J. Dawg Journeys

Finding the Good Life

Living the Good Life

J. Dawg living The Good Life

“You’re SO lucky!”.  “I’m envious of what you’re doing”.   “I want to do that some day”.  These are some of the responses I receive when talking to friends or acquaintances about what I’ve been doing these days.  I would like respond back with – “Well, you could be doing this” but I know the answer sounds too easy.  It’s how I see things and perhaps not how they may see or be able to do things.

I can’t remember who said it (a family member or a friend), but in one recent conversation a comment was made that I was “living The Good Life”.  The words sort of stuck in my brain. For several days they rattled around in my cranium searching for a response. It started a conversation in my head.  “Yeah, I guess maybe I am living The Good Life.  So what?”  “But what the hell is The Good Life?  And how did I find It”?  The answers came out on a note pad one night and maybe they form a better come back to my friends when they marvel at my lifestyle.

How Did I Find The Good Life?
  • I had a dream – If you want to live a dream life you gotta have a dream.  It was my dream to do what I’m currently doing.  In my early 20’s, I saw it, envisioned it, and knew exactly what I wanted to do.
  • I had a plan – I worked most of my adult life to provide for my family.  But I also was working to retire early so I could live my dream.  Savings, lifestyle, finances, mortgages, college expenses were all planned so I could retire in my early 50’s.
  • I was lucky – Luck was a factor in terms of my family, my job, my health.  I found a great life partner in my wife and have two great sons.  I also was lucky (and my family) not to suffer any major calamities.  I’m very fortunate that things worked out to support my plan.
  • I did not succumb to fear – At age 54, I quit my job with its six figure salary and five-figure bonus.  I left behind a big office, personal secretary, stock options, stock grants, company paid health insurance, 401k match, and all the security provided by a big corporate job.  It would have been so easy to stay.  But it’s the things you don’t do that you later regret.  So, I took the leap to live my dream.
  • I was motivated by fear – I had been a long distance cyclist for numerous years.  At age 54, I was still riding like a 20-year-old, but my body was starting to show serious signs of wear from all the miles. Constant muscle pulls, Injures that wouldn’t heal, and body parts that kept getting injured.  It hit me one day that my body was wearing out.  It was telling me that if I wanted to enjoy an active retirement, I needed to stop working and not wait. It was this fear (that my body wasn’t going to wait) that made me take the leap.
  • I dared to venture out – There’s a Chinese saying that the first step of a journey is the most difficult.  Handing over that $70K check for my first RV and venturing out came with a lot of stress and anxiety.  Sitting in the RV dealers office, I felt a little buyers remorse creeping up. But I remember saying to my self – “this is what you dreamed of and planned for”.  I bought the rig and drove off the lot with a smile on my face that lasted for weeks.
  • I adjusted – Two years into retirement and living my dream, I came down with some major illnesses.  It was serious stuff that kept me grounded for over a year.  But I got thru it. Came out different and adjusted my dream to do the things I could.  And I got over what I could no longer do and embraced what I could still do.
What is The Good Life?

The answer to this one has to be different for each person.  My feeling is that it’s based on a person’s values.  Live a life that focuses your time supporting your values.  If a person highly values their friends and companions, then the good life may be spending lots of time with friends.  If someone values accomplishment and being outdoors, it may be hiking tall mountains.  For someone who values giving back and helping others, it may be volunteering at a charity.  For someone who values their work, it could be making a difference or personal recognition.

For me, some of my values are family, new experiences, being in the moment, accomplishment, and learning.  My Good Life includes things like being able to travel and enjoy new places with my family, meeting new people, experiencing new places that put you in the moment and take your breath away, learning new things.

What My Good Life Looks Like.

Seeing Monument Valley with my son

IMG_2351a.jpgHiking into the Maroon Bells in Colorado

DSC01401b.jpgDancing with a friend at the Rhythm and Roots Festival

Rhythm and Roots Festival

Seeing the look on my wife’s face encountering the wild horses on Assateague Island.

Assateague Island

Eating a favorite meal at a favorite place.

Feista Mexicana

Learning how fly a stunt Kite.

St. Joseph PeninsulaGoing to the Daytona 500 with my Brother

Daytona-Finish-Line.jpgI relish doing these things now.  Its how I spend most of my time and you can see more of it in my blog posts.

It was scary taking that leap when I gave up my job.  But, I don’t miss it at all.  And, I’m so glad I didn’t wait to do these things.  Having suffered from illnesses, loosing friends to early deaths, and seeing family members suffer just reinforces the knowledge that this life is so short and fleeting.  It’s best to do the things you enjoy or dream of doing Now.

The Good Life is out there for everyone.  I’m just glad I was able to find mine and be able to experience it.

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9 thoughts on “Finding the Good Life

  1. Janice

    Enjoyed your story. I am on my first long trip w/out my Hubble. My GF agreed to come with me and at day 10 out of 34 we are having a fabulous time seeing FL! I retired at 55. I love traveling/camping. Hard part is leaving 2 baby grandsons. Ocala National forest has wonderful springs! Kayaking and snorkeling!
    Happy Travels!

  2. Roger Bohnke

    Great perspective. I just retired yesterday. Wife will next June. The pieces of the dream are falling into place!

  3. Sheryl Osgood

    I have enjoyed reading and following your blog for about 6 months now. I have not retired, but traveled for 1.5 years as a travel therapist. Recently, a family crisis brought me back to the hometown, but I really appreciated this post, as it reminds me that I should be able to get back out onto the road someday. I travel with my husband and our two 70# dogs ~ which can be an adventure in itself. Congrats on the recovery and being able to continue your dream !
    Happy Adventuring !!

  4. Colton

    Thanks so much for spreading the good word! I have a unique question. If you could go back say 20-25 years and have the opportunity to take a year off before you had children and spend a year on the road RVing, would you? I’ve worked hard the last 17 years. I don’t have a family. I met a special woman. I’m considering hitting the road with her now vs. later. It’s within my means. I wouldn’t be over-extending myself, but obviously an RV is a depreciating asset. I’m very practical and business minded. It doesn’t seem like the best investment as I’d probably need to rebuild certain aspects of my business if I left, however I think it could change my perspective on life. I’d be grateful for your insight. I’m going to continuing reading your posts. Thank you again!

    1. J. Dawg Post author

      Thanks for reading my blog. Wow – what a great question! One’s life is many times chartered by the things we say Yes to. It’s also about taking risks. For me, before I had kids, I was very content and focused on starting a career. I loved the type of work I was doing and didn’t even think about taking time off to travel. If I could go back and re-do things, I won’t change much at all. It was my dream to get the work stuff out of the way, build financial independence, and then retire early while I was still young enough to be active. I retired at 54 and I sort of wish I had done it at 52, but no sooner than that. If you have a desire to travel now, it will probably gnaw at you until you “scratch that itch” so to speak. Just be aware – RV travel is like kissing a beautiful woman. Once you start, it will be tough to stop. Good luck.
      J. Dawg