like you just described all the time. Too many options, not enough time.

  9. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I know the feeling well. The biggest problem with new ideas (and god knows we all have plenty of them) is that they require time and focus. It can be hard to know what to sacrifice in order to get them off the ground. However, sometimes it’s the ones that require the most sacrifice that are the most rewarding. It’s just making that leap to start that is so difficult.

    1. Thanks Michael! It may sound quite bizarre to say – given that Pete and I live the lifestyle that we do – but we are actually pretty risk averse when it comes to business. We’ve tended to not get into anything until we’re really really sure it’s a solid idea. So far so good, but this next one could be a BIG leap. But like you said, maybe just the most rewarding!

  10. You CAN have it all, it just gets a little harder to stay in balance when you get those “new ideas” going. After one year and 13 countries, I was feeling a little travel burnout last month, but not ready to go back to the states (I sold everything so don’t have a “home” to go home to anyway), so have opted to come back to Thailand for 3 to 6 months – cheap cost of living, lots of sun, and many, many people living the nomadic lifestyle, so very inspiring. Digital nomads are on the rise, and it’s fun to see what ideas people come up with, which of course spark more of your own. It’s also a good way to see what is and isn’t working for people. I see lots of people getting their new ideas up and running, and hiring other digital nomads to take care of tech details, correspondence, etc. leaving them free to still have some fun, or implement even more new ideas. (Have to be willing to let go of some of the control, though, lol, easier said than done). Good luck!!

  11. Dalene, I think it comes to us all… that feeling of shaking it up and changing the plan. After five years I am thinking that perhaps it is time to get a base and travel from there 3 or 4 months a year but still have time to work on projects and do some writing. Of course, that assumes that I can stay in one place that long. It is a test!

    In Chiang Mai for the winter….Barbara Weibel will be joining me in a couple of weeks. Happy Holidays!

  12. I have to laugh at the Facebook experience – I’ve been there – you think you’re posting an innocent enough question and then you get a bunch of annoying responses!

    A few of the travel bloggers I follow seem to be slowing down and settling in a bit, while I’ve just put to paper my plan to quit my job and travel. I’m sure it’s cyclical…the nice thing is, travel will ALWAYS be there waiting for you….

  13. What are we, politicians? Bloggers can’t change their mind? “You voted one way six years ago and now you have you keep going.” PFFFFFT.

    Good on ya for evaluating new options. My personal experience is taking route A and being very glad that I did. After traveling for a full year, I decided to build a business foundation that would allow for more stability, control, and ability to save for the future.

    After all, days will likely come where perhaps I won’t feel like doing a damn thing but getting up and walking on the beach and reading a book. Starting from scratch, five years later I can do whatever I please running things remotely with a light hand on the wheel.

    With the brand and skills you’ve painstakingly built in the last six years, taking a year to work hard on it has the potential for big rewards. You’ve had lots of adventures; now you can enjoy the challenge of a different one – and then get back to travel more on your terms.

    Whatever you choose, I’m sure you’ll think it through and do it well. Good luck, and thanks for sharing your journey!

    1. Haha, love it Dakota! Thanks for your comment. We’ve actually, after much discussion, decided on both A & B. It’s going to be a tough and stressful year, but we’re so excited about the prospect of what we can build. 🙂

  14. I liked what you said about your lifestyle not dispelling the core of who you are.

    I have been back to the US now for a year after our 18 month RTW trip and I’m still waiting for my ambition to kick back in! I have an idea for my virtual business and my husband went back to work full time but I can’t seem to get going. Grateful to have choices though.

    I love when bloggers post about what they struggling with because it usually seems to be something I am or need to be thinking about.

  15. Also LOLz “No, posing these questions does not indicate that Pete and I have a myriad of deeper issues to address. I just want to talk about freedom and ambition. No, I’m not crying out because I need “roots” or I am suffering from blogger burnout. I just want to talk about freedom and ambition.”

    Internet peeps. I didn’t see these responses as i was taking a break from Facebook, but humans crack me up with their fears and projections. I totally understand having to get that out, at 33 I’m still just like trying to find my own voice and my own path because I’ve struggled with the voices of my FAMILY and some FRIENDS trying to tell me what I need to be doing and how I need to be doing it for so long, on top of that society sort of laying out a common path that they don’t even know they feel obligated to follow, and I get that their projections are just their own fears, but man when i look at their lives and how effing (sorry) miserable they are trying to play the current game of capitalism, what I hear is “do this, be miserable and “safe” just like me.” But they aren’t even safe. And why would you ever tell someone you love to be as miserable as you are? That they’re WRONG for not wanting to be as miserable as you are? That’s borderline emotional abuse.

    ANYWAY. That’s not say that all people with full time jobs and a stable home are miserable, they are not, my close peeps who try to box me in are.

    The more I pay attention to myself and block out the other voices I want first and foremost travel and education (currently applying to library science and bookbinding degrees and bookbinding is my new love love love, the Thailand thing may have been a passing whim, if you remember) and second, when, if I ever get around to starting a “career” whether teaching or binding or archives or novel writing, I want to take that job on the road, which is how I’ve done education up to this point as it is. And I just don’t care. Let me pursue six or seven master’s degrees and three PhDs across the world intermixed with long stays at ashrams or Buddhist monasteries. Like, who cares how I do life as long as I can afford myself and am fulfilled? That’s right, absolutely no one should care but me.

    Sorry for that. Just related to that bit so much. I’m sorry you had to take all that crap from readers. Bad enough we get it from some folks we know in real life. Keep doing you. Glad the combo A/B worked out, from what I’ve researched about this next bit is it’ll be a lot of work for you guys now, but things’ll smooth themselves out, like a well oiled machine, as they say.

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