Exactly one year and one week ago, I published a post that thrilled me to write: “Why I’m SO Excited… And Pretty F-ing Terrified.”

Why was I excited and terrified? Because, for the first time in 12 years, I didn’t have another job lined up after leaving Alaska.

It had been just about a month since I realized I could make a living by doing work online. That concept had never occurred to me before. I’d started my blog in December 2011 with the hopes of making some extra travel money, and then a few months later, picked up a freelance social media job by chance.

In August 2012, I had a conversation with my parents and one of my best friends that changed the trajectory of my life by making me realize I could do this “online thing,” and should. (But that’s a story for a whole other blog post.)

Just six weeks after that convo, I declared that I was moving to Central America, and that there was no traditional job in my future.

I was wrong.

I took the month-long road trip that I’d planned, and it was everything I thought it would be. The only problem? I ran into some auto troubles that cost me the equivalent of an entire month of living expenses in Nicaragua.

When I arrived home, my mom told me that her office needed someone to fill in for the next six weeks. She and my dad urged me to just go in and talk to her supervisor. The pay was better than expected, and it meant more time with my family… but I was supposed to be in Nicaragua! With the kids! Eating rice and beans!

Snow in Hamilton, NY in winter
Now I remember why I don’t miss Central New York in the winter!

But it wasn’t going to happen. Sure, I probs could’ve borrowed money from my parents or racked up some credit card debt, but neither of those were smart or appealing decisions.

So I pushed back my volunteer start date by a month and stayed home to work. Though the work wasn’t exactly enthralling, it was awesome in that I quickly replenished the money I’d lost.

In January 2013, I moved to Nicaragua and had a ball of a time. There, I did sustain myself from online work. That in and of itself was a proud achievement.

Then, I received an offer that was too good to pass up from my former employers, so I returned to Alaska to work at another traditional job. (Though working at a sea kayaking company is nothing to complain about!)

Kayaking in Ketchikan, Alaska
Yeah, my job didn’t suck…

Did I fail?

I don’t think so… but taking those jobs wasn’t what I’d planned.

That being said, I have no regrets about the way things have played out since I wrote that post. Over the past year, I’ve become ever more confident that I’m on the right track for me. I know I want to work for myself and create a career that allows me the flexibility to travel and have a life.

In life, as in travel, you need to be flexible.

You need to listen to yourself and constantly adjust your expectations, behaviors, and environment to keep yourself happy and healthy. If someone tells you they know without a doubt where they’ll be in a year, they’re either A. wrong or B. Miss Cleo.

Goals are wonderful because they get you started on a path towards something you’d like to achieve. But the cool part about life is that you can take stray from the path and come right back, take a roundabout-through-the-daisies-and-magic-mushrooms-route, or abandon it altogether.

Sometimes, you have to go backwards to go forwards.

The last time I said I was done with traditional jobs, I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know which path I wanted to take or where I wanted to end up. I just thought that being done with traditional jobs sounded like a sweet thing to say.

This time, I’m here to tell you that I am ready. I worked my ass off this summer: putting in 35-40 hours per week at the kayak shop while keeping up with my online work and doing my best to maintain this blog. (Not to mention squeezing in fun with all of my amazing friends up there!)

Alaskan husky in Ketchikan
Maggie, Elisabeth, and Kenai in Ketchikan.

It was challenging and exhausting and wonderful and oh-so-worth-it. Over the summer, I slowly socked away all of my online income (and a portion of my regular income) into my “Freedom Fund.”

I’m finally ready to dive head first into this online thing. How exactly it will go, I’m not sure yet. But I have a plan, a goal, and — most importantly — a savings fund.

And I’m so pumped! Pumped for freedom and travel and building something awesome. I can’t wait to help more and more of you get out and adventuring. (There’s one thing I’m particularly excited about, but I’m going to keep that a secret for now…)

Walking along Torrey Pines beach in California
Emily in Torrey Pines State Reserve in California.

Am I saying that I’ll work online forever? Or that it’s guaranteed I won’t get a traditional job in another week, month, or year? Hell no.

What I am saying is that you can’t kick yourself when things don’t go exactly as planned.

Don’t stress if you get bumped off the four-lane freeway to your dream or goal.

Even if you have to take the potholed backwoods route, you’ll get there eventually — complete with better stories.