I'm looking for something that I am passionate about and which I can throw myself into, with the energy, excitement and satisfaction that's derived from doing something that I consider worthwhile.
"If you don't love something, then don't do it". - Ray Bradbury
It sounds a lot like some new age poppycock, doesn't it? Speaking of poppycock, one of the many great enjoyments of living in Singapore for a few years has been the large amount of British people and their dry sense of humor and great phrases. It makes me quite chuffed.
But anyway, back to the topic at hand. Even to myself, the whole concept that is popularized by phrases such as "live your dream", "dare to be the real you" and "do what you love and money will follow" rings a bit shallow. It's not that I dislike the concept; to the contrary, it's great to think about and has sold a lot of books and hopefully convinced a few people to try something outside of their comfort zone. However, it seems very focused on the selling of the idea and not much about how to get there or what you'll do when you arrive. The proverbial beer advertisements of a dream lifestyle.
Maybe that's just my conservative (though not politically; that is a topic for another time) and pragmatic upbringing, which has certainly influenced greatly the way I've gone about this whole job quitting and traveling idea. The principles with which I was raised (thanks Mom and Dad!) can be summarized in a few basic concepts (in no particular order);
- treat other people like you want to be treated.
- if you're doing something, do your best.
- nothing in life is free.
How does this relate to quitting my job and traveling? A lot. As I mention briefly in my bio, I've always enjoyed traveling and have thought frequently about quitting my job and traveling around the world. However, as doing things such as eating and sleeping does indeed have a monetary value attached to them, it seemed difficult or foolish to me to do these things without an idea or plan of how I'd support myself or what I'd do after the trip ended. I've never really been someone who indulges (frequently) in instant gratification, as the real cost is often many times greater than if you plan for it a bit first.
I'm sure I was also influenced in no small way by my pride. I don't want to be a smelly backpacker bum (much different and less trustworthy than a nice smelling backpacker bum), only able to afford crumbs and live in a hostel dorm. That's great for a few months, but not as a lifestyle. And unless I was really passionate about teaching English or working in a short-term service job (nothing wrong with any of these jobs!), I didn't think that I would feel very satisfied about this method.
So I decided to try my hand at a Real Job (this was a bit over 10 years ago) and see how it worked to try and build an actual career (whatever that was; I can't say a very strong idea when I started). Now about a decade later I am very satisfied with my first career and quite happy that I can leave it behind and look for something that I can be passionate about.
I also want to add few quick notes about my last 10 years. There have been many, many aspects of my job(s) that I have enjoyed and found fulfilling, exciting, interesting and frankly quite fun. These parts are not why I am happy to leave. It is more because than during the past ~5 years, I have realized a few important things;
- for me to advance to a higher level in the company would require a significant investment of time (I'm already about 5-10 years younger than most of my peers).
- more and more, the things I enjoyed about my job had absolutely nothing to do with my professional field or the projects I was working on.
- I am, quite frankly, terrified about being stuck in a rut. Comfortable, well paid and not difficult, but a rut nonetheless. This fear of boring myself is one of my strongest motivators.
Won't I get bored without a job? Won't constant travel be tiring and frankly a bit boring after a few months? How will it be without having a "home" to live in? Won't you and your wife strangle each other, having to be together 24x7? Are you going to shave? Will you miss your toilet? How much will you miss your friends and family?
All good questions, and I certainly don't have answers to many of them... yet! I also am really looking forward to finding out so many more questions that we haven't heard, as well as the process to finding the answers to the ones we have so far. However, it's not these questions that are the important problems that I had to solve for myself, as I thought about taking this new path in life and the things that would challenge both myself, my wife and us as a couple. At a high level, there are three of these problems.
The first problem I focused on solving was the financial one. I wanted two things in order to feel comfortable; 1) a small monthly income and 2) savings for a rainy day. The savings was actually the lesser of the problems, as I don't think it is very difficult to save money if you are aware of what you spend vs your income and can manage your choices wisely. #1 was definitely the most complicated, but eventually we managed to accomplish this via a small rental property.
The end result of solving the first problem was a comfortable amount of savings to prepare for our trip and have enough if we decided it didn't work and wanted to return to "normal life", and to have a basic small monthly income to cover the minimum of expenses (specifically for a frugal and nomadic lifestyle). As we will be traveling via 4x4 and have the ability to sleep in our vehicle or in a campsite (or house-sitting or couchsurfing or... there are many options), our living expenses are quite low.
The second challenge was actually where I spent the most time trying to figure out. What in the world am I going to do with all of my time when I don't have a "real job"? This is what I was (and still am, frankly) most concerned about, because I am definitely not trying to make a business out of traveling itself, nor do I think I would be satisfied only by traveling. In the end, I decided to focus on three main areas (as per usual, in no particular order);
- be Clo's employee in the different projects she will be working on as we travel.
- volunteer on a regular basis (I will expand more on this in another post).
- practice my writing skills. This has long been something I have been interested in and tried to do in different formats, but have never spent the time to practice it seriously.
The third and last one is what I spent the least amount of time trying to solve, but is what is ultimately most important to me. I want to find something to do (a career, job, occupation, hobby, whatever you want to call it) that I am passionate about. It is not that I lack passion. I am passionate about Clo, I am passionate about different hobbies at different times, I am passionate about learning, I am passionate about asking weird questions, I am passionate about eating... but none of these are currently what I spend a lot of my time doing (except perhaps eating and Clo). So in the process of our travels and exploration, this is my primary, long-term goal - to find something that I am passionate about and into which I can throw myself with abandon.
Romantic, selfish and full of new-age poppycock? Perhaps. But if one doesn't spend time on the pursuit of those things which brings satisfaction, of what worth is this singular life we have?
Thank you very much for reading. I'm always interested in your comments and feedback.