Growing older and wiser


The alternative title I had for this post was A birthday and a breakdown, but I decided that sounded a little too depressing. Yet, as I sit here and try and think of how to put my feelings into words, I think it may be a more honest way of saying things. You see, last week I turned 32. And hit a wall.

It wasn’t a sudden crash. I have been moving towards this wall for some time now, but this week I finally felt myself pressed up against it with nowhere else to go. I had hoped that I would be able to swerve to one side and bypass the wall without incident, but alas, impact became inevitable.


If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have been working like a crazy person in order to realise my dream of travelling the world. I spent 9 months working 70 hours a week to pay off £15,000 ($24K USD) in debt.

When that had been cleared, I moved on to saving for travel, and decided to take on even more work in order to save £25,000 in 12 months. I don’t know why I chose this amount, but I did… and then I became obsessed over reaching it. Since August last year, I have been working around 84 hours a week.

I have been working 7 days a week.

Somewhere in there I also had to fit in my boyfriend, my friends and family, writing my blog, doing laundry, housework, eating and sleeping. All I was really fitting in was work, with a sprinkling of boyfriend and a dollop of sleep on top. I write my blog while I work nights babysitting and do very little laundry. I wear a lot of dirty clothes.

I knew I was failing to cope, but couldn’t bear to let go of my target. It felt like failure, which is madness as I was the only one setting this crazy goal. Everyone around me has been telling me for months to slow down, but I just couldn’t. My dream grew and grew and I got caught up in my own hype.

So, I carried on.

And on.

And on.

Until… crash.

I don’t know how, but somewhere along the line I turned my beautiful dream into a mission that I was hell bent on completing, at any cost. That cost has been my health, happiness, relationship and overall wellbeing.

I am so tired.

I woke up on the morning of my 32nd birthday and cried. I realised I couldn’t go on. I was being stubborn, stupid and selfish, and instead of moving further towards my dream, things were beginning to fall apart. My life was unravelling before me and I didn’t know how to stop it. So I asked myself:

What are the fundamental elements of this dream I have so avidly been striving for?

To travel and share experiences with the man I love. To learn and grow and feel joyful every day. To get married, become a mother and find a place for myself in the world.

I want to wake up laughing and exude sunshine. I want to be able to say I’m fine when people ask how I am, and actually mean it.

I want to be happy.

None of these things are dependent on the contents of my savings account. What they are dependent on is me and the choices I make. I am the ruler of my own destiny. Duh! So I’m stripping away the noise and distraction and bringing back the joy; the me time, and hoping that it’s not too late to steer myself back on course to happiness.

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
– Rudyard Kipling

Since my birthday I have resigned from my Saturday and Sunday jobs, and my weekends will now be my own again. I want to sleep late and relish in lazy brunches and idle days spent watching movies and simply being me.

I am also cutting back on the amount of babysitting I do, and will now only work four nights a week. I will make time for my relationship, friends and family, laundry and luxuries like long showers and dinners that take more than 5 minutes to prepare.

And most importantly, I am doing away with my RTW budget. We have a departure date of 30th September, and whatever money I have saved by this point will be enough. The pressure is off.

So, what wisdom has being a year older brought me?





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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy or IHeartTravel February 22, 2012 at 17:22

Awesome stuff Hannah, I am glad to you have found time for you and your loved ones. We must not forget our goals, but we must also not let them consume us.
I went through the same kind of situation unfortunately it led to the end of a marriage, and all I had hoped for …at that time.
Fortunately though what came out of it was a happiness that is all mine.
I began to stop worrying about self imposed goals, a persona I thought I had to live up to, and now I just enjoy my life and what it brings.
I don’t stop having goals, but I incorporate them now with my happiness and do not let them overwhelm me, much like you are doing now.
‘You’ time is some of the best time, I hope this new found time brings you happiness and relaxation…until your big trip
Best !


Hannah February 22, 2012 at 21:59

Thank you Jeremy, your words are always so genuine and uplifting. I haven’t yet mastered the art of controlling the expectations I have of myself, but it is my next goal. I’ll try not to get too obsessed over this one though! I’m so glad that you were able to come through a similar experience, and find your story deeply inspiring 🙂


D.J. - The World of Deej February 22, 2012 at 17:29

It can be a tough thing to come to terms with, but at least from my own experience, taking inventory of the goals you’ve set and making tweaks can be liberating. I’ve found at times that my blog and travel have taken over everything else, to the point that I wanted to just quit altogether. There has to be a balance, at least for me, and I think you’re finding the same. And yeah, I just turned 31 and feel really wise:)


Hannah February 23, 2012 at 21:24

Yes, balance. I let that slip for a while there… I’m trying to tip the scales back to the centre again now though. It is another important lesson learnt – I don’t always have to be pushing myself to achieve something. Simply being who I am is allowed to be enough. I’m so glad you have been able to master the art of balance, and look forward to doing the same 🙂


Patricia GW February 22, 2012 at 18:26

Oh Hannah, you’re such a dear and so positive online, you know you have that ability to exude sunshine! The wall you hit is a nasty shock to the system. You’ve been pushing yourself so hard for so long, but the dream of a better life has taken over what really makes up a better life. It’s really hard to let go of a goal once it’s been on your mind for so long, but you’re not losing anything! Whatever you have saved up will be enough, no matter what, because it’s a positive number towards your dreams.
I’m so sorry to hear your birthday was so disheartening; it has turned into a blessing in disguise because now you can let go of the abstract savings amount, take some of the burden off your shoulders, and take back time to just be you and enjoy time with the man you love. You’ve always had the right attitude! As a friend of mine like to say, “You don’t need to come up with a new plan, just tweak it 5%.” You’re on the path to traveling, marrying, and setting up that foundation just like you dreamed… all you have to do now is modify your plan 5% so that you release some of the pressure and make that goal sweeter on the way to reaching it. I wish I could give you a big hug!


Hannah February 23, 2012 at 21:29

Thank you so much for your lovely comment Patricia, you are always such a wonderful source of wisdom and inspiration. I love what you said about tweaking my plan by 5% – it makes it so much easier to deal with. It’s less like change, and more or a minor improvement! It is hard to let go of a goal, but it would be much harder to let go of my health and happiness, so I just have to think of things that way and learn to be kinder to myself 🙂


Kim February 22, 2012 at 20:44

Hannah! I totally get this. I am such a goal setter and then I run like a wild woman with my eyes on the prize, refusing to let anything stop me. I forget about today and just focus, 100%, on the thing I want to achieve. It’s a trait I love and hate about myself and something I am always trying to get a hold of.
I am glad you are slowing down and remembering what life is all about TODAY. I know you never forgot it, you were just trying to get where you want to be as fast as possible. When you do that, other things are sacrificed. It sounds like you’ve reached a good balance.
Happy birthday to you 🙂


Hannah February 23, 2012 at 21:32

Haha! Yes, I am SO like that too, and also have a love/hate relationship with this side of myself. I am never satisfied unless I am conjuring up dream upon dream and then nudging the goalposts further and further back in pursuit of my goals. It’s time to forget about the goalposts and just enjoy the journey 🙂


Sarah Somewhere February 23, 2012 at 05:09

What wonderful words, Hannah, you have such a beautiful way of expressing your inner voice and it truly resonates with me. “Life on life’s terms” is a phrase that helps me when I feel like I am trying to control too much at the expence of my, and other’s happiness. I love that Kipling quote, especially the part about triumph and disaster being imposters!!! That is so powerful. You are already a success, already an inspiration, already enough. We all are. Traveling the world won’t make you a better, happier person, as you already have everything you need inside of you. Just claim what is yours.


Hannah February 23, 2012 at 21:34

“Just claim what is yours” – I love that Sarah. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Your words mean so much to me xxx


Carmel February 23, 2012 at 22:10

I want you to head on over to Kim’s FB page for So Many Places and read the quote I just posted on there this morning. Apparently you’re part of our crazy perfectionist-running-yourself-into-a-wall club too! I didn’t work THAT many hours before, but I’ve been there. I exhaust my counselor with the number of things I’m involved in. To me, I’ve slowed down a LOT in the past couple years. And I’m trying to see it as a gift rather than being bored. I figured, what will be the use of taking a year off to experience the world if I’m in a mindset of constantly needing to be busy and occupied? NOW is the time to start slowing down, enjoying life, and being present. Never have I been so aware of every minute of my life as I am right now for reasons you know.
I’m happy for you that you’re giving yourself a break and taking time to look around. Happy birthday my dear! I know this year will bring you great things.


Hannah February 28, 2012 at 23:02

Haha! Yes, should we start a club?! Time absolutely is a gift, as you sadly know all too well my dear. I will make sure I embrace this time, and make the most of every second of it. As I slowly claw my time back again, I can literally feel my soul reawakening. It’s like I was in some self-imposed autopilot mode, and it has taken a lot to break out of this mindset, but I will continue to relinquish these limitations, and accept that whatever I have will always be enough 🙂


Savvy Scot February 23, 2012 at 22:33

Good. For. You. – this is not meant sarcastically; I mean it sincerely.
This post gave me inspiration to write my latest ‘Dealing with Obsession’ – You may have just made the best decision ever. If you had carried on would you still know your other half, would you still share the same dream? Remember it’s not about the destination – it’s the journey. This doesn’t just mean life in general, but also intermediate goals! Good for you – you should be proud 😀


Hannah February 28, 2012 at 22:54

I had actually just read your post before you commented, and am honoured that my post inspired you to write it. To be honest, I dread to think how things might have turned out had I continued down this misguided path. It is frightening how caught up in it all I became, but it feel wonderful to be in control of my life again 🙂


Nomadic Samuel February 24, 2012 at 02:25

I really enjoyed reading this post. I can relate quite well to what you are going through now. I’m honestly working over 100 hours a week right now (at a job and on online projects) to manifest a dream of mine down the road. I’ve hit the wall a few times but I’m continuing to press forward. I think by removing that stressful goal of needing X amount of money is a wise decision.


Hannah February 28, 2012 at 22:46

Wow, thank you Samuel, I really appreciate your comment. And I thought working 84 hours a week was bad! Man, I don’t know how you are managing 100 hours, but I wish you all the luck in the world in pursuing your dream. Your blogs are a huge source of inspiration to me, so I am sure that whatever comes from this hard work, it will be amazing 🙂


Bethany ~ twoOregonians February 24, 2012 at 05:41

Hannah, I applaud you so much for making the bold move to cut out unreasonable things in your life… I know that I’m so much the way you describe: driven and goal oriented. I remember working my way through my landscape architecture degree, working late nights, night after night, barely keeping alive and barely keeping my relationships intact. At a certain point, the facts all stare us in the face, and we have to make touch choices. In a related way, I had to let go of some of our RTW budget goals, too. We knew we had a departure date that we were going to keep, and we knew that the ultimate point of travel meant more to us than the low-daily-dollar amounts. So, we’re on the road, living as best we can according to the dreams, the desires, and the dollars. It will all work out… Enjoy the coming weekend. I wish you a tasty brunch with toast and orange juice and a splash of champagne 🙂


Hannah February 28, 2012 at 22:41

“Barely keeping alive and barely keeping my relationships intact”… yes, that’s exactly how I have been feeling. It’s so good to hear from someone who has felt the same way; thank you so much for your lovely comment Bethany. I’m glad you were able to let go of your budget goals too – I have realised now that these self imposed limits are the complete antithesis of my dream. I want a life of freedom and joy, and there definitely needs to be more champagne and orange juice in there too 🙂


Susan @ Travel Junkette February 24, 2012 at 10:07

What a brave and beautiful post, Hannah! Bravo for recognizing the changes you needed in your life, and for having the courage to implement them. Whenever my best friend and I ask each other for advice, our answer is always (well, almost always) “Do what makes you happy.” So glad you’re doing it!


Hannah February 28, 2012 at 22:31

“Do what makes you happy.” You are so right! It’s crazy how easy it was to forget that and get lost in misguided goals. I really appreciate you reading 🙂


John | Married (with Debt) February 24, 2012 at 19:46

Very cool post about dreams getting in the way of dreams. Glad you were able to unplug and get back to what it is you were truly after.


Hannah February 28, 2012 at 22:29

Thank you John. It’s been a long time coming, but I definitely feel back on track now, and see my dream with renewed vitality once more 🙂


Meg | One Love Meg February 29, 2012 at 14:20

Been there. My boyfriend and I are about to set out on a RTW trip as well. For the last two years we have been saving our pennies and nipping away at our debt. We, unfortunately, still have student loan debt that we are going to reunite with when we come home. I just started one last job here in FL to get a little extra cash, but the jobs consists of me working in a wine bar until 2am, 5 days a week. It’s revisiting my college days all over again. At times I feel like I am only getting older, and only getting more tired. Sometimes its hard to stay positive, but once you begin to live out your dream- all the love and positivity comes back. Keep your head up! 🙂


Hannah March 11, 2012 at 20:57

Hi Meg, thank you for your comment. It’s always great to hear from someone following a similar path. I have just checked out your blog and am really excited to follow along as you begin your RTW adventure. You are so right, once we start actually travelling, all this hard work will be worth it. I wish you all the best 🙂


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