Are You “Lucky” Enough To Live The Life You Want?

Posted by:     Tags:      Posted date:  April 20, 2012  |  23 Comments
Insert Drawing :)

The other day when we were ashore in Florida, I was having lunch with a fellow crew member at a sports bar, when a waitress came up to us and said “You know what, you crew members are so lucky. You have the perfect life. You are getting paid to see the world”.

Me: “I guess. Still, it’s a job”.
Her: “Come one, you have nothing no worry about. No expenses, just travel”.

At that point, I was tempted to ask that if I had “no expenses” would that mean that lunch was free? Instead, I replied “You know, you can work on cruise ships too. There are lots of jobs available.”

Her: “Oh no, I can’t because of blah, blah, blah”.

I guess I was really lucky then, simply because I didn’t have the same limiting beliefs that she did for herself.

Come on, you don’t need to win a lottery in order to work on a cruise ship. You just need to be 21, have relevant work experience and education, be of decent health, not have a criminal record and not live in an Axis of Evil country. And obviously, have the desire to work on board cruise ships. The barriers to entry are actually incredibly low. There are something like 300 different jobs on board these floating cities, practically something for the whole gamut of skill sets, from cleaner to captain and everything between. It’s not like trying to get a job at NASA, where you have to be a rocket scientist.

And because you’re working in international waters, it’s easier to get a job on board a cruise ship than it is to get a work visa in most foreign countries (I know this from personal experience, having worked in 6 countries.). Best of all, it’s a growing industry! If you need more assistance, check out Wandering Earl’s comprehensive e-book.

But the point of this post is not to sell you on working on cruise ships. Really. Cruise ship life is not for everyone. I want to discuss a subject much deeper. It’s about this whole notion of luck. You see, luck is bullshit.

My belief is there are very few things which are really due to luck. Winning the lottery is luck. Where you are born, that’s luck. Your gender and genetics, that’s luck. Your family, that’s luck. If you grew up with access to clean drinking water and decent education, you’re lucky. And if you were born in a developed country, you are damn lucky.

When I meet someone doing what I want to do, I try to learn from them by asking how they did it. That’s what I’ve done when it’s come to travel, career, health and fitness. The term for it is modelling. Rather than dismiss their success by saying that they are a statistical anomaly, I tell myself “if they can do it, I can do it”. Because really, we can. We make own luck. And the harder we work, the luckier we become.

I bet this lady has never even applied to work on cruise ships. Florida is home to the largest cruise ship terminal in the world – the opportunities are right there at her doorstep! She just wanted to focus on what she didn’t have in life. I find that sad. Focusing on what we don’t have rather than being grateful for what we do have, is a recipe for life-long misery.

I don’t think I’m doing anything particularly special but I am happy to say that right now, I’m living the life I want. It’s not perfect but I’m grateful. I don’t think everyone needs to travel to be happy. Some people rather focus on family or career or some other passion which makes them happy, and that’s perfectly fine. For me, it’s travel. One day the disadvantages of cruise ship life may outweigh the advantages, and that’s when I’ll move on to something else. You don’t have to be lucky to live the life you want. You just need to take action and give it your best shot.

How about you? Are you an action-taker or do you prefer to leave things to “luck”? :)

About Me

In 2004, I sold everything I owned and left New Zealand to go see the world. In that time, I've run with bulls in Pampolona, watched the Man burn at Black Rock City, volunteered at a special-needs summer camp in New York, hosted & couchsurfed with 100+ people, taught English in Prague, trained with Muay Thai fighters in Phuket, worked on 5 different cruise ships, hugged strangers on streets in 7 countries and this one time, I even hitchhiked naked (but that was back home, so that doesn't really count). I moved to Vancouver, BC in 2012, to embark on new adventures. It's nice here, I think I may stay awhile! Let's connect: @roymarvelous, facebook & RSS.

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  • Andrea

    Dead on. I don’t think enough people in this world are accountable for their lives – meaning that they misunderestimate how much their own actions play a part in the design of the lives they lead. I get annoyed when I hear someone say others are “lucky” – you make your own luck in this world. Unfortunately so many buy into the time trap sold by the corporate world…get educated, get a job, sell your soul for the 9 to 5 and one day you’ll get to retire with a lot of money – when you’re too old to enjoy it. Not that I have anything against the world’s hard-working people, I just think that there’s a lot of victim mentality in this world. Somewhere along the line people forget that even though that may be what their parents or society told them to do, the choice was ultimately theirs.

    • Roy Marvelous


  • Jess @UsedYorkCity

    Seriously, loved this article. Modeling the good folks that inspire you, combined with lots of hard work on your part, will get you further than all the “luck” in the world. Well, minus those lottery winners;-)

    • Roy Marvelous

      My 5-year plan is still to win the lottery tho… :P

  • Claire

    Definitely an action-taker. I learned pretty early that if I wanted something to happen, I had to take all the steps necessary to make it happen. Nobody was going to come along and finance this trip, or plan it out, or move back home for me so money could be saved to go. I did it all myself and I am pretty proud of my choices. And I don’t regret a single one of them! Great post.

    • Roy Marvelous

      Hell yeah. Good for you Claire.

  • Musa

    Action Taker definitely. I’ve always wanted to live a life of travel like you do so after finding your blog
    and wandering earl’s and seeing that a life of travel is actually possible I made a plan for myself to make it happen. I’m saving up for a solo backpacking trip summer 2013 and planning on a cruise ship job after college (I bought the e-book also). So keep up the good work, you’re inspiring future travelers like myself :)

    • Roy Marvelous

      Nice one. Let me know if you need any help.

  • Stacey

    I completely agree! I’m living in the states at the moment, and have chosen to travel instead of staying at home and going to uni, getting a job etc. I hate it when people say I’m lucky as well-anyone can travel if they choose to, and the only difference is that people who choose to travel don’t let anything hold them back from doing what they want to do.
    People make their own luck, and their own excuses too.
    I’m a kiwi from Christchurch and I just found your blog. Lot’s of interesting info on here, I think I’ll be reading for awhile. I did summer camp in 2007 (at one of those camps for bratty kids lol) and it changed my life as well :)

    • Roy Marvelous

      I guess you’re lucky to have more guts then them :)
      Btw, I did a summer camp in USA too in 2004/2006.

  • Ayngelina

    There is no luck required at all, everyone has the same opportunity to make the same decisions we did – in fact most could still make that decision but fear holds them back.

    • Roy Marvelous

      Yup. Absolutely!

  • Erin

    I’m so glad that when I was a child, I swallowed the line “you can do whatever you want to do and be whoever you want to be when you grow up.” I took that junk to heart and you know, it’s true. It’s not luck, it’s a fight. I fight everyday to live the life I want to live and it’s not easy. You can’t live like this and be lazy. I think most people are scared to get out of their comfort zones and as a result, limit themselves on purpose. I have real limitations and fight against them everyday to keep my lifestyle. I’m tired of hearing people tell me how lucky I am and how awesome and easy life must be in Costa Rica on the beach. I don’t live on the freaking beach, I live in the city and in a lot of ways, it’s a lot harder than living in the States but I freaking love it!!

    • Roy Marvelous

      Right! And I’m sure you love it more because it *isn’t* easy.

  • Firefly

    Did I stumble upon your blog by luck? I think not!

    We humans have a spectacular ability for selective listening, which can work towards or against the life we want. In your case it’s called modelling; in the waitress’, envy. Same difference, except that you sound at peace with your life, and she doesn’t.

    I recently made a breakthrough when I discovered the difference between being “imaginative” and being “creative”. Imaginative people think about doing stuff. Creative people _do_ stuff. Yoda said: “There is no try, Jedi, only do.”

    Will you be at the Burn this year? I’m trekking over to BRC from India.

    • Roy Marvelous

      Great comment. I really like that comparison between imaginative and creative! And yes, I’ll be with The Lost Penguins at BRC. Yourself?

      • Firefly

        Coming with a friend, gonna be kickin’ it freestyle. Will mosey on over to LP for some free hugs :) Happy travels!

        • Roy Marvelous


  • Chrystal McKay

    I love this article. People constantly tell me I am lucky to travel when and where I want. I always say its a priority I’ve made for myself – not luck. And once I realized I Could work on a cruise ship I’ve been doing everything I can to get employed on one. I won’t stop until I get one. Cheers mate.

    • Roy Marvelous

      Nice. Good luck!

  • SR1

    I remember that lunch, and that waitress

  • Alexandra Wade

    You’re right, we make our own luck. No one is better than us, we can all strive for the same things !! As soon as i can i’m going to apply for ship positions, always been the job i want!!

    • Roy Marvelous

      Good for you!