As college students it can be easy to let your life be driven by excuses. You may say to yourself, “I’ll do that later,” or “I just didn’t have time.” Excuses; a rather powerful source. They can serve to your benefit or to harm you, it’s a method that must not be exhausted. Plan your excuse budget and use it wisely.
We all have an unknown expiration date. Time is limited, sacred. Before postponing anything for tomorrow, think about why. Is there something more productive or consuming that you are currently doing? Or is it just out of laziness?
Introducing Alvaro Neil
Alvaro Neil, a man who said “no” to his conscience and decided to take a leap of faith and follow his dreams, recalled a very important conversation. A particular phrase that a friend told him on the phone. It struck him. He will probably never forget.
“Alváro, there are so many people who look back and see a life filled with excuses, I think you will not see excuses, but achievements,” his friend told him.
Neil has always been fascinated by the world map. He started out as a law student, studying for five years, nine hours a day and if you ask him, it was the toughest period of his life.
His true passion was and remains to be traveling. So much so, that he decided to do the math. How long would it take him to travel throughout the world?
Decision making comes into play. He could either spend his time working, studying or traveling around the world.
When making this type of choice one can be overwhelmed by emotions. A battle arises: intuition versus consciousness. Logical questions start popping up. He needed money for food, a place to sleep in… this meant leaving his life behind.
He asked himself these questions internally and as did everyone else.
The moment of truth came, and he decided to part. His curiosity became more intense with time and his passion was stronger than fear.
Neil planned and organized everything for his trip… but this would be no ordinary journey. No airplanes involved. No jets. No helicopters. No trains. No car either.
He would travel around the world on a bicycle. Just two wheels and a world of possibilities.
This type of transportation allowed for firsthand access to people, places, and cultures. It became his way of maximizing the experience and therefore his learning outcomes.
The bicycle allowed for a direct connection to the environment he found himself in. His five senses would be engaged: he could hear, smell, touch, see, and taste every culture.
Biking Around the World
In 2004, he got on his bike, and started pedaling. Year one of what turned out to be 13 years of his life. 13 years of pedaling, and of searching. Searching for food, shelter and knowledge.
“I observed that normally, the humblest cultures, those that are not so modern, and in this sense, we can think of many towns in Africa, spend more time together, they are more hospitable, have less fear… and the cultures that have a larger quantity of material goods are often more afraid of relating and connecting with others,” Neil said.
Neil explained how people are naturally full of prejudices, sometimes we do not even notice. Instead of letting himself be told what to think, by news or the radio, he went to witness it in person.
“They have opened the door for me everywhere in Africa, but in the United States, it cost me a fortune to get them to open up doors for me,” he added.
One of the most valuable lessons he learned relates to the importance of time.
“I learned that dreams should not be postponed too long and that chasing your dreams is always, ALWAYS, a victory,” said Neil.
His technique to achieve that master plan or wildest dream is to take it one step at a time. Break it down and do not let it intimidate you.
“The objective is to set very small goals and to monitor them, that is, to keep track of the goals,” Neil said. “A long-term goal is difficult to keep track of. In the short term, on a day-to-day basis, you know if you have achieved what you had to do,” he explained. “If you made a mistake because you had set a very ambitious plan, you can always change it.”
With no regrets, he returned home, proving everyone who doubted him wrong.
“What I think I’ve achieved with this project of traveling around the world on a bicycle is having lived my dreams and now being a small reference for other people who want to achieve what they know is possible, that money is the last thing you have to look for and the first thing is a purpose,” said Neil.
We’ve been taught that money is what everyone is after. Inevitably, there’s some truth to it. But I encourage you to dream big like Neil and do what makes you truly happy. Neil proves that the saying “money doesn’t buy happiness” contains some truth. So don’t use excuses, live your dreams.
words_valeria palladino photo_provided by alvaro neil.