In February, I interviewed my friend Rebecca about relocating her life and business to Playa del Carmen, a coastal town along the Yucatán Peninsula. A technical glitch (I recorded the call) resulted in a delay of the blog post. I connected with her a few weeks later to fill in some of the holes from losing the recording. And then I sat on the interview for nearly two months.
It hit me last week why I’ve delayed sharing Rebecca’s story. Uprooting your life from Portland to Mexico takes courage, guts, and fortitude. She represents an intrepid and indomitable spirit that I desperately want but don’t currently possess. While I would choose a different location, I want to follow in Rebecca’s path. Sharing her story forces me to reevaluate my own life. It was easier to let the weeks go by sitting on her interview than confront what’s holding me back from taking a similar leap.
But Rebecca’s story needs to be shared as it provides a motivational blueprint for people (like me) who have a burning desire to do the extraordinary.
Rebecca has now been in Mexico for about six weeks and I’m happy to report she’s settled into her new home and is having the time of her life. She’s making friends, scuba diving, exploring her new town, learning Spanish (including swear words), and of course, doing a little work. Most importantly, she has the lifestyle she wants. Her interview has been updated to reflect the delay in posting her story.
How’s it going since you arrived in Mexico?
It’s going great! There have been days when I’ve been homesick and lonely, but I know it’s part of the experience. I’ve started to find and create an inner circle of super great friends. I feel like I’m settling in which is a little scary—will I go back to Portland someday? Who knows? My favorite experience so far has been visiting Cielo in Cozumel by boat. Cielo means sky in Spanish; the water is crystal blue, which is how it gets its name. The water is shallow so you can easily dive to the bottom, which is littered with giant starfish. A stunning place and a must do for anyone visiting the area.
How are you balancing work and playtime?
This has been the easiest part so far. I’m a planner and I like feeling productive so I get my work done first and play after. I usually work at home in the morning until mid-day and then hit the beach or meet friends. Working abroad has proved simple after getting settled and my clients all seem happy—some even want to visit. I beat my billable goal last month, so financially things are working just fine. It’s a vacation town here so I get interesting reactions from people when I tell them I can’t go out or do something because of work. It’s just a different mentality for a lot of people.
What was your inspiration for moving to Mexico?
I created my business to give myself what I call “time freedom” – the time to travel and have extraordinary experiences. I wanted to be my own boss. For a while it was working great, but then my business started growing and my freedom and personal time started to wane. I found myself climbing a different ladder than I wanted.
I’m in a unique point in my life and don’t have the typical obstacles that typically prevent people from making big changes —I’m not married, don’t have children, and don’t own a home—I knew I’d regret not taking a leap and moving to Mexico. Another motivation was to learn Spanish and advance in my scuba diving skills (I recently got my Open Water certification).
Was there a turning point that made you decide to go for it?
I was already in a period of transition. A year ago, I went with a friend on a business visioning retreat. My business was growing and as a result, I was adding more clients and staff—all things that would be gratifying for any business owner. But the problem was I wasn’t satisfied with where my business was headed. I realized growing my business wasn’t my goal—my goal was to create time freedom and have unique experiences. Growth locked me into “owning a job,” so I started downsizing.
I created space, but wasn’t sure what do with it, but then I went to Mexico in December 2016 with my cousin, which set in motion my desire for an adventure. I’ve always wanted to travel more and see what I’m capable of, so I decided to give my remote accounting business a trial run. My only obstacle was making the decision to do it and buying a plane ticket. I knew I’d be foolish to not take advantage of the opportunity. Change is always going to be scary, but it doesn’t get any easier than what I already have set up for myself. Since my business was already remote I knew I could serve my customers just as easy from a Mexican paradise.
How did you make it a reality and prepare for the move?
I like to do things in bite size chunks. Once I made the decision to move to Mexico, I bought a plane ticket and start telling people. I made a list of everything I needed to do and in what order. The deadlines gave me accountability and certainly buying a ticket did!
I reached out to people on Airbnb, Facebook, and Couchsurfing. I made new connections and asked a lot of questions. Part of the “letting go process” was doing things in stages because I knew it would be very dramatic if I changed everything all at once (moving out of my apartment, selling my car, getting rid of stuff, etc). Having patience to do things in small doses was the key.
I sold most my furniture and those things that take up space in a home. Memorabilia and other treasures are being stored at my mom’s house. My plants are “on loan” with a friend. I thought it would be harder to let most of my personal belongings go, but as I was clearing out my apartment, I realized it’s experiences and relationships that bring me the most satisfaction, not things.
Did you have any doubts or fears?
Certainty. I woke up in the middle of the night many times questioning my decision and thinking about all of the things that could go wrong. You can live life carefully or with wild abandonment, either way you are going to experience pain. I find this liberating. The point is things are going to be scary, stressful, and maybe even painful regardless of what you do. I don’t want to be paralyzed by fear—I want to live the life I dreamed. Having a sense of humor helps, as inevitably there will be bumps along the way.
Advice for someone who wants to follow in your path?
Just do it – it’s never going to be the right time, the stars will never fully align, so if you want to do something you have to go for it and trust it will all work out and take the first step to make it happen. You’re never going to know what’s possible until you start doing it. A lot of people get stuck on making the right decision; however, it’s not about always making the right decision, it’s about making a decision. There’s power in making a decision.
Through making a decision you learn what is right for you and what’s not. Everything is impermanent, so it doesn’t need to be scary. I’ve learned you have to start doing something to know what will work and have doors open for you. The universe rewards action and doors won’t open unless you make the first move.
Have you done something similar to Rebecca – or want to? Share your story in the comments section.