It was 2010. My job, somehow, had become my life.
I was determined to get the ‘guaranteed’ promotion
my manager was dangling in front of me.
If only I did this or that… I was doing it, it didn’t matter.
In the mornings, I would be up before sunrise, scramble to get ready, drop my daughter to school and be in the office by 7.30 a.m.
Lunch was at my desk.
At the end of each day, I’d pick my daughter up and head straight into my home office to work for the next few hours. By seven, I’d have inhaled a glass of wine as I moaned about how much my job sucked, making a quick 30-minute meal (thanks to Racheal Ray) only to then sit in front of the television for hours, with my laptop burning my legs. Don’t even ask me what played on the idiot box.
To add to the joy, every month I would be the lucky recipient of a couple of completely debilitating migraines. I had heartburn daily. Exercise was something I did rushing between meetings, or walking to and from my car.
Something had to change.
I needed to get away. External forces pushed our family through a rough time and my daughter was heading into the teenage vacuum way too fast.
It seemed like a good time for a girly getaway. I needed months to recuperate from the insanity, but in reality, I only had two weeks.
A road trip with my ‘baby girl’ seemed just the thing. My husband stayed behind. He knew I needed the time with my daughter.
Who knew that road trip would change the course of my life?
Our destination was Mount Rushmore. But our focus was on the journey.
We took the long way. We made a big loop between Texas (where we lived at that time) and South Dakota.
We created playlists to listen to. We played road games. We talked. We listened to audio books. We explored places neither of us had been before. Our daily mantra kept things fresh and interesting: Try Something New.
I was getting to know my daughter all over again. And just as importantly, I was getting to know myself.
Over and over, examples slapped me in in the face.
A sandstorm hit White Sands National Park while my daughter, Natalie, was exploring one sand dune ahead of me. I watched as she screamed as millions of grains of sand stung her body like needles. Utter helplessness engulfed me. (She was okay, but vowed she’d never do THAT again!).
I watched as Natalie belly-laughed, tears streaming down her face, when a donkey stuck his head in the car in South Dakota.
And when her face finally lit up when she saw the Presidential heads at Mount Rushmore. (Mount Rushmore was her idea.)
As the miles churned by, I realized that life was short.
I was missing out on mine.
By the time we got back to Texas, 4800km later, I made the conscious decision to change my life. I couldn’t keep burning the candle at both ends.
This roadtrip taught me just how much I’d lost in my life. I thought I was working to make our lives better, but the fact was, I was making it worse.
I was driving myself into an early grave. How would it be better if I wasn’t around?
A year later, our lives changed. I quit my 70 hour-a-week, high stress job.
I attended every one of my daughter’s events. I got to know her friends a little more. I walked her to school every morning. I spent time really engaging with my daughter.
I found my passions again, reigniting them into a business (hello travel blog and photography business).
My marriage benefited. My husband and I rekindled our relationship. We made time for each other, we had time for each other.
Here we are five years later.
My daughter and I take a trip together every year. Just us. No matter how much life may try and suck us back in and make us all crazy-busy, those trips reconnect us again.
Have I had a day where I have regretted my decision to quit my corporate cubicle? Nope. Not one.
If I can do it, so can you!
It takes a lot of courage to quit a corporate job. To walk away from job security, to leave the benefits of a steady income, medical insurance. retirement etc…
Oh yeah, a LOT of courage. Was I scared? Abso-freakin-lutely.
As I went through the process of changing my life, this thought kept going through my head:
Is losing your life, your soul, your relationships, really worth staying in this job?
It took a road trip to make me realise what I was missing in my life.
I can’t say I was lucky to be able to quit my job without having another to go to. No. I had worked hard – damn hard –to have the financial cushion to be able to make this choice. I was debt free, save for the mortgage, and I worked my way to get there.
If you want to know how I quit my corporate job, I outline it in more detail with our post “Share Your Dream. Make It Happen.” There, I talk about setting a Goal, making a Commitment and then moving forward with the Plan.
I follow this every.single.day. No day goes by without working toward reaching my goal: To travel full time.
Right now, I have the flexibility to travel whenever I want. But I can’t travel full time – yet.
My commitment and priority are still with my daughter. Just as she’s focused on her education, I’m focused on making my business successful so we can continue to be location independent and have the business be financially sustainable so that we can do this for the rest of our lives.
There is no plan to return to corporate. Ever. I have found what I’m meant to do with my life.
If I can give up a secure, well-paying corporate job, work out the legal minefield of a custody agreement, and move my family to the other side of the world to make my life matter again, you can free yourself and find the path to your dreams too.
Life is short. It’s time to make YOUR life matter.