A Journey Of 1,000 Miles…

by Paula Pant on · 5 comments

Society teaches us to visualize the end result.

Imagine living in your dream house. Imagine having enough money to allow one parent to stay-at-home. Imagine having the funds to travel the world, launch a business, or retire young.

The problem with this exercise? Visualizing a grandiose dream can leave us feeling overwhelmed. "Enough money to travel the world? Are you kidding? I'm trying to visualize next month's rent!"

When we feel overwhelmed, we're likely to throw our hands in the air, declare "I can't afford it!," and resign ourselves to an unnecessary fate.

That's why I recommend concentrating on the small steps. I'm sure you've heard the expression, "A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step." Well, a journey towards a million-dollar net worth, a dream home, or a debt-free life, starts with the first dollar.


Back in 2008, I quit my job and launched a two-year trip around the world, traversing across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Australia.

My friends all asked me the same question: " How can you afford it?"

"I saved," I replied.

No one seemed satisfied with that answer. They knew I wasn't a banker or doctor or lawyer. I was a small-town newspaper reporter, a class of people who are known for earning low wages.

So everyone was a little befuddled about how I'd managed to save. They began assuming all kinds of crazy stories – that I'd won a lottery, or met a wealthy lover, or amassed huge debt.

The truth is a much simpler story. I took small steps. I saved one dollar at a time.

I rented the cheapest apartment I could find that was still within bike-riding distance of my job.

I biked to work, saving fuel costs.

I wore thrift-store clothes and used secondhand furniture.

I bought store-brand products.

I refrained from buying processed and packaged foods at the grocery store.

I exercised outdoors instead of at a gym.

I never dyed my hair or manicured my nails.

I gave friends and family homemade, heartfelt gifts – like cookies baked from scratch – rather than expensive gifts.

These aren't huge sacrifices. They're mostly simple acts. But they helped me save, one dollar at a time, until I reached the day that I could pour those savings into a one-way airline ticket across the ocean.

At moments of weakness, when I needed motivation, I'd visualize the major end goal: two years of travel.

In the meantime, I focused on small steps. And I journeyed far more than 1,000 miles.

by Paula Pant

Thanks to wise money managing, Paula Pant has traveled to 27 countries, purchased a 99-year-old Victorian home near central Atlanta’s most beautiful park, and has never — ever — had a penny in debt. Her blog, Afford Anything, is based on one radical idea: money should never hinder your dreams.
Paula Pant
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Nneka, Working Mystic July 16, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Kudos to you Paula! I think even before the steps is the decision. Not the wish or the hope, but the decision to travel for 2 years. The goal was meaningful enough for you to trade those other things for it. You decided and you acted in alignment with what you valued.

Much kudos indeed:-)
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Sean G July 21, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thanks Paula, this post is a helpful reminder that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. I also agree with Nneka. In this case, even before your first step, you made a decision. Consequently, you did not sabotage yourself because the goal was meaningful to you.


Crystal @ Broke-Ass Mommy July 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Wow – that’s awesome! Mr. BFS and I have taken an income hit recently and started making small changes to save even more than normal. It’s been pretty easy as long as we keep our ultimate goal in mind – paying off our current home in 2013 and our new home by 2020. Plus, living cheaper hasn’t meant living less…that’s helpful. 🙂
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Amit Amin July 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Outcome visualization may actually be inferior to process visualization – that is, we may be more likely to achieve our goal if we visualize concrete steps we can take to get there, rather than visualizing the end goal.

I personally use process visualization for goal achievement purposes, and outcome visualization for goal clarification purposes – what should I even be achieving? But I could use a pick-me-up like your imagining your vacation. Hm…
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Born27 July 25, 2012 at 8:53 am

I love reading this post Paula! a big round of applause for this.. We should face the fact that we should really be more practical right now, and to make some ways how to achieve our goals in life. And face our journey with open mind and strong will.
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