Note from Caleb: Here's a cubicle renegade escape story from Eric Lunsford of Coffee & Warm Showers. This is a story of a guy.
This guy played by the rules his entire life and everything he ever expected to happen - well, happened.
He went to high school, went to college, graduated, and got a career. He moved from his small town where he was raised to the big city and focused solely on his career with the thought that through money and success comes happiness.
By the time he was 26 he was working for the largest action sports retailer in the world (his dream job), had been promoted two times, and was being groomed by the CEO of the company to be the next Director of his dept in the next two years.
He was on a roll.
And then suddenly, he quit.
Maybe this story sounds familiar to some of you? Maybe you're currently in a similar situation or got out of a situation like this.
The guy above was me. This is my story.
In fact, I quit my job on the fast track to a six figure salary, left tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses, and gave up close to $100k in stock. All so I could move to a town of 7,000 in North Idaho with no real plan.
Your Job is Not Who You Are
If you've read anything from Eckart Tolle, there's one saying you've become very accustomed to hearing:
"You are not your mind."
In fact, your mind is there for you to rationalize about things such as fear, threat, and danger but your thoughts are not who you are as a person. Your thoughts are almost completely devoid of emotion and most of the time listening to your gut and emotion is the right decision.
And your job is no different. You may start to head down a career path that doesn't speak to you, but you keep going because what are you going to do? Quit?
You start to believe that what you do is who you are. If you analyze risk for a department or company then I feel bad for you. As time goes on you will become more and more risk averse in your own personal life too. Possibly to the point that your life becomes boring, even to you.
Your Job May Be Smothering Your True Self
There's a question I get a lot about why I quit my fast tracked career in the big city and then moved my family to a small resort town in Idaho. And honestly, there is no one reason. But if I had to sum it into one thought it'd be this.
The person I wanted to be, my ideal self, was being smothered by this person I "should" be. Making the conscious decision to do what feels right is how I wanted to live my life and the decision to quit my job was the most important step.
The minute I decided I was going to quit my job my true self, my true reason for existence, made itself present. Need proof?
- The month I decided completely that I would quit my job, I went skydiving for the first time.
- The day after my last day of work, I hiked up Mt. Rainier and snowboarded down.
- I love helping people so I finally decided to offer mentoring to others.
- I have lent my home to couchsurfers with a cause.
- I have given away the majority of what I own (and still going) because it didn't add any additional value to my life.
- I just bought a motorcycle to rebuild (keep in mind I am not mechanically inclined nor do I even know how to ride a motorcycle).
- In a week from writing this I am taking my first (of many) flying courses.
- I just received Spanish DVDs to learn Spanish as quickly as possible.
- I'm building a website that I hope will radically transform the retail industry and leverage consumerism to give back to those in need.
- And in fact, while I am writing this post I am sitting in a treehouse in Nicaragua listening to the howler monkeys and ocean waves crashing below me.
You could be asking yourself, couldn't you have done most of that while still working in your job? And my answer to that for myself and many of us is: no.
Many of us may think that working in a job you don't enjoy is a waste of time and you're right. But the underlying issue with being a slave to a career you don't want is that it smothers your true existence.
In fact, it was possible to do many of those things without quitting my job, but not probable.
I couldn't have gone skydiving because I was too stressed at work for the added stress of hurling myself out of a plane.
I couldn't have hiked up Mt. Rainier because I usually worked weekends too. (Not to mention that Sundays were reserved for me being depressed about the upcoming week of hell.)
And I wouldn't have made a trip to Nicaragua because it's the second poorest country in Latin America and I don't know anyone else who has been there before.
You see, when you're in a career you don't enjoy it's easy to put off the stuff you do enjoy or want to try.
I gave up the money, career, prestige, and more because I wanted the one thing that truly mattered in this short time I'm here. My life.
My advice for you?
I'm not saying quit your job tomorrow, but what I am saying is to take a good hard look at the life you lead.
Do you have frequent yearnings to do your own thing? Do you long to live the life of friends or family? Do you wake up in the morning dreading heading into the office?
If so, maybe it's time for a change. You can start by taking baby steps.
Start something on the side. Start really researching that business idea you have today. Start networking with others who are in the same place you wish to be in one day.
Or hell, be like me and just quit your job, cut the cord, and head into the world of unknown. Believe me, it's a tough road, but there is nothing more fulfilling then taking your life back and mixing your passions to truly build a career you love.
My mantra: I may be poor in money (for now :)), but I'm rich in life. And I wouldn't change that for anything.