I just quit my dream job to travel. Whether I am being daring or reckless remains to be seen.
Almost two years ago an amazing job fell into my lap. Among my portfolio of clients, I had done some freelance copywriting for FlightNetwork.com. One day I followed up about the prospect of more assignments only to receive the reply, “We’re hiring a copywriter. Are you interested?” Inside of a week I went from being self-employed and not in the market for a job, to having a full-time position at one of Canada’s largest OTAs.
In many respects it is my dream job. I get to sit quietly and write about my favourite subject all day. I am paid a decent salary that I don’t have to chase after anyone to collect, and I seldom work overtime. I am a member of a great team with intelligent, fun people who brighten my days. As the contributing editor of their blog I get to write about whatever wacky shit I like and crack stupid jokes, and they love me for it. Yet something’s missing.
In January 2012 my friend Roseitta and I were out for dinner when from left field she tossed out the question “How would you like to go to Easter Island?” with a slightly forced nonchalance, as though she’d been saving this question for the right moment. Unbeknownst to her, when I was about 10 years old I had been mesmerized by the centrefold from my National Geographic World magazine, depicting the moai of Easter Island at twilight with eyes aglow in the moonlight. I had taken it out of the magazine and hung it on my bedroom wall. I can still visualize what it looked like. And so began our conspiracy to tour South America.
To make a long story short, although I was originally told that the time off I needed for the trip wouldn’t be an issue, months later it became a very big deal. It boiled down to either cancelling the trip or quitting my job.
I’d like to claim that I saw the light straight away and knew the right path instantly. The truth is that I agonized over it a great deal.
I have had my eye on location independence for some time now. Although I enjoy my job at FlightNetwork, the one thing it lacks, and which has chafed me from the start, is the opportunity to travel and be master of my own schedule again. I have an unhealthy obsession with the amount of vacation days I have left. Previously my plan was to stay at FlightNetwork for another year and replenish my coffers after the trip while building up this blog and my freelancing business to the point where I could begin my career as a digital nomad in early 2014 with a trip to Australia.
After much hand-wringing and deliberation I made my choice. Actually, I did know early on in my heart that the trip trumped any job, but I needed to reason my way into giving myself permission to do it. It is not easy to buck the trend and give up a good job while constantly being bombarded with messages about how scarce they are these days. My parents’ generation certainly don’t understand why anyone would turn their back on stable employment in favour of the uncertainty of self-employment (Dad’s advice was to apologize to my boss and wait until I retire to travel.) It took a long time to shake the notion that I am being irresponsible or selfish, and to fathom how my mortgage would continue to get paid despite a two-thirds reduction in household income.
Ultimately I realized that there was only one choice, and that is the path of least regret. Somewhere down the line I might come to regret leaving this great job, and this is by no means the easy choice, but I already know that I would regret passing up this trip. If I did, every time I had a bad day at the office my inner ten-year-old would scream “I gave up Easter Island for THIS?!?!” Eventually it would turn to resentment and before long it would not be my dream job anymore. Besides that, we’d already been planning the trip for months, and even taken some tango lessons. I’d saved mercilessly for the better part of a year, and every time I was tempted to spend money on something I wanted, I would utter the watchword “Easter Island” to myself and go without.
A New Chapter
This all went down in August and September. Once I had made my decision I had to bide my time until I tendered my resignation. I knew things would get weird if gave too much notice, and I needed to work until the end of the year to save up some money. I continued to work as hard as ever and contribute ideas as though nothing had changed. I don’t think anyone caught on that my leaving was in the cards. The hardest part of all was not being able to talk about my trip anymore. I’m a very passionate person, and travel is my biggest passion. It was so difficult to keep this under wraps.
Finally, I gave them a month’s notice and the countdown began. Yesterday was my last day on the job. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.