Walking through the streets of downtown Buenos Aires, it finally started to sink in that this trip was actually happening. This life altering trip through South America had been on my mind for the past year and a half and it was hard to believe that the journey had now begun. This trip had been my driving force over the past year of my life. All of my 2014 business profit goals were set around being able to take a year off to travel the world on a journey of self discovery. It was now time to turn this dream into a reality.
When I landed in Buenos Aires with Shaun after 19 hours of travel, we only had about 8 hours in the city before catching another flight down to Patagonia’s lake district. In this time, we had 3 goals. To purchase pesos at the blue dollar rate; to eat our first meal in South America; and to make a bank transfer to our hostel.
Like most foreign tourists, we showed up in Argentina with stacks of US Dollars. The Argentina government limits the amount of dollars that anyone in the Country can obtain, so an unofficial black market has been created where people can exchange dollars for pesos at the “blue rate.” This blue rate makes a significant difference in purchasing power. At this time the blue rate was at just over 13 pesos per dollar, while the official rate was less than 9 pesos per dollar. We knew that we couldn’t pass up this opportunity, but it was a bit nerve racking thinking about exchanging $1000’s of dollars on this “black market” for the first time. In the end, it actually went much smoother than expected. It’s technically illegal, but it’s such a large industry in Argentina that everything is very streamlined and professional.
Walking down Florida Ave (The main street), there were countless people standing around saying, “cambio, cambio, cambio.” This translates to “change” in English and it is what they call the blue dollar exchanges. After speaking with one of them, we were ushered through a storefront to a side room to find a guy sitting behind a desk. We negotiated a price, made the exchange and left with our pockets bulging with peso bills. Our next stop was lunch. Argentina is known for having the best beef in the world, so I decided to order the most expensive steak on the menu ($15). It’s amazing how much better grass fed beef is compared to the grain fed mass produced beef back home. I was vegetarian for most of 2014, so this was my first steak in over a year. I was impressed!
With two out of three goals completed, we ran into the first obstacle of our trip. The reason that we had to send a bank transfer is because the hostel we booked for Bariloche had a rule that you must check in before 3pm. Since we wouldn’t be arriving in the city until 10pm, this didn’t really work for us. They said that instead, if we sent them our first nights payment in advance, that they would hold our spot until we arrived. For the transfer to work we had to go to a specific Argentinian bank and pay the bank in pesos, so we weren’t able to get things sorted out before leaving Canada.
After transferring the money, I found some wifi to send an e-mail to the hostel, confirming the transfer. To our dismay we found that the hostel had e-mailed me earlier that morning saying that if they did not hear from us by noon we would lose our reservation. It was now 1pm! I called them and was told that they had given away our beds and there was nothing they could do. They were completely full. We went on hostel world to book new accommodations, only to find that every hostel in the Bariloche was full. We had almost given up when all of the sudden a room opened up. There must have been a cancellation. We booked it and thought that the issue has been dealt with.
When we arrived at the hostel later that night the guy had some bad news. Apparently, right when we booked online, a group walked in and took the room and now this hostel was full as well. Wow. In the end we did find a place to sleep. There was an empty apartment above the hostel owners home out in a residential part of the city that he rented out to us for the night. It was about twice the price of dorm beds, but we were just happy to have a bed to sleep in after 30 hours of just sleeping in air planes.
As I was writing the first part of this post I decided that I wanted to share some thoughts on goals and intentions. As I said above, this trip was a dream of mine for over a year and now it has become reality. I believe that setting goals is the most important thing that we can possibly do to achieve success in any area of our lives. Unfortunately, most people do not consistently set goals. It blows my mind. Goals allow our minds to focus on what we really want in a world that makes it hard to focus on anything for any length of time.
I want to share a story here to demonstrate the power of goals and intentions. Almost exactly 5 years ago, in February of 2010 I first learned about goal setting. I remember clearly writing down 3 intentions on a piece of paper. Here they are…
1) To retire my father before he turns 55 (3 years early)
2) To travel to over 50 countries before I turn 30
3) To become Financially free before I turn 30 (Making $3000/month in passive income)
At this time I was just about to graduate from University with essentially no money except a bit of left over student loan. I had never even considered the idea of becoming an entrepreneur and I had very little confidence in myself. I had never left North America. And my dad was still going to work each day to job that he hated. At this time he would role his eyes at me when I talked about financial freedom and retiring early. Today, 5 years later, My dad is retired from his job (Retired by 54), I will have traveled to over 40 countries and 6 continents by the end of 2015 and I am over a third of the way to my passive income goal.
I don’t say this to impress you, but to impress upon you that anything is possible when we want it badly enough and focus on it. The problem is that we don’t know what we really want, so we settle for what life hands us. Or we know what we want, but we are afraid to go for it. We get stuck in our comfortable zone. Setting big goals allows us to break through our comfort zone and to change. I think that this is the most important result of setting big goals. In order to achieve a big goal that seems impossible at the time, we first need to change and become a person that is capable of hitting the goal.
I still remember when I first heard Jim Rohn say “If you will change, everything will change for you.” I took that to heart and have been on a journey of personal growth ever since. And because I always have had big goals and dreams, I was able to keep going when people called me crazy or rolled their eyes at me or didn’t believe in me. In the past I would have quit. I’m rambling on now and this post is getting really long, but that’s basically what I wanted to say. Hopefully someone who reads this will pick up a pen and paper and write down some goals 🙂
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