I didn’t think I was part of some large movement. I just had finally worked up the courage to walk away from a job that no longer brought out the best in me. I didn’t have a job lined up. I had a supportive wife and four children who were ready to go on an adventure of a lifetime and see just what God had in store.
A lot can happen in a year. Just ask me. A year ago, I made the biggest decision of my life: I resigned from my job of 23 years. It was a scary move, but it was also one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I never thought to ask “Are we making a good decision?” I didn’t look at this decision as what I was giving up but instead what could be gained. If you’re thinking about making a big change in your life, take it from someone who took this risk with four kids, a wife, no job, and a dream to chase.
What Did I Do?
We donated just about all of our possessions, sold our house, and decided to take a year traveling in our RV with 4 kids. The proceeds from our house were just enough to fund our adventure for a year. Good decision, right? Sure we could have invested our proceeds, bet it all on red in Vegas, or some other decision that seems a lot more logical. This decision was entirely out of character for us. We don’t like to live on the edge and take risks (the whole RV thing was a huge risk).
I had always dreamed of being a writer and this was my chance. I’d have the time and traveling provided us tons of content. I already had some content for a book idea on parenting autistic children. I actually got the first freelancing job I applied for. Like a BOSS!! Writing for an upstart RV Engineer website for $25 per article. You can almost hear the money truck backing up. Beep….beep…
I would have done it for free. It was something I loved. The researching, being creative, sharing knowledge, and stories. I think my first article took me about 10 hours before edits were requested. I was hooked. I loved the challenge, the work, and feeling like I had a purpose again. Who cares if I was making less than I was at the hardware store I worked at when I was 13.
Well 4 kids and a wife will eventually care. This wouldn’t be sustainable for us but for now, I was doing what I loved and I needed to find a way to make it work.
What Did I Learn?
I learned a lot about myself in the past year. I learned that I am resilient. That I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. That I am a great problem solver.
I also learned that career, money, and things don’t bring happiness. At least not sustainable happiness. What does bring happiness is relationships (with our spouse, kids, friends). I truly believe I’m a better friend, father, and husband now.
So what did I learn?
- Money isn’t everything (duh) but dang kids are expensive
- Find your passion and do something with it
- Take risks (even crazy risks)
- Relationships are key to happiness
- You are capable of more than you think
- Be a great problem solver (life is full of them)
- Happiness doesn’t come from career or money, it comes from relationships. Pursue what you’re passionate about and the money will follow. I’m living proof of that.
I learned that being with my family, teaching my kids, and doing life together was something I wanted more of. Not just quantity but also quality. My happiness from my work now spills over into all of these areas of my life in a good way.
If you’re feeling career-burnout, take a step back and assess what would make you happy. It may not be the traditional “career” path. For us, it was traveling and spending time with family and believing that God had a plan. Would I do it again? We did it well enough that I want to do it again so yes I would.
What Should You Do?
If you are still reading and actually considering my advice then I applaud your sense of adventure. Talk to some other people. Seriously. Ask them what they think you would enjoy doing. Be honest with yourself. I wasn’t for a long time. I was unhappy at my job for several years and it really stole a lot of joy from several areas of my life.
I’m glad we didn’t dip our toe in. This sort of forced relocation from complacency was what I needed to motivate myself. It also made me realize how grateful I should be for all that God has blessed us with.
Write to yourself. This is less weird than talking to yourself. I wrote myself a letter to myself so I could capture exactly why I was quitting a secure job. I reminded myself not to look at something I was quitting but something I was starting.
I’m still chasing work life balance as I navigate homeschooling, work, and life. For now, I’ve got my dream job and am living life to the fullest. If you aren’t loving what you do, then I encourage you to be honest with yourself. Be wise but be courageous. Most people lead lives of quiet desperation. Find your passion and follow your dreams. Learn and be wise and don’t give up on yourself.