The ONLY Luxury You Have – Use It Well Before It’s Too Late

Time. I’ve been thinking about how precious it is lately. Shame it’s something we have to think about, rather than just know its truth with every breath.

I’m in my home office racing through my to-do list and I’m feeling light and happy. Inside my head, I”m singing,

“how good is it to have time? Time to do all those incomplete tasks that have been weighing heavily on me for months.”

Incomplete tasks and unfulfilled dreams turn precious time into mind pressure cookers.

We changed our lifestyle recently in order to eliminate that stress and stop wasting time living a life not fully complete.

I don’t think our lives ever can be fully complete. If they are, it usually means we’re dead. We can’t waste time chasing that elusive dream, but we can choose to live a life where the pendulum swings in favour of satisfaction and tranquillity. That doesn’t mean you expect perfection, you’re just happy to be moving on a purposeful journey.

Whatever your path, I know time is of the essence.

Before you have a real excuse

Monument Valley Arizona
Monument Valley, Utah – Image credit: Shutterstock

My parents are visiting at the moment. The other day over lunch, we were talking about their dream to travel to different parts of the USA. My Dad is a John Wayne, Western movies fanatic.

Ever since I can remember – watching the Searchers with him as a little girl – he has dreamed of visiting Monument Valley.

My mother has always dreamed of Martha’s Vineyard and the South, which thankfully, we explored together when we lived in Raleigh and they came to visit.

They’re both retired and travel within Australia a bit. Mum checked off a bucket list dream a few years ago travelling to Santorini. They have the time and some retirement money to travel, but now there’s one thing in their way.


Dad is heading towards mid-seventies and spoke of his concern of making Monument Valley. Those plane trips across the Pacific can be brutal, even for my 39-year-old self.

I’m sad that he’s so close to that dream, but time, in the form of age, might just wipe it away for him.

Waiting until the time is right sadly can mean you wait until it’s too late.

We were heading down that path ourselves before we made that giant leap of faith to travel Australia.

Now’s not the right time. We don’t have enough money. It’s too risky. We’ll wait until later when the timing is better and we have all the ducks in a row.”

What changed that for me?

A health crisis. One that made me believe I was dying of cancer.

That’ll make you wake up real fast.

“I’m not making anything monumental of my life. I can’t even remember the last three years. Apart from my children’s birth, I have no meaningful memories. I have pain and stress and sickness. Is this all I’ve got? What the HELL am I doing waiting? Go now. Take the risk. What have I got to lose?”

So the Universe gave me a flying kick up the butt to change. Despite all the reasons why it shouldn’t work.

I knew the most important reason to make it work.

Because time is short and I have the opportunity now. I’m clever enough to take the risk and make it work.

I believe that is true for everyone.

I spoke to a friend the other day, who is taking the giant leap into that life she knows in her heart and soul to be the one. It doesn’t make sense, but I told her, now is the time for you to leap. All the doors are ajar and they are waiting for you to walk through them. This is your moment, embrace it.

Soon enough, your life will move to the place where you have a very valid reason why you can’t travel or fulfill your dream – your health and your age. Then what?

You must maximize your time and live your life so when you arrive to that end point you have no regrets.

Time is the only luxury

You have a finite amount, and with each minute you spend your bank empties a little more.

Why do most people want more money? It’s not really for riches and status, it’s so they can buy more time.

Time freedom. Time to do what they really want.

Time is a total luxury and we should bathe more in it like we would if we sat in a spa bath with a glass of champagne in a five-star hotel.

O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat - Gold Coast Hinterland, Australia

The question to ask every day is,

How am I spending my time? Is every single decision and action I take each day maximizing my time in order to create circumstances and fulfill desires that make me happy and feel alive?

Anything that does not contribute to this can go.

That includes all unproductive thoughts, anxieties and stresses. I know it’s not as easy as saying, “just move them out of the way.” We haven’t reached the ability to change our lives with a click of our heels three times…yet.

But, you definitely have the power to use your heels to move in a different direction. To embrace new ways of thinking and doing so that you can change the things that suck up your time spent getting dizzy in the hamster wheel.

Start today.

What needs to change? How can I do this? Who can help?

If you don’t feel confident or capable now, how can you grow into the person that is?

Lean on others. I’m doing this more in my own life now. Even though I’ve more time to get things done, my time is still taking up with things that don’t fulfill me.

I want to maximize my time so it’s spent creating and being useful and purposeful, as well as having quality time for my children and my health.

I’m reaching out to more people. To do the things I can’t, to help me free up some space in my head, and work calendar. My friend, Belinda even told me the other day,

“You need to get a cleaner Caroline. You do not need to be doing the housework. You have more important things to do.”

She’s so right. My time is better spent elsewhere. Of course, we can only manage what we can financially.

Do the math. If I spend $x amount for someone to clean my house for half a day each week, can I use that time to invest in myself to earn more money?

Hell, move to Bali! My friend just has and gets a cleaner, a cook, and probably a butler for next to nothing. What does that do to your time and level of life enjoyment?

We’re not taught to think that way, so we waste time doing things we don’t need to be doing because we’ve learned to think we should and its heroic to do so.

Spend your time wisely. It’s dwindling faster than fossil fuels.

Now is always the perfect time

Time to travel
Image via: Shutterstock

We’re so lucky to be living in this era. At a time when there is so much opportunity, the world is smaller, and the internet makes so many more things possible.

It’s easier for us to quench our thirst for travel. Our parents were raised with the culture that said working a normal job to provide for your family was the only path.

Travel was expensive, limited and involved long distances by slow, or multiple planes or even boats. Nomadic living was something ancient tribes and gypsies did. And you certainly wouldn’t be taking your kids out of school and giving the bird to the status quo.

Now we have so much freedom to say,

“fuck the system. I’ll do what I want when I want.”

We can work on our laptops on the best beaches on every corner of the globe, if we want. We can get competitive rates on airfares and use services like housesitting, couch surfing and Airbnb.

We can travel via volunteering programs or working holiday visas. Thousands more do it every year because they see those already doing it and how easy it is.

You don’t need a lot of money, we’ve travelled for over 17 years with little of it. That’s how easy and good we have it.

Yet people are still stuck in the hamster wheel, afraid and feeling empty. They feel like it can’t be for them.

But, it can.

The fears are mostly imagined. I know this because if I can do it you can too.

Look beyond the barriers and think in another way. (You must read this story, in case you missed how Amelia moved from saying, I can’t to having a holiday booked for every month for the rest of this year…and into next.)

I don’t want you to get to the point where you say, I can have my travel dream now, but I think I’m too old to do it.

You’re enough to do it now.

Make use of that time and buy memorable moments with it.

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Time is the ONLY luxury you have. Are you using it well? Inspiration inside!

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27 thoughts on “The ONLY Luxury You Have – Use It Well Before It’s Too Late”

  1. Travel, or at least long term travel, is complex in my household because of health issues. And then at the start of this year I was in a bad situation that impacted on my health and I’ve spent the last month reworking my life – and I think I have that new & good situation now. My goal this year is to stabilise my income and start taking weekends away! I manged one weekend away earlier this year and it was just so good for the soul – even if it was just at night an hour away down the coast at the QT!

    1. Take the travel wherever you can! Staycations are such a brilliant idea and are quite accessible for most people. We’ll be doing a lot more of them around this South East Queensland region.
      It was what really helped us get out of our reverse culture shock when we moved back home in 2010. I think it slips you into that travel space which only lifts your spirit and brings more travel to you. I’m so happy that things are starting to find their groove with you Vanessa!

  2. I love this post. Im a huge believer that time is limited and we need to make the most of it after watching my dad retire at 70 and then to get cancer and deal with that for the last 8 years. I have a holiday account that I put money into every week so I have no excuses not to travel and I don’t have to feel guilty about taking money from other things. Its always good to know Im not the only one that feels this way too!

    1. Yes for sure. I love the commitment that comes with holiday savings accounts. It’s exciting watching it grow knowing that you’ll be able to take a break soon. I’m so sorry to hear of your Dad’s cancer.

  3. It always seems to be death defying situations that push us to action – whether it is to get healthier, work less, travel more, show more love, get insurance. It is difficult to push ourselves to make that leap otherwise. I travel as much as I can but I wish it was more.

    1. I know! I wish it wasn’t like that. I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself this past year to help me appreciate every moment so I don’t need crisis to push me into enjoying it.

  4. Love this! I feel so many people today get brainwashed into believing that there is no way out of the cycle: College, Career, House, Kids, More Career, and Retire. And then it just repeats for the kids. I am extremely thankful that it is starting to be socially acceptable to break the cycle. I often joke with my husband that this is our first retirement. Who knows if I will be physically capable to travel the world when it comes time for my “final” retirement. You are right, the time is now!

    1. Yes! Imagine when the kids are older and the attitude they’ll have about exploring and doing their own thing. It’s such an exciting world for them to not have as many barriers.

      I feel like Ive been retired all my life!

  5. Time really creeps up on you. A few years ago, I started getting these nagging feelings that I would not be able to travel to all the towns I wanted to visit. We Americans don’t get enough time off from work to travel as much as we want.

    Lacking Time, is one of the biggest reasons, I decided to change the course of my family’s lives so we can travel to all the places we want to explore, full-time. Thank you for another reassuring post!

  6. Thanks so much for posting this! I’ve been thinking about time a lot lately. It all began with my dad’s diagnosis of cancer and then my sister. They are both doing very well and completed treatment at this time but it was awful. Now my parents are too ill and old to make the trip to visit us in Brazil. We go to the states twice a year to spend time with them. Moving to Brazil and dealing with sick family members has opened my eyes up to how I have not been making the most of the time I have. So I’m working to remedy that now. I’m paying more attention to where I spend my time and if it is something that matters or not. It’s only taken me 39 years to start. Ha ha! Great read and thanks for sharing!

  7. I love this post. I agree we never find complete and total perfection- but moving towards purposeful lives is so important and just being on that journey is essential. I feel like I got a jolt at 25 (I know that 25 is not old) but it made me realize my 20’s are not infinite and I need to get busy living my life

  8. There really is no excuse not to travel (unless of course one doesn’t want to). So many schemes such as working holidays make it possible to travel on a small budget. I also found that for the first time I could give a detailed account of what I did on any given day of my year abroad. At home every day gets merged together and time is inadvertently wasted. Just my personal opinion though!

  9. Jason Marshall

    Recently came to a similar conclusion though I couldn’t describe it as eloquently as you just did. What hit home for me was the shocking realization of how quickly my son is growing up. How much time do I really get to spend with him? And how much energy do I have left when I do see him? Time.

    Just quit my job. Selling the house, cars and everything else. Wife, son and I start traveling the world in late June. Excited & scared but mostly excited. Alive. — Jason

  10. Yes Yes Yes! This is so true, it seems more and more often these days I hear of people who become ill before they get to realise their ‘retirement dreams’ – it’s just so sad 🙁 I took the leap this year and am in the process of setting up my online business, with the goal of being location independent within the next 2 years. Then there’ll be no stopping me. I think the whole ‘retirement’ mindset needs a huge shake-up. Just Do It Now, don’t put it off until ‘one day’ – coz that day may never come! Thanks Caz, love your work 🙂

  11. Damn good post. I agree 100% with you that time is the thing the really matters. This reminds me of a situation I was in a few years ago. I planned to do a cross country trip across the US in 2008 right after I graduated from college. I wasn’t able to complete it because my friends didn’t have their money together. The years started going by. One day I looked up and it was 2012. I told myself that it was now or never. I’m happy to say that I completed the trip in July 2013. It was the best two weeks of my life. I’m currently working on getting to the point where I can do more travel.

  12. Great post! Too many people take too long to finally make their dreams come true! It can be really hard to commit to making those dreams become a reality when you’ve got responsibilities, but I think if you want that dream to come true you will. I’m glad I listened to older people when I was younger, they’d always tell me, go travel as soon as you finish university, otherwise you never will! 4 years since I graduated and I’m still going!

  13. I agree about time as the most important luxury we have. It is about using it to its full potential, not as a source you have to spend to farm hours in your job. I still don’t understand how can so many people live such boring lives. People even invest their money to bring their work home, or better construct their home inside of their workplace, which is something I cannot grasp. I really appreciate you wrote on this topic, and I hope more people will become enlightened by the fact that more work/consumption does not make their lives more interesting, just more stressful and exhausting.

  14. Tim Ferris in “The 4 hour work week” advocates for taking mini retirements through out your life rather than waiting until you are too old to truly take advantage of your time. The whole book is about taking control of your time to do what really matters. He also advocates that you should spend a month or two in one place rather than frenetically try to fit in everything across multiple destinations in a week.

  15. I must endorse your comments.
    Losing our company after 29 years in business and being bankrupted in the process a few months before my 65th birthday, my wife and I decided to travel. (On no money obviously.) We certainly had no possessions to detain us.
    We sold our personal stuff and swapped my wife’s car for a 30 year old campervan and a trailer, then paid the $50 (or whatever it was) to Aussie House Sitters. The result was totally unexpected, the most fantastic year of our lives and we’ve had a few, that included flying all over Australia for years in our plane, years living aboard our boat and short stays in Italy among lots of others.

    This is must be better, according to her long suffering, because, she says, it’s the first time I’ve been known to say, out of the blue, “I’m happy. I feel really happy”.

    We’ve never been more than a few days between assignments and we’ve loved that part too, free-camping just because we could and amazingly, we are even saving a few dollars each fortnight from the age pension. Of course I’m bloody happy and not an employee in sight.

    In this moment, I’m looking at the magnificent view over the River Derwent and the Tasman Bridge in Hobart enjoying this lovely home where we have been for the last month or so. Homes, farms, even a small business, they all need us and we need them, a marriage of convenience sure, but it suits us all. Now we’re looking forward to our next 6 locations which will bring us out in Bundaberg in January 2016. Maybe overseas next or whatever, it doesn’t matter, our future is mostly behind us now anyway.

    I’ve even had the time to indulge my long-unrequited desire to write, documenting our travels in my humble (and largely undiscovered I guess) blog,

    My advice; be brave, do it now. You have no guaranteed future, that I promise you.
    Dan Hughes

  16. I absolutely love your posts Caroline, thank you. You are such an honest and inspiring writer, it’s a joy to follow you and your husband’s blog. Keep up the amazing work! A few months ago I finally decided to quit my extremely stressful Finance job and haven’t looked back since…and the main reason being? Having time. Finally I feel like I have time to pursue other interests in my life in a full and enjoyable way. I was definitely on the hamster wheel with work and didn’t realise how much it affected all areas of my life until now. It is hard to walk away from something I worked so hard to arrive to (7 years of studying & 8-9 years grafting long hours why oh why?!) but thankfully I finally made the realisation that it’s not for me and I’m enjoying life so much more. Time is a luxury and I’m fully appreciated it now that’s for sure. I can’t wait for our next travels when I can fully appreciate it without worrying about returning to work I don’t enjoy! 🙂

  17. Tours from Ouarzazate

    Yes Yes Yes! This is so true, it seems more and more often these days I hear of people who become ill before they get to realise their ‘retirement dreams’ – it’s just so sad 🙁 I took the leap this year and am in the process of setting up my online business, with the goal of being location independent within the next 2 years. Then there’ll be no stopping me. I think the whole ‘retirement’ mindset needs a huge shake-up. Just Do It Now, don’t put it off until ‘one day’ – coz that day may never come! Thanks Caz, love your work

  18. Very True the most valuable thing we have is time, its time to use it wisely, time to see the world. I’ve always been an avid traveller, this just makes me want to Travel even more, Love the post.

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