The One Where I Quit My Job And Went Travelling

Two things that I wholeheartedly believe:

  • Always trust your gut feeling.
  • As long as you have unwavering faith in yourself, you’ll be fine.

Ok, story time!

At the start of this year I took a big risk: I quit my job and went travelling across South East Asia for a couple of months.

In terms of personal goals, travelling had been on my to-do list since I graduated in 2013. In terms of my professional life, to put it plainly and simply, I no longer felt motivated by my job. I was stuck in a rut, and as a result I felt immensely frustrated. Moreover, those feelings of discontent were slowly but surely starting to seep in to all other aspects of my life. My general mood was irritable, the slightest thing could set me off and I knew exactly what the underlying issue was: I needed a fresh start. The only thing stopping me was the fear of diving in to the unknown without the assurance of a safety net waiting there to catch me.

Reckless. That’s what my parents and some of my friends were adamant that I would be if I quit my job without a back-up plan. So I listened to them. Of course they were right; apply for jobs on the side while you’re still employed, that’s what everyone does, that’s the RIGHT thing to do.

The only problem with that was that I still wasn’t getting anywhere. All of my applications were falling through at the final stages. And I only had myself to blame. Truth be told I wasn’t really putting my heart and soul in to those applications for two reasons. Firstly, I’d burnt out by this point, I could feel it. Secondly, I was aware that either way I would still be getting a pay cheque at the end of the month from my existing employer. Plus, I genuinely got along with my colleagues and loved the office and location I was in. To put it in a nutshell, I knew I should be doing better but I got comfortable. Yes, I wanted a new job, a new challenge, but I didn’t NEED it.

So this self-destructive cycle continued for about a year, until I pretty much reached breaking point. I’d continuously try to distract myself with long weekend trips away with friends, but each time I got back I always reverted in to irritated mode again, still yearning for more. And waking up at 7am to catch the train in to work was becoming more and more painful. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’d lost all motivation.

So I took the plunge.

I quit my job and booked my trip to Asia. It all happened very quickly.

[Although I must clarify, by this point I’d saved a fair amount of money to fund my travels as well as to ensure that I’d be ok without a job for at least a few months, so it wasn’t the most reckless thing anyone’s ever done, in hindsight, it was pretty well thought out!]

One of my best friends was in a similar position and so we decided to do it all together, much to our families’ dismay.

They couldn’t believe that we were being so irresponsible and selfish. We weren’t thinking of the consequences of our actions, nobody would be willing to employ us again, we weren’t bothered about our futures. But we were. Little did they know that we’d both endured so many stressful, sleepless nights considering every single possible outcome, going back and forth in our heads until we were 100% ready and raring to go!

We both had these gut feelings that this was the right thing to do. It was difficult to explain to our rightly concerned friends and family, because it couldn’t really be put in to words. There was just this mutual sentiment that by doing this we would be setting in motion a wave of positive changes in our lives. And lo and behold, after quitting her job my friend immediately secured another one which she agreed to start upon her return from our travels!

My path, however, wasn’t as smooth.

The day after I left the office for the final time, we jetted off to Bangkok, and as soon as we got out there I started to feel the pressure of needing to secure employment too. So I decided to be sensible and apply for a few roles. My biggest fear was to get home and be ‘the unemployed girl’, sitting at home twiddling her thumbs for months on end. I wanted security too (my parents had drilled the necessity of that in to my head enough times during my 25 years!). And so I managed to get a couple of Skype interviews, which I conducted sitting in various coffee shops while we were in Hanoi, Vietnam. I also completed some writing assessments in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Nothing quite panned out though. And that’s when I started to hear my Mum’s voice in the back of my head. “See I told you, this was a bad idea”. But naturally, I blocked it out. It wasn’t a bad idea, far from it. I was having the time of my life journeying across six countries in South East Asia and experiencing things that I’d never even imagined could become a reality!

And yet still, as hard as I tried to ignore it, that worry of will I get a job when I get home remained. So I took a time out.

I was in Nha Trang, Vietnam walking along the beach just before sunset when I had a word with myself. I told myself to just stop, take in my surroundings and relax. To trust my gut and my capabilities. Yes, I gave myself one of those cheesy pep talks! You can do this Sharan, you can do anything you set your mind to, believe in yourself! And weirdly enough it actually worked, because deep down I knew it was all true. Well when I say it worked, I mean for the remainder of my trip any way. I successfully pushed that fear to the back of my mind and trusted that everything would work out. I became present, enjoying our travelling adventure to the fullest and I have absolutely no regrets on that front. It was an AMAZING experience!

Once we returned home, yes you guessed it, reality kicked in. I was unemployed.

Everybody around me had a job, they had a routine, they had a reason to wake up in the mornings. I wanted to get back in the race and so I knew that I needed to pull my finger out. It was make or break time. My head was clear now and I knew exactly what I wanted. That feeling of being free and ready for a new start had me back on track and back in to my ‘beast mode!’ I was filled with hope again!

So over the next two weeks I applied like crazy to every job that caught my eye, making sure that I was genuinely interested in each one that I was applying for. I didn’t want to get stuck in something that I didn’t enjoy, otherwise what was the point of all this?! Setting my alarm for 8.30am every day and setting myself a target of getting at least three applications done a day, I slowly started to hear back from employers.

Four interviews in one week, I was ready to do this. I prepared extensively for each one, I had no excuse to justify why I shouldn’t smash each and every one of these interviews, I had all day every day to prepare after all. By hook or by crook, I was coming out of this tunnel with a victory. All the while I could feel the tension from everyone around me, waiting, holding their breaths until I had good news for them; it was intense to say the least! But for the most part it motivated me to keep going and stay focused until I got what I wanted. Of course I had moments when the pressure got a little too much and I had to blow off some steam. Whether that was by going for a brisk walk by myself, or a night out on the town, or blasting music and singing around the house at the top of my lungs while everyone was at work!

But guess what? Two weeks later I got an offer for the job that I wanted the most and which I’m genuinely, over the moon excited about. Hallelujah! I let out a long sigh of relief after I got that call, because I knew I could do it! I knew I could show everybody! And most importantly, I no longer feel stuck! I’m taking steps to forge a career that I can be proud of, one step at a time.

And so I repeat, two things that I wholeheartedly believe:

  • Always trust your gut feeling.
  • As long as you have unwavering faith in yourself, you’ll be fine.

Like I’ve said in previous posts, sometimes in life you have to take risks and go against the grain, even when everyone around you is certain that it’s a ‘bad’ idea. Follow your instincts, because at the end of the day you know what’s best for you and as long as you are your biggest cheerleader, nothing, and I mean nothing, can stand in your way. 😀

15 replies

  1. Thank you! This is wonderful. I hope your new job is fulfilling and that you find wonderful coworkers and a healthy work environment.
    Cheers!

  2. I’m glad it all worked out how you wanted in the end 🙂 I totally agree that things have a way of working themselves out! Congratulations and all the best for the new job! 🙃

  3. You’ve got the right combination of smarts and drive lady! And you write in a way that keeps my attention. Thanks for the follow ….and how could I not reciprocate 😊

  4. First of all, thank you for sharing your experience because it left me motivated! I’m inspired by your courageous decision to give up something that was not made for you. For a better future, you neglected every sort of criticizms. Brave! Live your life 😊

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