What I learnt from a year of house-sitting

It was mid-September of 2015 and the change of the season hadn’t really kicked in yet. The mornings were still dark and filled with a frosty silence. Night would fall early and although my long summer days in California were barely 8 weeks ago, it seemed as though they were some vague dream that never really happened.


I remember staring at the books on the shelf of the house I was currently house-sitting at. These were my books, I moved them all in there when I first started sitting and at this very point in my life, these books were literally all I owned.


I will never forget the injection of depression that embraced me that day and I couldn’t help but think that at the age of 26, all I owned was books. I mean, I had a business and a car but technically I didn’t full own either of them and they could be gone with a turn of the market quicker than the thought of failure can trick your brain.


This thought of failure drenched me in a sickness that paralysed me from the waist down. I was at an age where most of my friends were buying houses and having kids on purpose and this was the best I could muster? A shelf full of books?


6 months earlier whilst attending the death of my own privacy at a routine house inspection I decided that I was too old to have a 40 year old man inspect and evaluate my living quarters. I didn’t realise at the time just how pivotal this moment was.


At the age of 26 it occurred to me that I was trading hours of my life in the business I created to pay somebody else’s mortgage for a room I slept a handful of hours in. A room that acted as a storage shed for the things I had accumulated over the years.


Things I never really used.


In the following weeks I decided to sell my bed, my couches, my TV and fridge and rent out a 1.2m squared storage shed which I filled with a couple of garbage bags of memories. I then went on to register on two house-sitting websites and was gifted my first house-sitting job through a client.


I really had absolutely no idea what the next 12 months would have install for me. I had no idea what to expect, no idea if I would be able to find places to house sit or if I will be left homeless. I decided to reduce my hours in the business so in turn, I wasn’t even earning the same amount of money. I didn’t want to house sit to save money. I wanted to house sit to save time. So I could build and create things that would allow me to stop trading hours of my life for a monetary value.


It’s funny you know, we think we have time. That’s why we put our goals and dreams off. That’s why we procrastinate. Because we are foolish enough to think that we are somehow owed Monday or that next week is promised. We have grown to be self-centered with time and ignorant to just how fragile life actually is, only to be painfully punched in the chest when we attend a funeral of someone who was taken too soon. A grim reminder that one day we too will be in a box.


The truth is that time is the last thing we have and it’s the first thing we take for granted.  


Over the last 12 months I have ventured to the States and trained with world record holders, ex-UFC fighters and industry leaders. I have talked in front of hundreds, have written more than my whole time in high school and college and have even been published more than ever before. That a side I have even danced in pools metres from where Skrillex was spinning his art. Even after taking all of this into account, my team, business and clients are all growing stronger each and every week – something that I am eternally proud of.


On the flipside of that I have also slept in airports, on couches and even in my car. I have ran out of money and have also skipped meals to save money and I have been moments away from throwing it all in on more occasions than I would like to admit.


I have grown to know this as ‘balance’.


That grey area between genius and madness. I hope.


I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel strange sharing this. I know to some people I would sound like a complete failure, maybe even a fraud. But in reality, house sitting has taught me more than simply looking after houses.


Although I have skipped dinners and slept on couches more in the last 12 months than I ever have before, I have never been more wealthy in my life.


I have learnt that things just kind of work out.


Work hard and good things will happen.


House sitting has taught me to problem solve. I have learnt that overall, deep down, people are really genuinely good people and they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It has taught me that I don’t need ‘things’ and above all it has taught me to be grateful. It has taught me that my worth isn’t material and neither is yours. It has taught me to never be discouraged about where I currently am. To never set goals based upon my current circumstances and resources.


Now I know that not everyone can or should house sit because clearly that’s just not feasible. I am not saying we don’t need beds or our own houses or homes. What I am saying is that you don’t have to live up to society’s expectations.


At the start of this year I was sleeping on a good friends couch and although I felt like turtle on a post because I don’t know how I got there or what to do next, I came across a quote that saved my life. It didn’t save my life because I was about to take my life or kill myself. It saved my life because it reminded me not to give in and that sleeping on a couch isn’t the worst thing. That I should keep pursuing my dreams. That life kind of just fucking works out.


The quote read;


Realize that sleeping on a futon when you're 30 is not the worst thing. You know what's worse, sleeping in a king bed next to a wife you're not really in love with but for some reason you married, and you got a couple kids, and you got a job you hate. You'll be laying there fantasizing about sleeping on a futon. There's no risk when you go after a dream. There's a tremendous amount to risk to playing it safe. - Bill Burr


I took the risk to house sit because I wanted to chase a dream.


You see everything in life is hard, you just have to choose the hard you are willing to live with.


Taking risks is hard. To me, never knowing is harder.


In life we have the ability to choose our actions and in doing so we surrender the ability to choose the consequences of  those actions.


A funny thing happens when you set a goal to earn a million dollars, no one really gives a shit and neither should they. When you shift that to setting a goal to help a million people, people start to care and want to contribute. When you understand that people don’t need your help and you start inspiring them to save themselves, your whole world transforms.


There has never been a better time in the world to buy a ticket and travel. Never been a better time to set up an internet domain and start your blog you have been putting off. There has never been a better time and will never be a better time than right now to start on the thing that you really want to do.


You just have to trust that things will fucking work out. They always do. You absolutely cannot stop yourself from pursuing the things you desire. This is what we talk about when we say people die at 20 but get buried at 80.


The biggest risk in life is not taking one.


Maybe this might inspire you to book a one way ticket overseas. Maybe you might quit your job. Maybe you might even begin to house sit to save money for your own home. Or maybe you won’t do anything and you just like a good story. Either way, I genuinely hope I stoked your fire.


As for me, I am going to keep winging it.



Dave Nixon