I Give UP! Details Overwhelm Sets In

I quit.

What have I been thinking?

Who do I think I am, chucking my entire life, pretending I can travel the world for a year?

I can’t even imagine how I’m going to deal with my stuff and figure out what to do with my house, let alone have enough money to live and work from the road.  I’m 58 years old, for Pete’s sake. I give up. I’m not going.

These thoughts pass through my mind whenever I think of everything I need to get done to realize my dream of traveling around the world for 365-ish days. And the more I read other world travelers’ blogs, the more I realize that this is perfectly normal, this not-knowing-what’s-going-to-happen fear, this there-are-so-many-things-to-do/plan/decide/buy overwhelm.

Yesterday I was feeling that overwhelm in a pretty major way. My mind whirled with the myriad details of what travel bag to choose, which walking shoes to buy, whether I should sell or rent my house, what to keep and where to keep it, how I’m going to manage mail, how I’m going to deal with taxes, and on and on and on . . .

Then I remembered about lists.

Before I started hyperventilating, I grabbed a pencil and notepad and began writing down everything that was streaming through my mind like a high-def Bruce Willis action movie. A peaceful calm immediately started trickling through my manic brain. Oh, right, I thought. At this age I have tools to deal with fears, anxiety, and overwhelm. I just have to remember what they are and how to use them when I need them most.

I realized then that I actually had a list of lists constantly running in the back of my mind. I am astounded that I had not yet started a real, physical, long-term list of things I need to do/research/buy before I go. So now I have the beginning of my list of lists and a place to jot down all the random thoughts that come into my head when I read a blog about dealing with taxes while traveling or what mail service to use. Lists Fix Everything

Here is the very beginning of my list of lists:

  • Stuff:
    • Room by room, separate items into three categories: Keep, sell, give
    • Create a timeline of selling stuff using VarageSale, Craigslist, Facebook, specialized garage sales (Jewelry! Clothes! Electronics! Tools!)
    • Find an awesome home for my cat, Apples.
  • Stuff about the house:
    • Get CRM from my realtor—should I sell?
    • Talk to property managers about renting to long-term tenant—should I lease?
    • Prepare house accordingly
  • Stuff to purchase:
    • Laptop (Dell Inspiron 11 3000 series)
    • Backpack (probably Eagle Creek Switchback 22) and packing cubes
    • Walking shoes
    • Down jacket
    • The perfect pair of pants
    • Travel insurance
  • Stuff to research:
    • Best way to travel between countries
    • Volunteer opportunities
    • Weather by month
    • How to deal with taxes
    • (This list is going to get huge!)
  • General stuff to do:
    • Re-establish my credit (I had to file bankruptcy in 2010. It’s been a long recovery.)
    • To that end: apply for a credit card
    • Decide where my permanent address will be (tricky, since I don’t plan on coming back to Oregon. Probably will be my mom’s in California)
    • (Another rapidly growing list!)

These items represent just a tiny beginning of things that go through my mind. This list of lists will grow quickly, I’m sure. And when I am working on planning my trip, I’ll go to my list and see what to do. There’s nothing like crossing off an item on a giant, months-long list of lists to feel like I’m making progress!

My goal is to leave by November 2015 and travel for a year, so I also remind myself I have time to take care of all these details, but no time to waste. My departure date will be here before I know it, so I am actively choosing my travel laptop, my backpack, my walking shoes. I am sorting through my stuff and talking to property managers. And the money? I’m already halfway to my goal of saving $10,000, so I may increase the final total if my work flow continues to hold steady.

From now on, when I have those moments of panic and anxiety about preparing for such a huge life change, I will simply remember my lists and take comfort in knowing that it will all work out as long as I stay on track. After all, these are some of the best life skills I’ve developed, tools I can pull out of the bag when they’re most needed.

What do you do when you’re in overwhelm? Are you a list maker? Please share the life skills you’ve developed and keep in your tool bag!




17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marie Curry
    Mar 22, 2015 @ 11:14:46

    Great article. I too make lists. Love your blog and love you.

  2. Jessica Vineyard
    Mar 22, 2015 @ 11:51:28

    Thanks, Marie! I’m getting better at list making.

  3. Laura Knapp
    Mar 22, 2015 @ 15:08:31

    I am a BIG LIST MAKER! My frustration is that I usually add more to my list before being able to cross things off my list. However, at least the list gets the thoughts out of my head so that I am not using my head for storage, but rather “thinking” and problem solving. I have heard that Evernote is a great tool to incorporate for quickly documenting thoughts, web sites etc. I have also used a mind-mapping technique, most often when first starting my list making so that I don’t need to to think in a linear fashion about everything. Most of all, enjoy the process, and remember that your leave date was set by you and you could change it, if you so desire to lessen stress as the day approaches…

  4. Jessica Vineyard
    Mar 22, 2015 @ 15:47:56

    Laura, YES to all you write! I LOVE Evernote, and it’s now filled to the brim with clips and tips and tons of travel ideas (if that’s possible with a digital notebook)! Love the mind-mapping, too. Thank you!

  5. bookandbowl
    Mar 22, 2015 @ 22:04:57

    Big list maker here! It’s the only thing that calms me down when in overwhelm. Good reminder that the tools are right there in front of us! – Suz

  6. Jessica Vineyard
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 01:10:15

    Indeed! After all this time, I’m still surprised at how easily I can forget what works in times of overwhelm!

  7. Vance
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 11:03:27

    Great read..very enlightening. Bravo

  8. Jessica Vineyard
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 12:20:53

    Thanks, Vance. I appreciate the kind words!

  9. stevegee234
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:30:07

    Good !!! Now you have something to work with as opposed to that nebulous anxiety…

  10. Jessica Vineyard
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:38:43

    Ha! Good one, Steve! Got my new notepad today for all my list making!

  11. Joy Light
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 22:52:43

    Just say yes and keep on listing 🙂

  12. Jessica Vineyard
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 23:12:05

    Thank you, Joy! I appreciate the words of encouragement!

  13. Karen
    Mar 25, 2015 @ 10:40:31

    Just do it…NOW! Seriously, get yourself on the road…all the details will fall away. You will have what you need. All will be well.

  14. Jessica Vineyard
    Mar 25, 2015 @ 11:45:38

    Thanks for your words of encouragement, Karen! I’m right on track with my timeline, thank goodness!

  15. Shelley
    Apr 02, 2015 @ 15:12:31

    so I know this reading is overdue but yep- lists, with timelines, deadlines, costs/expenses, and pros/cons…

  16. Jessica Vineyard
    Apr 02, 2015 @ 15:47:31

    Yes! Lists are so helpful. I’m not going to over-analyze too much, since traveling will be my lifestyle. I won’t be “on a trip.” So right now I’m focusing on starting to sell off my big stuff. Still lots to do! Lists help!!

  17. bustrainboatwalk
    Sep 22, 2015 @ 23:05:52

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who went through this. I love lists, and I loathe not being able to plan ahead due to outside factors. At the moment I had my little meltdown, I had to remind myself that I couldn’t control the medical system that was delaying my vaccinations. I couldn’t control the seas that would make me ill for two weeks at a time. I had literally no control over things – big things – that would influence my trip. With slow-travel, I guess this is less concerning than with a well planned out itinerary. However, it’s also BECAUSE it’s slow-travel that things are so vague. I need structure to feel secure. Some form of structure, even if there’s lots of leeway. I don’t like free-falling, but I do like adventuring.

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