Just over twelve months ago I walked out of my corporate job with its great salary package and perks, for the very last time. Four weeks earlier I had resigned. I was 29 years old, stressed out of my mind, having trouble sleeping, gaining weight due to excessive chocolate intake at my desk and above all, I knew there had to be more to life. I was being backed into corners at work, working twice or three time as hard as I needed to just to make sure that things were done ethically and correctly. I had no time to myself and when I did, all I thought or talked about was work. How had this happened to me? This wasn’t the plan.
What was your plan? How far have you deferred from it?
How long would it take to change your path?
So just what was my plan? It’s very simple. In 2007 I returned home to Melbourne, Australia after a huge and exciting journey where I backpacked through South and Central America, worked in Canada, traveled Europe with my new Canadian bestie and sunned on the beach in Thailand for a few weeks on the way back home. I was a traveller and I loved the lifestyle. My plan was to head back to Australia, work like a beast for 1-2 years to save up the money to do another trip.
The plan started off well. I was making decent money working hospitality. I spent my first summer back in Australia at the beach with my oldest friends, and together we working by the seaside. Then alone I relocated to the city in Autumn in search of a little more culture and nightlife. I was having a great time, the plan was working and if all kept up this way, I could be leaving Australia again on another big trip by 2010. Then cupid’s arrow shot me in the ass.
I met the most amazing girl and she completely took me by surprise; I was not in the romance market at all. I only wanted to work, make money, save… and maybe party a little. We met in mid-2008 and had a courtship of nearly six months. By November we were dating and by Christmas I was smitten. I had also taken her by surprise. She was not looking for a relationship any more than I was, we made it clear that our feelings for the other one were most inconvenient. We were both enjoying life as it was. I guess that is when you always find the right person, when you’re not even looking.
The years passed and we fell into the cycle of every other relationship around us. We moved in together, bought indoor plants, supported each other through changing jobs and industries, moved into a bigger house with room for a BBQ in the back for entertaining. We restored furniture to make our house perfect. We bought the right clothes to make ourselves feel good about having successful positions at work. We brunched at the same cafes each weekend and ordered the same meals, from the same chef, on the same street… every week.
This all happened without us noticing. It was like one day we were a young couple, out on weeknight with our mates and not caring that we had jobs that meant working on the weekends. Then seemingly, the next day we were this old boring couple who lived in the suburbs and screwed up our faces at the idea of a Friday night out, preferring to stay home and stream Netflix series. That was not the plan. This was not the plan at all. Don’t get me wrong, we were happy. We just knew that we had moved away from our individual life plans. We had settled.
I’m guessing this is the point that many readers at sitting at now, or have been sitting at in the past. Maybe you took a gap year and then planned to work for a while before heading overseas again. Maybe you wanted to a launch your career first to make some money that would allow you to follow your real passion. Whatever the plan was, it seems to have slipped away over time. This story is intended to be a little piece of inspiration. You can re-divert your life back to the original plan. We did (at 29 and 33 years of age), and we have never been happier.
In 2014 we pulled our heads out of the sand and immediately started to rectify the adult-like situation we had gotten ourselves into. We held an open-house garage sale and sold nearly all of our belongings. We moved into a small one-bedroom apartment in order to save money and 10 months later, we were on a plane headed to South America. Within those 10 months, we both quit our successful careers, as we had come to dislike nearly everything that they represented. We worked lower paying jobs, were happier and were still saving money. I took up freelance writing and made sure I still knew how to make a good (Melbourne standard) coffee. It is this anniversary that I celebrated in September of 2015. It was 12 months since I walked out of my office for the last time, hopefully never to return. I have given away all of my suits, blazers, business heels and bags so that I cannot easily slip back into that lifestyle.
In the 12 months since I left the office with tears in my eyes and wondering if I had just made the biggest mistake of my life, I have reignited my passion with the hospitality industry, spent two months in South America, traveled 5,000km up the east coast of Australia chasing the winter sun in the north and spent six months living in a tent in the most incredible locations. It was difficult to move from the mindset of needing to climb the corporate ladder. To rid myself of the need to be seen as successful. Instead, I now work in my pajamas or bathers, on a picnic rug in the middle of a National Park; I work in short and a t-shirt flipping burgers or truckies; I work in my underpants as I clean the house we are sitting while their owners are on holidays of their own; I get paid to chat to other travelers and serve them drinks at a roadhouse bar. We have no idea where our next dollar will come from, we just have the faith in ourselves that it will come. We are freelance workers and travellers and our lives have a whole new meaning.
I have found that my need for travel and adventure is much greater than my need for a career title and a salary package. I do not have any drive to purchase a house or own a wardrobe full of dresses I will only ever wear once. I want to see the world! I want to be able to fit all my belongings in to my car so I can take off at the drop of a hat. That was the plan in my early twenties, and it while it took me longer to get here than first planned, I am now living my dream and doing it with my best friend and the love of my life.
What was your life plan? It’s never too late to start again.