We’re nearly a month into 2013 and right now is the time that most people settle into their usual routine and forget about all the positive thoughts they had at the start of the year. You don’t need a New Year’s resolution to change your life, change can happen at any time in any place. You just need to focus on what you want and make it happen.

We recently posted about how American Express Canada asked us why we chose to follow our dreams and realize our true potential

susan biali 2

Dr. Susan Biali

live the life you want

Dr. Susan Biali – Dancer

Live Up to Your Potential

Just the other day we had a conversation with Dr. Susan Biali about being an American Express Real Life Potentialist. Dr. Biali has an amazing story where she took leave from her successful career as a doctor to pursue her passion and become a professional Flamenco dancer. It took her nearly two decades to realize her dream. She is still a practicing medical doctor but is now also a life coach,motivational speaker and dancer helping people around the world through bouts of depression and insecurity.

I tell her story because although her current career is much different from ours, the path that she took to get there is astonishingly similar.  Depressed and frustrated, she started to ask the right questions to transform her life.

As we talked to her about our path that lead us to where we are today, we both agreed that all those years ago, we knew we could be a success at anything, if only we knew what we wanted to do with our lives.

How do you Live the Life You Want?

How Do you live the life you want?

You may not know what you want to do with your life yet. You may to think, “Am I the only one who doesn’t know what I want out of life?” But you are not.  According to Dr. Biali, most people come up empty initially but that shouldn’t concern you. Instead embrace the fact that you have taken that first step. Simply asking the question will get the ball rolling, your eyes will open and you will start to notice clues that will lead you to the answers you are seeking.

How We Realized Our Potential

It took us years to find our calling but we never gave up searching. We tried everything while we worked at our jobs in the movie business to pay our bills and give us the freedom to take up new sports and hobbies. At one point we thought we’d become dive masters in Honduras or we’d lead bike tours in Europe or perhaps buy a beach bar in Thailand. We never followed through on those ideas, but each one took us a step closer to realizing our potential.

Live the life you want

Trying everything lead us to live the life we want

We knew that we wanted to travel during the next stage of our life and with each new sport we tried like rock climbing, mountain biking and snowboarding, we realized that we loved living a life filled with adventures. We began to see that we didn’t need to be experts at one sport, but could utilize our strength of being the “Jack of All Trade” types to inspire other people to try new things and travel the world.

Love the Life you Live

We also have a very strong relationship and love being together.

Live the life you want

We have always been told that our marriage was one that others envied but we believe that anyone can have a great relationship if they are willing to work at it and remember why they fell in love in the first place. Too many people stop working on their relationship a few years in. We thought if we could share our story and show people that disagreeing is ok and having different goals is ok, they too could have a successful marriage. We show our differences in personalities and how we use them to inspire one another to try something new.

When people know that they are not alone, that we have the same fears and doubts that they do and that we didn’t get to where we are today because we were born with a silver spoon in our mouths, they can relate to us and know that anything is possible.

Dreams Can Come True

Dr. Biali states, “I believe the dreams that we have in our hearts is our purpose. You don’t know the reason you have to follow your dream but if you do, it will take you to where you need to be.” You just need to have the courage to follow your heart and be open to all the possibilities of where it will take you.

There is a definite shift in the way people are thinking about life and career and according to a survey carried out by opinion matters on behalf of American Express, about nine in ten (87%) Canadians believe you should prioritize following your dreams over other commitments like work and career.

live the life you want dare to dream

Dare to Dream

Dave and I are living proof that if you follow your heart, success will come. Each time we took an extended leave from our careers to travel, we always came home to new and exciting possibilities. Every time we gave notice at work, we knew we were taking a risk that our jobs wouldn’t be waiting for us when we returned, but each time we came home, we found work, and something bigger and better always happened. We truly believe that because we opened ourselves up to new possibilities, we allowed room in our lives for new things to happen. We were more interesting and confident people and it showed during our interviews or daily activity.

American Express Canada believes Canadians are starting to define success based on their passions and dreams rather than simply their career status.  We believe that too. We also believe that if you follow your dreams, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. We plan on blogging and traveling until the day we die. It’s an extraordinary freedom not have to dream of the day we retire.

Having worked with American Express Canada to answer the question “What makes you a Real Life Potentialist”, we now wanted to throw this question out to our readers.

Are you living the life you want? Are you realizing your potential?

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Leave a comment


  1. Tom Miller

    Yes, I have been living the life that I wanted with the people I love around me and keeping me company. I also lived my dream of riding my barge and roaming the beautiful places in Europe. Dreams do come true if you simply steer your life towards it. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. debndave Post author

      Congratulations Tom! That is so wonderful to hear. I truly believe that more and more people are choosing to live the life they want over following the ‘normal’ patterns that we are supposed to. What seemed odd a decade ago, is now accepted. People are selling their houses to ease the burden of debt and finances and freeing themselves up to follow their passions. People are leaving jobs that aren’t fulfilling to pursue their dreams. We are hearing more and more stories from people like you who are living their dreams and following through on their goals. Thank you for sharing your story too!

  2. Ali

    I love this post! There is so much more to life than a career you fell into or one that you have because it’s what you thought you “should” do it. Going after your passion, searching for what makes you feel alive is well worth the effort. I’m so happy for you both that you found the life you want!

    1. debndave Post author

      Thank you Ali. That is exactly what we felt to. We went into the film business because it was booming in Vancouver when we lived there and it was easy. Every production was looking for people because the industry was growing faster than it could crew movies. Dave was instantly moved up to the lighting department after only one day as a Production Assistant and then he spent the next 15 years in the business. Sure, he kept getting promoted and crewed on bigger movies, but it wasn’t his passion. It was totally something he fell into. It’s easy to stick with something that is ‘easy’ There was never a shortage of work, he was respected in his field and the money was good, but it never fulfilled his soul. Now that he is taking photographs around the world, taking on challenging adventures and learning about social media and the internet business as we go, he’s truly content.

  3. grayspirit

    Well said. I pursued the American Dream for many years. Funny, but the more I acquired, the less I really had. Luck or karma helped me find another path. I’ve never looked back.

    1. debndave Post author

      Well said. I remember buying our first (and only) house. Right after we moved in, Dave left for work and I was sitting alone in the living room. I suddenly started crying. I instantly felt empty and trapped. I said to myself, “I just settled” I wanted to do something great and now I am trapped with mortgage payments and stuck in a job I don’t love. We ended up spending 3 years in that house. We ‘had’ everything. Two cars, hot tub, expensive furniture, nice landscaping…At the same time though, we took up more and more hobbies to fill the void…scuba diving, mountain biking, rock climbing. It kept us out of a rut and within 3 years, we were itching to put all our new skills to the test. We sold our house and started traveling again. 5 years after that, we were traveling full time and making a living at our passion. We don’t have anything as far as ‘things now’ but we have so much more in life experience and happiness. we no longer feel empty. We aren’t looking back either and I am so glad that you too are feeling the same way.

  4. Dariece - Goats On The Road

    Yes! I love this post. The photo of the two of you hugging is adorable :) It’s all about living the lifestyle of your dreams, with the person you love. Isn’t it interesting how you think your life is going to go one way (ie: buying a beach bar and being dive masters) and then it just goes in a different direction all together? I think it makes for an exciting life, being able to be spontaneous.

    You two are a true inspiration. Keep the posts coming! Hope you’re enjoying South Africa.


    1. debndave Post author

      Thank you Dariece. You are so right, life always takes unexpected turns. It’s being open to all possibilities that allows you to follow the path you are meant to be on. It was having all those ideas that lead us to where we are today. I’m glad it all took us a while to figure things out, because I don’t think that we were ready for this lifestyle a few years ago.

  5. Jamie

    I really enjoyed reading this post. One point in particular that rang true with me was that, “about nine in ten (87%) Canadians believe you should prioritize following your dreams over other commitments like work and career.” It shows you that many people understand this concept. However, if you look at how many people actually chase down their dreams, the number would be remarkably smaller. I feel this is because many people are scared. They are scared of jumping, of what might happen and what might go wrong. People are much more comfortable living their life in that grey area, the area that knows neither happiness nor success because it is safe. I did a Masters in Mathematics because it was safe. But then you realise that there is something more to life. Only when one realises the insignificance of what they have in the form of a career, are they able to truly let go. It’s a scary jump to make and parents won’t be pleased. But damn, it’s let’s you know that you’re alive.

  6. Maria @LatinAbroad

    you guys just… *sniffs* *deep sigh* *grins*

    Your posts stir my emotions in such a way. I always leave your blog refreshed, inspired.

    You guys keep giving me the push I need everyday to keep working hard for my dreams.

    I can see the light of the end of the tunnel and, while I’m not living my dream full-time like you guys are yet, I know I will someday. Just like you said, courage –and working hard–are the first steps!


    - Maria Alexandra

    1. debndave Post author

      I am so glad that you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. All change takes time and hard work, but in the end it is worth it.

  7. Suitcase Stories

    Yes, we have been living our dream life for 12 months now! We have NEVER been happier. We gave up everything to become nomadic and it was most definitely the best decision we ever made. Not that we had a choice – The universe had a plan for us so it was going to happen at some point :)

    I wish more people would live their dream life. The word would be a much better/happier place!

    Thanks for this great post!

  8. Lilian

    Thanks for this post. I’m currently working towards my dream, starting off by moving to your home country! I’m just getting there one step at a time and figuring out exactly what it is I want to do along the way – and hopefully my blog will be part of that. Thanks again for the motivation :)

  9. Jade

    Exactly! thank you! I left a seven year relationship, sold my house, left my cat and my job behind to go travel. Something I’d wanted to do for a decade. Shortly into my trip I met the love of my life and plans had to change slightly. We’re about to head on the road together in a little less than a year and we’re so excited. It’s a tough road through self exploration to find the life you want to live, but it’s so worth it when you find your path!

    Thanks for your wonderful post :)

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Jade, congratulations on living the life you want. It sounds like you followed your path and found exactly what you were looking for. I think that it is great that your plans have changed slightly, we always are open to a different direction especially when those plans take you to an even better place. How is your cat by the way? What did you end up doing with her/him?

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