First off, I’d like to start by saying that I’m not a writer, in fact I’m pretty self-conscious about my writing ability. But this post is about finding courage and finding it within yourself to do something you normally wouldn’t do. To step out of your comfort zone and go against what society may want you to do, to face your fear of the unknown and overcome that crippling anxiety that has been holding you back for far too long.
I was once that person, stuck for seven years in a cubicle no bigger than a bathroom stall where the walls were pinned with a world map marked with all the places I’d visited, a couple of cliché inspirational quotes that gave me hope but no step by step solution to complex problems, and notes from previous years with important deadlines that were long overdue and probably not even applicable at the time.
It’s not that I was completely miserable, I worked with some really nice people which I considered my work family and I still keep in contact with to this day. I made a steady income which allowed me to pay a mortgage, have a nice car, own the latest iPhone, and eat out on a daily basis. I was comfortable as hell but deep down I knew I was not happy. I knew something had to change, so one day after not so careful planning, I picked up the phone, called my manager and gave put in my one month notice.
Disclosure Alert: This isn’t a get rich quick scheme. I’m not some millionaire entrepreneur living in Bali, traveling around the world at my own will and staying at expensive five star resorts. It’s quite the opposite to be honest. I slowly started freelancing since I moved abroad, I have the freedom to go wherever I want (provided I have the money for it) and I’ve had to stay at countless hostels, homestays and friends’ houses because I am on a budget. About the only true statement is that I’m indeed living in Bali because it’s beautiful and cheap and I am much happier compared to the 9 to 5 days.
It’s like the movie The Matrix. If you had to choose between living in the Matrix where you live in a dream world, where you have a comfortable life with a nice job, a house, a car, and you can enjoy the occasional big juicy steak (movie reference, no offence to my vegetarian readers) unaware that you are living in a false reality or you had to live in the real world where humanity is at war with machines and forced to live underground and on the brink of extinction but you are ALIVE and what you see, feel, smell and touch is all real. Which one would you choose? As Morpheus would say, I can only show you the door, you have to walk through it.
Ok enough of the nerd talk! Perhaps things can be different for you, but I can only talk about my personal experience. But there are certain steps that we can all follow to facilitate the process build stronger courage and take action.
We live in a fast-paced society, there is so much going on around us at all times that it’s easy to get lost in this web of problems. We can become overwhelmed and it may make us want to march straight into the boss’s office, give them the finger and yell “I quit!”. Sometimes we need to slow down, take a step back and view things introspectively. The important thing is that you make a logical decision based on reason and not so much based on an emotional level. You must first try to get to the root of the problem before you can try and solve it. Otherwise, how do you know what is you’re trying to solve?
I can speak from my own experience that when I decided to quit my job and move abroad, deep down I was secretly running away from many things. I was running from the vicious cycle I was stuck in, from pressure that I felt from family and friends, from the uncertainty of what to do with my life. I thought that maybe if I got up and left everything behind that it would solve things. Soon after, while sitting on a mountain top in Koh Samui watching a beautiful sunset, I quickly realized that I still felt alone, I continued with bad habits, and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
Things have gotten much better since then. I did my self-reflection when I was already on the move and perhaps that was the way it was supposed to happen. It’s a never ending learning journey, just remember to stay true and honest with yourself, otherwise you’re just another mindless tourist traveling within your own experience.
So now that we got the meta stuff out of the way. It’s time to start looking at our resources. The first thing you want to calculate is your financial situation. There are 3 things to look at.
Pretty straight forward. If you were to quit your job, how long could you survive with what you have saved up? Maybe you will have to work and save for a while or you can do what I did and withdraw all your money from your 401k. Screw it, I was never going back to corporate America anyway.
The plan here is to eliminate and cut ties with as many expenses as you can. You will no longer need a cell phone contract, a gym membership, a car, car insurance, Amazon Prime, Netflix (well, maybe Netflix) but you get the point.
The goal is to eliminate as many, if not all expenses if possible so that you are not paying towards something unnecessary. Write a list of everything you pay for on a monthly basis and start eliminating them one by one.
Unless you have a lot of money saved up where you can travel for years, chances are you will have to find ways to generate some sort of income in the future. There are a ton of different ways to this, there are all sorts of ways you can make money online or you can find ways of actually working in a different country whether it be legally or illegally. The easiest legal way is to apply for a Working Holiday Visa which is a visa that is valid for a year that allows you to work in the given country. Working Holiday Visas for different countries vary depending on your nationality, but it’s a huge topic that I will cover in a different blog post. This is just an example to get you thinking and give some ideas.
Once you’ve figured how much money you have saved up, you’ve listed out your monthly expenses and start to eliminate them and you have somewhat of an idea how you will generate money in the future you can move on to the step which is having a backup plan.
Before we dive deeper into the subject of plans, I’d like to take this moment to say that although it is important to have plans just be aware that they will almost always change. You may plan to live and work somewhere for just 3 months but then you end up building a great relationship with your coworkers and you end up staying for 5 months. You never know what is going to happen, who you’re going to meet and what type of opportunities will be presented but that is the exact beauty of the entire experience. Keep an open mind and schedule and let yourself go with the flow.
Sometimes plans fall apart, maybe you spent more money your first month than you expected, maybe you got sick and have to return home. You never know what is going to happen. This is why it’s important to at least have a backup plan.
For example, my backup plan if I didn’t succeed was going back to Florida and living with my parents until I was able to get another job and become independent again. I really hoped it would not come to this but at least I had a cushion to fall if things didn’t work out. It at least gave me that peace of mind that I could try and if it didn’t work out worst came to worst I would end up right where I started.
If you don’t try you never know.
Short Term Planning
Like I previously mentioned, you can’t rely on future plans too much but at least give yourself some guidelines. For example, I will go to this city on this date and I will try to find work here until I can save up this much money. This at least gives you an idea of what to do and will keep you on your toes. Don’t get carried away with little details just stick to the overall picture.
Once you’ve reflected on your decision and you feel that what you are doing is right, you’ve laid out all your expenses and calculated how much money you’ve saved up, have a decent plan on where to go and how to generate some income and you have a backup plan in place, then you are ready to make the next move and quit your job.
Everything is about confidence and the way in which you approach it. Courage is not something you stumble upon, it’s something that you have to nourish and build. We all have the courage within us to step out of our comfort zones but sometimes we need to look back at each individual building block in order to build a stronger foundation.
Everyone’s journey is different and I can only share what I’ve learned through my own personal experience. I hope that you can take this advice and use it towards overcoming your fears and building the courage to make what you want out of your own life.
Feel free to leave a comment and share your own experience.
Thanks for reading.