Let this post be the first in a new segment, “5 things.” With this, I will focus on various themes surrounding 5 things…ideally it will revolve around much more interesting topics, such as… ”5 foods to try in (fill in the blank),” “5 best ways to entertain yourself on a 20 hr bus ride…,” “5 highlights of …” or “5 cocktails to sip while in …”etc. But until I actually leave Wisconsin, leave my parents house–just bare with me.
For starters–here are five main things I’ve discovered, learned/come to the conclusion during the last 8-9 months as I planned for my departure.
1. Never think about big life decisions first thing in the morning.
If I had made all my biggest life decisions during my morning shower, I’d be living at home with my parents for the rest of my life. I learned this early on. I’d go to sleep excited about life and the prospect of new adventures. I’d wake up and zombie-walk into the shower, pissed off and exhausted, thinking “I don’t want to go to work–I don’t want to go ANYWHERE.” In the winter, this was especially bad. But almost always, by 10 AM, I was excited again. If I found myself thinking too deeply or seriously, too early in the day, I learned to push those thoughts aside until later in the afternoon.
2. There is a constant mental battle that occurs before every major decision.
This follows on par with #1. Your mind will try to talk you out of every big decision you make. Usually the riskier the change, the more powerful and convincing your inner voice will be. The more exhausted or stressed out you are in your daily life, the stronger this negative voice will be. We are creatures of habit, and we are creatures of comfort. Break the routine and leave your comfort zone–you can bet there will be a heated inner battle. For every major controlled/chosen change, give yourself time. But not too much–too much time and you’re more likely to lose your focus or excitement and abandon your decision. You’ll be more likely to talk yourself out of it. If you give yourself too little, you may completely overwhelm or emotionally exhaust yourself. Find that happy medium. Anywhere from 3-8 months, depending on the scale of change.
3. No matter what your goal or dream, there’s a “support team” on the internet waiting for you to find them.
I don’t personally know another female who quit her job and headed to South America. But I feel like I know a few of them. It makes any big decision so much easier if you feel like there are people out there leading the way. And chances are–there are. You just have to find them. The internet makes this easier than ever. The more I delved into the topic, the more leaders/role models I found.
I found Ayngelina’s Blog, chronicling her journey of quitting her comfortable life, hopping on a one-way flight to Mexico, and making her way down the Pan American–all by herself. I read Stephanie’s Twenty Something Travel. I followed another kick-ass lady, Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads, who left on her RTW trip in 2008, and still hasn’t quite returned. I stumbled on Christine’s blog, and found one of the first blogs to really inspire me. When I read her series 30 ways in 30 days Redesign Your Life and Travel the World, I felt like I hit the jackpot.
Almost anything I’ve ever worried about in the process of planning, these ladies–these friends I’ve never met–had covered somewhere in their blogs: how to save, how to plan, how/what to pack, etc. It’s a big reason (among others) why I feel so strongly now about keeping a blog.
4. Quitting is hard. But never as hard as you imagined.
I had anxiety about quitting my job 6 months before I did it. It’s never been easy for me to quit anything. I stayed on the swim team until I graduated high school, despite that fact that I basically hated it. So quitting my first real job was no light matter for me. Because I am me, I researched the best ways to quit. I read other peoples resignation letters, I read business articles on how to quit respectively and responsibly. Then I circled a day on my calendar and decided that would be the day I pull the trigger.
Three weeks before that day, I was in a team meeting, and for whatever reason, I was hit by an incredible urge to give my notice; I got hives, I started sweating. I knew I had to just get it over with. So I pulled my boss aside and out came my plan. I’m not sure what I had been nervous about; what was he going to do, yell at me? Who cares. All of my bosses were incredibly cool about it–supportive even. When it comes down to it, almost everyone everywhere is replaceable in the workforce. If you were a good employee, of course they’ll be sad to see you go. But chances are, they’ll understand and respect your right to change the direction of your life. Most of the time we take ourselves way too seriously.
If you feel strongly enough about quitting–the act of actually doing it will provide you with an astounding amount of relief; likely far bigger than the satisfaction you would have gotten had you “stuck it out.” We aren’t getting any younger … SO just do it! Get it over with it, and don’t rack yourself up worrying about as much as I did.
5. The art of life is constantly readjusting to your surroundings.
I’m completely convinced that the better you are at adjusting to change, the happier and more successful you will be. Isn’t life just a series of big changes? Many of these changes occur while we’re in the 18-30 age range (i.e leaving home for the first time, moving, first jobs, first serious relationships, marriage, babies, house-buying). If you can learn to embrace change early on in that period, and keep that attitude, the better off you’ll be. Even before it occurs, change can be uncomfortable, awkward, sometimes even a little terrifying; with “before” being the key word. I’ve learned that often once the change is completed, I barely look back. I’ve already adjusted. The ol’ “attitude is everything” motto, we learn in middle school, is at the foundation for learning to embrace change.