If you’re looking to live the life of your dreams, you might want to acknowledge the idea of The American Dream and all the added pressures that come with it.
Reading the book Happier Than A Billionaire; about a couple who quits their successful business careers to pursue a low-stress life abroad, was a pivotal turning point for AirTreks travel planner Aaron Meir and his wife Rachael, who were both climbing “the ladder to success.”
Rachael had just received her doctorate in psychology from the PGSP- Stanford consortium and was a director in the health and wellness department at Denver Health. She was a prestigious professional at a prestigious hospital. Aaron was high up in the wholesale wine industry, working for the largest wholesaler in Colorado. He managed the business side of one of the wine portfolios for the company.
“I was living The American Dream. I was paid very well, I had some of the most amazing wines from all over the world. The company sent me to wine country in South America, Napa, Sonoma, Washington, and Oregon to visit vineyards. There were a lot of positives to the job, but at the end of the day, The American Dream comes with a price. Expectations and stakes were very high. My wife and I had a check-in with ourselves, and that’s when we realized that our health issues and overall unhappiness were due to stress and burnout. Our life was completely out of balance.” – Aaron
When they took the time to evaluate the life they were living and society’s skewed view of “success”, they came to realize that the conveyor belt wasn’t for them and little by little they began to step off it.
First step; in their late 20s, Aaron and Rachael made the decision not to have children. This would be a hard pill to swallow for their parents. Knowing this and the struggles that others like them would face in breaking the news to their families, Rachael wrote to a message board about it. It just so happened that a producer from the Dr. Phil show was on the same message board looking for guests for their show about the topic and contacted them. Aaron and Rachael accepted the invite and appeared as guests on Dr. Phil.
“The whole experience was completely surreal. The fact that making the decision not to have kids at a young age was so radical to millions of people, demonstrates how much power The American Dream has over our society.” -Aaron – Modern Family: No Kids Dr. Phil Show Article
The news of no kids came as a shock to their families. They were in complete disbelief. No kids? What was wrong with them?
Just as everyone got adjusted to Aaron and Rachael’s big announcement, they hit their families with another big one. They decided to quit their jobs and move to Mexico to explore a new way of life away from the American Dream.
Aaron and Rachael’s decision to live abroad was not made in haste. Rachael, being a big dreamer, would have excitedly jumped at the opportunity to move abroad straight after reading Happier Than A Billionaire. Aaron, the logistics guy, needed time to assemble spreadsheets, crunch numbers, and research what life would be like for them in Mexico.
Between the dreamer and the logical thinker, they finally made it happen. They got to a comfortable place where they could go and do everything on their own terms, feeling financially and emotionally secure.
“Our demanding careers were the real impetus that made us both want to move. We were both severely stressed, we had health issues, and so we quit our successful jobs and said enough is enough. And then we continued to figure it out as we went.” -Aaron
The great philosopher Alan Watts summarizes the mythical dream best:
“So often we think that happiness is a destination, when I make a million dollars or when I buy a new car I will be happy. Rather we need to be happy with what we have, and not postpone our happiness thinking we will get the time to focus on joy later…Too many people take it for granted that purpose of our life is what is handed down to us, that is school, college, work, or family. Life has to be balanced – it’s not just about making a living, but actually living.
The worst outcome is if we aim only at building “success.” We’ll get all the way down the line and realize we’ve missed the point the whole way along; life was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or dance while the music was being played.”
And sing and dance they did. What started as a trial run, has turned into years of living abroad in Mexico, currently in Puerto Vallarta. Looking back on their 20s and where they are now, success has a whole new definition for them.
“Success, for us, is living the life that you want to live on your terms and also doing it with a sense of responsibility of looking to the future as well. It’s one thing to say, I’m going to get up and buy everything I want to buy and eat everything I want to eat. You’re always going to have ramifications down the road if you’re not careful. I think finding a balance is the key to living a long happy ‘successful’ life. One you can really feel good about.” – Aaron
Aaron will be the first to tell you that life abroad is not a simple guarantee of happiness.
It comes with its own set of struggles, like navigating a new language, assimilating with a culture different from their own. Aaron is a punctual person and he’s had to adjust to the slow-moving nature of Puerto Vallarta.
There has been a big learning curve to feeling at home abroad. But the struggles themselves have been hard-earned joy. Their life is now one they wouldn’t trade for anything.
“Everyone thinks that you have to go to college, you get a job, you wear a suit to work every day, you work your way up, and then you try to get promoted as much as you can, and then you realize that you’ve joined the rat race and it’s hard to imagine any other way of doing life.” -Aaron
Maybe this article will be a pivotal point to consider a path away from the American Dream. Or maybe it will take stress and health issues, like it did for Aaron and Rachel to reevaluate and hit reset. Whatever and whenever it hits you, Aaron is an AirTreks champion in travel and is available to help anyone navigate their own happy success story in life.