When is the right time to follow your dreams?

“Right now!”

That’s what everyone will tell you. They’ll urge you to follow your dreams right now. They’ll ask you what you’re waiting for. They’ll remind you that you only have one life to live. They will yell “carpe diem” and pitch every other encouraging one-liner that they have in their back pocket… while they sit back and watch.

If following your dreams involve traveling the world and experiencing amazing things, I have news for you: There is never a perfect time to set off on this journey. Sure, there are times that are more right than others, but you will always need to make sacrifices, some painful, some invigorating, and some a mixture of both. Most likely you will be leaving family, friends, a relationship, a job, and/or potential future plans revolving all of the above. It can be both exciting and traumatic.

Equally exciting and traumatic are the so-called little things you may not think of, that you will also be giving up, like your routine. You will be leaving your local watering hole, you favorite pizza spot, your Friday night movie nights, your coffee outings with your coworkers that always turn into therapeutic bitching sessions, and your Sunday morning jogs in the park. You will be hitting the pause button (or escape button, depending on your perspective) and embarking on a soul-reviving journey into the unknown. So, when is the right time to do this?

Coming from somebody who has left the country twice for extended periods of time, and is in the midst of plotting the third, I can tell you this: There is no correct time to take the plunge and live out your dreams. But, if you are anything like me, you will start to feel a slight stirring in your soul. This starts as a small irritation, but eventually transforms into a loud agonizing roar that keeps you awake at night. It will seep into your pores, as well as every other aspect of your life and create havoc. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have reached this point as I have, my advice to you is this: Act. Plan and execute. Follow your dreams.

Something I have realized through all of my wandering, waiting, obsessing and analyzing is this: You don’t have to wait for everything to fall apart before you allow yourself to leave. You don’t have to wait until you lose your job or grow dissatisfied with it. You don’t have to wait until your relationship crumbles. You don’t have to wait until all of your family and friends approve of your plans. You don’t have to wait until you are unhappy. You don’t have to wait for somebody to excuse you from the life you have built. You don’t have to wait for everything to fall apart in order to begin a new adventure and follow your dreams.

Waiting for all the stars to align, waiting for a sign from God, waiting, waiting waiting… Will lead you to the grave with a basket of “what if’s”.

My feeling is this: sometimes we have to make really tough choices, and inevitably people get hurt. It’s a fact of life. But this is your life, your canvas to paint. Don’t sit around and wait for somebody to give you permission and set you free. Set yourself free. As tough as it may be, and as painful as some of the sacrifices can be along the way, you must keep your focus on the bigger picture and do what is right for you. If you don’t, in what life do you plan to do it?

If things are meant to be with whatever you left behind, they will still be there after you take care of what is aching in your heart. Love does not just dissipate into thin air. If the love is real and strong, it will still be there. If it isn’t, at least you found out while pursuing your dreams.

And remember, nothing is permanent. And you can always come home.

The best time to follow your dreams? Listen to your heart. Listen to the stirring in your soul. Believe in yourself. Make a move.

Be brave, my friend. You will be proud of yourself. And so will the people who love you.

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