Have you ever thought about getting up from your desk, quitting your job and traveling the world? It’s something that many people think about, but few actually do it! Most people are not risk-takers. They prefer to dwell in an unhappy life rather than take a chance on something new. In the coming weeks, the new film Eat Pray Love based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert will have women everywhere planning a career break.
In 2005, I did just that… after many years as a TV news producer, I thought about walking out and traveling to Paris to study photography. Well, a friend not only supported my dream, but he encouraged and financed part of it. He bought me a 35 mm camera to photograph life in Paris.
Unlike Gilbert, I wasn’t in a position to just get up from my cubicle and quit leaving a pay check behind. However, I did get smart about it. I found out that my company (a major cable TV network) would reimburse me for a photography class. So I jetted off to France for a vacation or mini career sabbatical that was long overdue. I spent part of my summer at Spèos, a photography school in Paris... the city of light!
Turns out, it was the single most important trip that I would ever take. I learned so much about myself while following my personal path to happiness. It was also the first lesson that I learned in controlling my fate. And there were plenty moments where self-indulgent activities, self-reflection and a love for life took center stage.
I used my camera to tell my story instead of a journal. I made friends and spent my days roaming around Paris working on my photography projects. I also spent much of my time enjoying the company of my new friends. It was très chic but in an unconventional kind of way. I still hang out with my friends in Paris, when I go back for a visit.
When I returned to my life in Chicago, things were different. The indifference about my career was gone and replaced with clarity. It was time to leave my TV life and seek out new opportunities that brought me to my highest happiness. A few months later, I was out of the world of TV news and investigating the world of travel writing. Since that time, I’ve been to three continents and I’m working on two more this year! I’ve written about luxury travel, spas, health, wellness and lifestyle topics in places like Europe, South America and Canada. And I don’t have any regrets! I even learned how to build an entirely new career by using my skills in other areas of strategic communication.
I’ve spent the last few years (in between projects in public relations) traveling the globe like a socialite without a trust fund! You may not be a travel writer but that should not stop you from discovering something about your life. You may seek balance and understanding while asking, “What should I do with my life?” During those moments where there are no walls up and you’re completely unguarded… you’ll find yourself happier, healthier and FREE while uncovering the answer.
Here are 4 tips to help you follow your DREAMS:
We can’t all just up and quit our jobs, but we can plan time off and set off on a destination that makes up happy or offers something new to learn about ourselves.
If you don’t have a trust fund or unlimited funds, you’ll need to plan your financial future because living away from home for a certain period of time can be costly. You may also have to cover your own expenses at home while you're away. Therefore, you should save as much as possible and find other ways to cut your budget. You should consider renting out your house or subletting your apartment to free up cash. You should also pay off your bills and sell any items that you don’t want and stash the extra in your travel fund account.
-Research your destination(s) and learn as much as you can about the culture
There’s so much information in the library and on the internet… there’s no excuse not to know what the people, place and culture of your home away from home offers. Be sure to talk to other people who have done what you’re trying to do. They’ll have plenty of advice and information that will help you along your journey. Be prepared and expect the unexpected.
-Make it happen… and Let Yourself Go!
Don’t use the “I don’t have time” as an excuse to talk yourself out of following your dream. Just do it and let yourself go in the process! Be open.
While you're away... be sure to stay in contact with your friends and loved ones at home. Enjoy your journey!
Are you ready for a career-break?