While I’m on the road, I’m featuring guest posts! Today’s comes from my friend Mrs. WoW from Waffles on Wednesday. I love this post because it reminds us that money is never the end goal. However, figuring out exactly what that big goal isn’t always easy…
The other day I sat on top of the world.
I had seen it numerous times before: pictures, websites, social media, but nothing beat seeing Machu Picchu in person.
As I sat there in utter amazement, I took a moment to reflect:
- How did I get here?
- What does this mean?
- What is next?
Let’s back up. Although I can argue that all my life events led me here, I’ll jump to 8 years ago, where this story starts to come to life.
So, how did I get here?
The Work Part
While most people in the FIRE world are in software, I surprisingly am not. In 2009, I became an occupational therapist. My specialty is working with at-risk children, birth to three years of age, helping them learn necessary skills to meet their developmental milestones. My usual bag o’ tricks include balls, tunnels, play dough, pool noodles, piggy banks, you know, super technical medical equipment (computers not required). It’s really rewarding (and fun) minus getting bit, kicked, hit, sneezed/puked/pooped on and my hair pulled, but from what I hear from Mr. Wow, that part isn’t much different from an office job.
After some rotations on the traditional employee hamster wheel, I started my own private practice. This decision opened up a world of new opportunities and allowed me to shape my career how I wanted. Unlike many in the FIRE community, I genuinely love my profession.
The Travel Part
But there’s more to life than work, right? When timing allowed us to take six weeks for our honeymoon, Mr. Wow and I found ourselves all over Europe. I quickly discovered that travel and I were BFFs. What was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, actually became the catalyst for my life plan.
What does this mean?
The Passion Part
I began thinking…
I love my job and travel, what if I combine them?
Not long after, I met an OT student who was headed to Ecuador to do some volunteer work and needed a mentor. I jumped at the chance! Before I knew it, I was on my way to Ibarra, Ecuador.
The city was stunning and the experience was unreal! I spent 2 weeks working with children with special needs, helping at a community center for young adults with moderate-severe physical disabilities, and coordinating an Olympic day for a Senior Center. Everything about this opportunity was life changing! (Side note: The first week of Chautauqua is in the same town where I volunteered so I will be back this year! Insert big smiley face here!)
From there, the OTraveling continued. Next, I found myself in the beautiful country of Iceland. While there, I met up with some local occupational therapists and visited some outpatient clinics, a primary school, and the only university that teaches occupational therapy in Iceland. I had the best time! It definitely beat having my dry suit leak while SCUBA diving in Silfra, BRRRRRRR!!!
While at one of the clinics in Iceland, one experience really stood out to me. I noticed maps throughout the facility. In one room, there was a big world map covering the entire wall.
What’s with all the maps?
One staff member replied, “It’s to remind us of the bigger picture. It’s not just one person or one family. It’s about helping entire communities. We’re all in this together!”
The bigger picture? I like that!
Wait, what is my bigger picture?
This past June, I headed back to South America. This time landing in Perú for a medical mission. I worked alongside doctors, surgeons, nurses, speech therapists, pharmacy students, social workers, chiropractors, acupuncturists, as well as some awesome translators and general volunteers. The days were long and tiresome, but the work was extremely rewarding (and Maracuya Sours definitely kept me going!!). All in all, our team saw over 1,000 patients during our week long mission. It was incredible!
Now, since joining the FIRE community, I’ve learned the importance of having a plan. A plan for how to achieve FIRE but also, and more importantly, a plan for what do to beyond, once it is achieved. Mr. Wow has been on my case for months and was constantly frustrated for my lack of a plan. Trust me, it’s not fun having your husband bombard you with questions weekly about what I wanted to do when we reached FI.
Sitting on the top of Machu Picchu and reminiscing about my amazing week with the mission in Perú, I finally discovered my bigger picture! I wasted no time, promptly turning to Mr.Wow to let him in on my new revelation.
Because of my experiences in Europe, Ecuador, Iceland and now Perú, my plan has solidified. For all the crazy things we have done in pursuit of FIRE, like cutting our phone bill and cable, cooking at home, driving old cars, continuing to rent instead of buying a house, maxing out our 401ks & IRAs, and putting every last cent into savings and investments, I now have a reason for it.
It feels good to finally have a plan and one that I am extremely excited about. Working towards and achieving financial independence will afford me the opportunity to combine my passion for travel and occupational therapy. I actually already have a few more medical missions lined up for 2018. Who knows, maybe I can talk Mr.Wow into doing a mission with me one of these days.
What’s your plan once you cross the finish line? What’s your bigger picture?
Join the 10s who have signed up already!
Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.
*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.