Life Planning: Too Busy to Dream

Life Planning: Too Busy to Dream


Too Busy to Dream © Konstantin Sutyagin - Fotolia.comLife Planning:  Too Busy to Dream

It was midnight on Sunday.  Fourteen hours at my computer, mostly doing calculations and detailed contract writing.  That crazy pace had held for the whole week, and my weekly article wasn’t even written.  I knew I had 4-5 hours ahead of me to write, edit, format and upload the article to be in my readers’ mailboxes by Monday morning.

My business partner said, “Stop it, Sharon.  You’ve pushed yourself all week.  This is a heart attack in the making.”

He made me promise I’d go to bed and get some sleep.

I sent a note out to readers saying I had fallen down on the job, after writing every scheduled week for over two years.  And I went to bed.


Among the flow of emails I received in response to that note, there was one from Robin.  This is all it said:

“Not to worry Sharon…now we know you’re human!!!”

That comment stayed with me all week.  The heavy workload continued, leaving little time to interact with Facebook friends or do much of anything on social media.  It felt a little like withdrawal.  “Internet withdrawal.”  (Have you ever felt that way?)

But being disconnected from “virtual life” allowed me to be more connected to “real life” and to the dreams that keep flitting in and out of my consciousness.  I had been too busy to dream.

My friend Susan recently asked me: “I wonder if you have considered living in another country, with lower cost of living. Having lived in so many countries and different cultures, have you decided on the United States as the best place, long-term?

Funny thing.  That’s one of the dreams.

Too Busy to Dream, © Rick Henzel - Fotolia.comIn the early 1990s, I drove all around Ecuador with a friend.  From the highlands to the Amazon region in the east, then back across towards the west in a 4-wheel drive Jeep.  Late one night we pulled into a beautiful town.  It’s name?  Cuenca.  Several magical days later, we had to get back on the road to complete the itinerary, winding our way to the port of Guayaquil to meet our boat to the Galapagos.

The most striking memory, the one that has held its magic all these years, is Cuenca.

Fast forward nearly 20 years to a lunch in Florida with a friend who was asking my advice about downsizing in the face of the chaos brought on by the economic tsunami of 2008.  We talked about how people could reduce the footprint of their home in order to be able to weather bad economic times.  (As I had done ten years before in the face of my own financial tsunami.)   And we spoke of moving abroad, something I’ve always intended to do, especially since I was raised in Latin America and feel so at home there.

A few months later, Deborah called to tell me she was moving her family to Ecuador.  To Cuenca.  And for the past year or more, I’ve watched “virtually’ as she, her husband and their teenage daughter have flourished in that new environment.

Then last week I read a newsletter from a woman who coaches people to help build their businesses with a book.  I’ve never met her.  But Lynne Klippel was announcing that she was just moving into the new home she and her husband had built … near Cuenca.

To answer Susan’s question, I feel that moving abroad is a perfect way to live a full, vibrant life on less-than-abundant resources.  Costs are dramatically lower, especially in certain countries and certain regions within them.  And more and more Americans, Canadians and Europeans are living — carefully — on Social Security alone.  Add to that any pensions or investments, and the quality of life rises rapidly.

Is it for everybody?  No.  Deciding whether and where to go requires research, visits and tons of personal introspection.  The two best online resources I know are International Living and Live and Invest Overseas.  Subscribe to them and see what appeals to you.  Be brutally honest with yourself about what’s important to you.  Visit for a long enough period of time to feel what everyday living is like.  And be ready to change your mind—about the place or about moving at all.

Most of all, do not go somewhere hoping to replicate where you live today.  Go, instead, looking for a place where you feel comfortable, safe and ready to see each day as an adventure, as an opportunity to grow.

So what did my work overload do for me?  It caused me to stop in my tracks and be truthful about how I have been spending my time.  It allowed me to revisit my priorities and to dance with my dreams.

I’ll let you know if the Cuenca dream is one that comes true.

Meanwhile, let us know in the Comments section below if you’ve been too busy to dream recently.  Or have you been pretty good about leaving yourself enough time to dance with the possibilities life offers you?


Bio: Sharon O’Day fixes financial lives. She is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can have more money, less stress and more joy. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategies, they take actions that lead to their ultimate goal: financial peace of mind.

  • Susan Schiller

    “Dance with your dreams” – I love that, Sharon… and it speaks of more adventures to come. I’m glad you have a wise business partner who values you more than the work completed. What a coincidence (which I don’t really believe in) that two of your friends are moving to the very place that touched your heart!

    Thank you for writing this, and for answering my question, as you always do! I’m asking God to bless the contracts you’re writing and to rewire you for dreaming again. I’m believing for dreams and visions, for angels and human helpers, for happy “coincidences” and great grace and favor on your life, Sharon.

    Thank you for allowing so many others and me to glean from the benefit of your amazing experience and knowledge!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Sue! While I’ve always intended to go back to Latin America, in the past 20 years I’ve watched as more and more people make that move ahead of me: some to retire, some to improve their lifestyle at 40 or 50. (Recent changes in our country have pushed the schedule up for a good number of people.) Besides lower costs, the other thing I hear people seeking is a life style that reflects their values … simple but time-honored values. Granted, there are tradeoffs wherever you go, but some aspects of “quality of life” make those tradeoffs acceptable.

  • Sharon I regularly take time away from the internet as for me that’s the only way I can truly relax and recuperate. And a time to dream. So glad you have the support of someone who appreciates you and your need to dream 🙂

    • Why am I not surprised that you have protected that “relax and recuperate” time so vigilantly, Carolyn? I can learn a lesson or two from you!

  • marviadavidson

    I love this story. I hope to travel abroad when i get my finances back in order. I love the reminder to “revisit priorities and dance with dreams.” I needed to be reminded. It’s time for me to do that now and reassess where I’m at career wise because as you wise friend said, you don’t want to work yourself to death.

    • Marvia, we keep hearing that it’s about the journey, not the destination. And then we allow ourselves to get too busy to notice the journey!

  • I love your story and the lesson it leaves us with. My dreams have come and gone many times with the ebb and flow of business. It wasn’t until I unplugged from all technology last month, for the first time in over 9 years, that I grasped hold of my dreams again. Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees when we are so steeped in our problems. Unplugging gave me the chance to relax, engage in real life, the life of my dreams. Thanks Sharon for your transparency, you inspire me more each article.

    • Wasn’t that “unplugged” time luscious, Carla! 😉 And I’d bet being “engaged in real life” helped you redefine what you feel is truly important in life, didn’t it?

      • You so know me and my circumstances Sharon. Yes, that time I was unplugged was precious and I’ll work now towards having more time with family unplugged and more engaged.

  • Deanna

    Great post, Sharon. I’ve shared it. There are just so many people that will benefit from it.

  • Taking time away from Cyberspace is always good, or at least have someone else fill in LOL

    • You’re right, Carly, having someone handle your cyber-tasks is great … as long as you can unplug completely!

  • Lynn O’Connell

    Much as I love social media, the 24/7 pressure has made my already pressurized schedule much tougher.

    • I agree with you, Lynn. Technology is our friend in so many cases … but the fact that it’s everywhere all the time (24/7 as you say) has removed our ability to shut the door and turn off the light in the office because everyone had gone home …

  • Michelle E

    Great post! Everyone needs to step back and take a look and make some time to dream

  • Ernestine King

    Good post! Many times in our a fast-paced lives, we forget to take time to dream!

    • And the question is, Ernestine: without dreams, what’s fueling our efforts?

  • Alexandra McAllister

    Beautiful article, Sharon. I catch myself often being too stressed out and finally, I’ve found something that works…I walk…sometimes 4 miles or more but it gives me time to unwind, dream and helps keep me and my 2 little dogs, in shape. Again, thanks for sharing your story. Love it!

    • I know the “release” that comes from walking, Alexandra. Before my knee surgery, I walked an hour every morning, early, before the Florida heat and before the commotion of everyday life. I haven’t been as disciplined since I’ve healed, and I think you just put your finger on one reason for my recent overwhelm! Thank you!

  • Meire Weishaupt

    Good discussion here Sharon, living in USA, but coming from South America this subject always have been in my mind! it is good to consider the experience of others when the time of the “big decision” comes. The good thing is that once we had to leave our country every change becomes less scary!

    • Meire, when we’ve made changes in our lives — like changing countries — you’re right: future changes look a lot less scary! 😉

  • Kung Phoo

    We all need to take time and decompress after a long day or week.. You should not feel disconnected because all the information will always be there.

    • What a healthy mindset, Rob! And you’re right about all the information always being there …

  • Oh I have been dancing with my dreams. I have created my vision board and build towards that future. Live is about moving forward and that is what I do. Continue to move forward towards my dreams and my reality!

    • Congratulations, Katrina. Your enthusiasm and energy is absolutely palpable! 😉

  • Norma Doiron

    Oh, never stop dreaming! That is what keeps the excitement in our life… Protect it with all of your heart. 🙂

    • You’re so right, Norma! I really love the challenge of what I was doing — so I didn’t realize I had allowed it to take up too much space!

  • Life is made of dreams. We just need to do more of what makes our heart sing to see those dreams manifest. If it’s computer work, that’s fine, if it’s a walk on the beach that’s fine. It’s letting go of judging ourselves or coming from a place of lack that is motivating “hard work” that is the killer. Do more of what you love and watch your dreams appear as reality. I live by the words of Albert Schweitzer “Success is not the key to happiness- Happiness is the key to success” Enjoy it all I say

  • Meryl Hershey Beck

    It sounds like your dream would be an amazing adventure!

    • It will be, Meryl. I find that any time I spend in Latin America — especially away from large urban centers — is deeply nurturing. I cherish the people’s connection to the earth, the short distance between where food is grown and where it is consumed, and being bombarded daily with simple joys. It’s hard to explain … but to me it’s magical!

  • Dreams are really important to me but more, is to do the actions to make them happen.

    • And the more courageous we are in the actions we take, Carele, the bigger the dreams we can make come true!