Earlier this week I met up with my friend Brad who I hadn’t seen in a few months. The last time we connected we talked about his dreams of running for office and how he’d be launching his campaign soon. Just a few weeks after that meeting he shared with the world that he’d been diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer at just 35 years old. It shook me to my core. 

Last year I had several friends who were diagnosed with cancer in their 30’s including another who was diagnosed with breast cancer. One of the first things she said to me after sharing her diagnosis was “I’ve never been in love and I’ve never left the country. If you know me you know I suffer from wanderlust. For as long as I can remember I’ve had big dreams of seeing the world (I’ve had an around the world ticket on my bucket list for years). After a difficult breakup last fall I started to wonder what the hell I was doing with my life. Seeing friends who were the same age fighting for their lives forced me to ask myself some questions:

– When do I feel most alive?

-When am I most happy?

– If money were no object what would I be doing?

– If I knew my success was guaranteed what would I be doing?

On a flight to DC a few months ago I saw a Facebook ad that read, “Do you want to travel the world and work remotely?” It was as if someone had gone into the deepest part of my brain because the answer was a resounding YES. I immediately sent my twin sister a text and asked, “Hypothetically if I spent a year traveling the world would you keep my dogs?” She said “Nope, but that sounds amazing! Tell me more.”

A few days later I applied for Remote Year and made it to the next round. A few days after that I made it to another round and shortly after had a Skype interview. Each year hundreds of thousands of people express interest in the program and I had no idea how to make my application stand out. Before the interview I said a prayer and claimed a spot as already mine. During the interview I talked about how as a little girl growing up in poverty in Detroit I used books to help me escape my reality. Those books took me around the world and my very first passport was my library card.

While I waited to hear back I began to act as if my acceptance was guaranteed. Before taking another trip to DC I went shopping for a new suitcase. When the salesperson asked me where I was traveling to I said, “Tomorrow I’m going to DC but I’ll be spending a year traveling the world.” I bought a new, lighter computer and started giving stuff away. A few days later I found out I was accepted.

I’ve been sitting on this news for a few months and realized that as excited as I was about having the opportunity to travel the world deep down I was afraid of actually making the leap. After spending the morning with Brad the other day (I wanted to see him before taking off for my trip) I asked him if there was anything I could send him or bring back the only thing he asked was that I live courageously (it’s also the name of a podcast he recently launched sharing his journey) and share my experiences with the hashtag #livecourageously. I said consider it done.

On January 27th I’m boarding a one way flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and will be spending a year living in 12 countries with 75 other people from around the world and launching my business (training women of color to run for elected office) full time. I recently quit my job and am selling just about everything I own. I’m taking a leap of faith and chasing my wildest dreams. I heard a quote from Oprah recently that articulated EXACTLY how I feel in this moment:

For now, my time in Detroit has come to an end but it doesn’t mean I’m not coming back. I’m open to whatever the universe has in store for me and can’t wait to meet my future self on the other side of the world. With just 2 weeks left before departing on this epic journey I wanted to share a few shifts that have helped me make this leap:

5) If there’s a dream in your heart go do that thing: Trust me, it won’t go away. The only regrets I have are travel related (I wanted to study abroad in college and do the Peace Corps but talked myself out of both). You’re doing yourself a major disservice by denying what your heart aches for. Go fucking do it.

4) Speak (and write) your dreams into existence: Last year (before even applying for Remote Year) started a new company called Rebecca Thompson International. I also began writing in my journal “I’m the full time CEO of my own company. I travel the world training women to run for office. I’ve left my job at the end of 2016 to pursue my dream of building my business.” Think this doesn’t work? I actually submitted my letter of resignation on December 21st.

3) You don’t have to know “how” you’re going to do it: It’s your job to just decide that you’re going to do it. Let the universe figure out the how. Before applying for the program I had never even heard of Remote Year. While I dreamed of buying an around the world ticket I thought I’d have to put the entire trip together myself. Now, for the program fee they handle all of the travel and housing arrangements. Also, within 24 hours of my acceptance I had more than half of the money for the program.

2) Take inspired action: Vision boards are awesome (I have one for every area of my life on Pinterest) but what’s really helped change my life is the action that I take every single day even when I’m exhausted or don’t know what to do. For you it might be finally buying your domain name or publishing your website.

1) Live life with a sense of urgency: Why does it take a major diagnosis for most of us to finally start living our lives? Last year I decided to start living my life with a sense of urgency. Take that freaking vacation. Start that business. Run for office. NOW. Like you’re going to die – because you are. You just don’t know when.

If you’d like to follow my journey around the world you can sign up for updates HERE. In the next few months I’ll not only be sharing insights from my trip but I’ll also be writing more about the power of chasing your dreams and living the life of your dreams. I hope you’ll join me on this new adventure. 

Now I want to hear from you. What’s one dream that you’ve been putting off going after?