Contemplating

Considering a career break can be overwhelming as fears and questions flood your head. You need some inspiration - well, we have it! We will discuss the circumstances that brought you to this point and examine ways that you can take advantage of channeling them into a career break. You can also find out the many benefits of taking a career break (trust us, there are many) and be inspired by hearing others' stories of self-discovery, inner-growth, and re-examining goals.

Check out articles in the following categories:
Circumstances | Benefits | Supporters | Testimonials

Recent Posts

Making the Leap
Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was a child, introduced to photography by my dad. My sister and I grew up with his Bronica ever present, despite our “Daaaad” (with whiny tone) protestations. I’m glad he persevered because we now have a priceless archive of thousands of slides showing our family and the countries we grew up in from the 1960s to the 80s when my sister and I left home for college.

I love photography. I love the process of creating a photograph: visualising the final result, making the shot, developing the film (yes, I still shoot on film) and then coaxing the final image out, gently shaping it during the printing stage. I also love being outdoors and walking. Mick (hubby) is also into photography, which makes things much easier. We focus on landscapes and wildlife.

I’ve had a day job as a project manager for 25 years. The thought of completely walking away from the corporate world and becoming a full time photographer has come and gone many times over those years. It hasn’t been practical, but as I trundle to work year after year, in the same zombie-like state as the thousands of other black-clad corporate commuters shoving their way off of train platforms and onto London Underground Tube platforms, my soul rebels.

Now, finally, we’re calling time on that life, even if only temporarily. We’re launching our On Your Doorstep photographic project which aims to (1) celebrate the great British landscape and (2) encourage people everywhere to get out and see the natural beauty that’s around them. For more information, check out our blog.

So, Mick, Bea (the dog), and I are packing our tent and heading out for a while. I can’t wait! We have some broad thoughts about where to go (The Lake District in England and various locations in Scotland), but we haven’t made any firm plans beyond the first week. The sense of freedom from not having every day mapped out is tremendous!

That’s not to say planning isn’t required; ours just focuses on what we need to stay warm, safe, and healthy rather than travel logistics.

Research

  • We’ve researched places that look interesting all over Scotland. We probably won’t get to them all, but it’s good to know. where we stand a good chance of getting the kinds of images we want. We’re also banking on local knowledge and lots of exploring to find hidden gems.
  • We’ve ordered a selection of good walking maps (Ordnance Survey).
  • I’ve found a couple of darkroom(s) in Scotland where I can at least make contact prints while we’re away, otherwise I’ll drown when we get back. Mick, being all digital, only needs to worry about having enough space on the external backup drive.

Packing

  • We have a well-worn packing list with everything from tents to smaller items like salt and pepper in the cook box (I love cooking).
  • British weather can be unpredictable, so we’re packing for cold, wet, snowy, sunny, hot and windy
  • Sturdy walking boots and good trekking poles go without saying.
  • Our emergency kit with compass, whistle, foil blanket and much more is ready. Every year the weather strands hikers walking the munros, even in Spring and mostly they’re not prepared.

Health

  • We’ve packed bug juice for midge season in Scotland as well as aspirin, bandages, antiseptic wipes, bandaids, etc.
  • We’ve ordered extra supplies of our prescription meds.
  • Bea has had her check-up and vaccinations, and we have tick treatments to take away.

Home

  • We’ve arranged house sitters.
  • We’ve arranged for our mail to be held at the Post Office while we’re away.
  • Our bills are all paid automatically; our bank’s great iPhone app allows us to manage our money.

Keeping in touch

  • Our website and blog are up
  • A Google custom map, embedded in our blog, will allow family and friends to follow our journey. You’ll find us on our website or Twitter @Thurmanovich.

This “just go” approach isn’t for everybody. We’ve quit our jobs, so we don’t have any guaranteed income to come back to; we’re making this our opportunity to really get our photography business going. We can supplement our income with temporary work where we need to, and even if we have to go back to “day jobs” for a while, the new business will have benefitted from some undivided attention at the crucial start-up phase.

Sometimes you have to close one door before another can open.

Boomers Know: Vacations Waste Time!
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Did you know that Americans left 577,212,000 unused vacation days on the table last year? Now THAT’s a stat to be proud of! And since Baby Boomers still comprise 31% of the workforce (despite that the youngest of them is 50), we owe them a big thanks for their outstanding live-to-work ethic! 

It gets better. 49% of Boomers intend not to retire until they’re 66 or older. And 10% say they’ll never retire at all! And to think we’re wasting online ink here trying to promote career breaks? The average employed American takes only 10 days off—and refuses to use the remaining 4. We’ve got 144 million workers; you do the math! 

So let’s stop this balderdash about the beauty of breaks, retirement (temporary or otherwise), and time off. Let’s dispel some myths about this nirvana-utopia that one allegedly lands at when, say, you pack your bags and fly to Vietnam or Cabo or San Fran or wherever.

Myth #1: Vacations offer rest.

This, of course, is poppycock—since vacations stress the already over-stressed routine, require months of planning, days of packing, and hours of travel—and often on jets with bad air, dangerous food (if any at all), not to mention seats the size of one butt cheek. Once “there,” simple but essential acts like procuring Pizza Hut and finding a decent toilet can be a chore. The R&R happens when you finally get home and collapse back into your harried life. 

Myth #2. Vacations are affordable.

You kidding me? You gotta buy gas to drive anywhere, if only to the family cabin. And what about sandals and straw hats and Tommy Bahama shirts for the cruise or beach? Plus airfare and sleeps? Better to save your hard-earned cash for more important things, like big vehicles, Fleetwood Mac reunion tickets, and the newest iPhone.

Myth #3. You meet interesting people.

Nonsense! Vacationers (and the people who serve/sell to them) are unrealistic dweebs who like to set aside sanity for careless silliness. Take this guy. I recently met him while vacationing (gasp!) on St. John. He entertains lazy grinners and diners, makes guitars out of cigar boxes, and has been mastering his own musical style for years. Poor guy. He could have been a banker in North Dakota and gotten rich on the oil boom. 

Myth #4. You bond with family.

Yeah, so what? Who doesn’t get enough family—especially Boomers (who have had to deal with them for decades). Why make sandcastles with your grandkids when you already spent the holidays spoiling them? Stay home and stay tuned in and turned on. Find some Gilligan’s Island reruns and pay close attention to those hemorrhoid-remedy commercials! 

Myth #5. Vacations encourage exploration.

Ya sure, you can leave your comfort zone and go swim with man-stinging rays or climb rocks. But those are slippery slopes—and you could get your eye poked out. Stay on the job, I say, and keep up with your BookFace and Social Security and GetIntoMe accounts (when the boss isn’t looking). There’s SO much to explore in the office and online! 

This topic grows more vital daily—as frozen Americans fly recklessly away for warm “escapes” to potential doom and destruction, and others begin to ponder summer BreakAways. 

But you know better, right? Good! So stop dreaming. Stop scheming. And stop saving your money. Thank you!

Now, get back to work. 

Kirk Horsted blogs at MakeYourBreakAway.com and offers speeches and seminars too. Since 1990, he’s taken five sabbaticals ranging from 35 to 355 days, from Grandma’s farm (SD) to Waiheke (NZ). He’s embarked alone, with partner, and with his perfect children. When he must, he works as a writer, creative consultant, and college teacher.

Don’t Be Too Scared to Follow Your Dream
Thursday, March 13th, 2014

I am often asked what the impetus was for my sailing journey.

Truth be told, I’ve always been drawn to water, from my youth growing up on Lake Michigan to my travels along the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I started taking sailing lessons in my early adulthood, but something ‘more important’ always diverted my attention away from sailing (e.g. work, more work, relationships, shiny silver things, etc). It wasn’t until the last dream I was living (moving to New York City and establishing a career) had long since become a reality and had left me feeling stuck, that I began craving a new adventure.

I seriously began considering the possibility of a global circumnavigation in 2008. I had been chartering sailboats with a childhood friend, Mary Davenport Cook, who was ‘living her bucket list’ after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Mary taught me to enjoy the moments and pursue a dream while I was able.

I enjoyed traveling and taking in the great outdoors in the comfort of my temporary ‘sailing home’. I welcomed the simplicity of sailing, needing only to take along the essentials, leaving everything superfluous behind. I felt a meditative sense of calm and connectedness while on passage. Time would stop. Life was clarified. Everything seemed to make sense. I wanted more of this experience, and thus my new dream was formed.

At first, I was too fearful to follow my dream

I thought that I would jeopardize the career that I loved and had taken so long to build and that I could not afford to undertake such an adventure. I thought that my friends, colleagues and family would think I was crazy and irresponsible, and that I would fall flat on my face. It was only when the fear of not following my dream became greater than all of my other fears that I decided to ‘lift anchor’.

None of my fears materialized. In fact, quite the opposite occurred.

In 2011, I resigned my position (and was subsequently offered an 8-month leave of absence) to earn my RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certification and cross the Atlantic Ocean as crew in the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers).

I returned to work in 2012 to successfully deliver the biggest project of my career.

In 2013, I started my second ‘sailbatical’ to cross the Pacific. I am currently in Hawaii having sailed here from Isla Mujeres, Mexico via Florida, The Bahamas, Jamaica, Panama, The Galapagos, and French Polynesia (Gambier, Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands) – over 11,000 nautical miles in ten months.

2014 promises more adventure as I head to New Zealand from Hawaii via the Society Islands, Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga. I will return to New York for work in 2015 unless the ‘wind’ takes me in another direction.

There is much more to this story than I can include here, but to summarize, I am amazed how everything came together once I decided to go for it. Even apparent glitches (failed relationships, health issues) along the way turned out to be blessings in disguise and actually supported me on the journey.

Living my dream is not always unicorns and rainbows – sometimes it can be a real nightmare. However, even at its worst, it is much better than sitting around wishing I was living my dream.

If you want to incorporate sailing into your career break, you may want to take one or more of the steps that I did:

Aloha and Bon Voyage

Lisa Dorenfest has an unquenchable passion for sailing and a dream to circumnavigate the globe on a sailboat. She has taken a series of breaks from her career as a Project Manager to realize her dream one ocean at a time. Having now sailed over 20,000 + nautical miles in 14 countries, Lisa has learned to enjoy life’s moments and believe in the possibilities. You can read more about Lisa’s sailing adventures on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Career Break Travel Myths
Monday, March 10th, 2014

Career Break Myths

Excuses, excuses, we’ve heard them all. And they are all there to rationalize your fear and result in keeping you cemented to the life you think you have to live.

Myth #1: “It’s too expensive, you must be rich”

You don’t have to have a trust fund; it is possible to take a break if you don’t have much money saved. And it’s certainly possible to save money in order to take a career break no matter what your circumstances. In fact, it’s never too early to start.

Some people plan and save for several years and you can also get travel costs from those who have come before you. A key place to start is to determine roughly how much you will need to travel around the world. You may realize that you may have to change some of your spending habits, but if you really want the career break bad enough, you will find a way to start saving. It’s about priorities.

If you are ready to hit the road sooner than later but don’t quite have the budget you’d like, you may want to consider working and living abroad as part of the adventure. Just ask Lisa Lubin who worked her way around the world while she was taking a break from her television producer job. Though keep in mind it is a break – so don’t let the work aspect consume all your time!

Myth #2: “A gap on my resume will ruin my career”

A career break doesn’t equal career suicide. In fact, it will even help your career. You will build skills you can put on your resume such as confidence, patience and smart risk-taking. And a break will allow you the time to reflect on where your career is to date, how it may have gotten off track, and how to refocus on what it is you really want to do. Just read what Michael Bontempi had to say about his three month break and how it improved his career.

Brian Peters advises that “It’s also important not to burn any bridges as you leave one job or career for another. The same people you work with now will be your best points of contact if you decide to come home and look for work. If they like you and trust you, they will keep their eyes and ears open.” That is exactly what helped Bill Peterson find a job in two short months in the Semiconductor industry that he left for his 14 month career break. During those months, he kept up on industry news and worked to keep his network alive.

Myth #3: “It’s not safe to travel abroad”

The reality is that we live in a society that focuses so heavily on the negative (especially in the news), so safety is a valid concern when traveling abroad for any length of time. But most places are only as dangerous as the situations you place yourself in. “Like many places in the States, as long as you keep your wits about you and make smart, common sense decisions (keep an eye on your stuff, don’t wander off down a dark alley alone or go to notoriously bad neighborhoods at night), you’re likely going to be just as safe abroad as you are at home,” says Jennifer Baggett.

For many women, safety may be their biggest concern. But just look at all of the women traveling, like Barbara Weibel of Hole in the Donut, Janice Waugh of Solo Traveler, Marie Elena Martinez of Marie’s World, The Lost Girls, and Sherry Ott of OttsWorld. Of course it’s not a bad idea to reference the US Department of State International Travel Information, but note that if you look at the US Travel Warnings, be sure to compare them to warnings from the UK, and Australia for other world perspectives.

Myth #4: “I can’t travel because I have a family”

We can tell you without wavering that it is possible to travel with family. It’s just that you may not personally know anyone who has taken a career break with their family and traveled the world. Let us introduce you to Rainer Jenss who took his family around the world. Or the Cooney’s who pulled their 3 sons out of high school for homeschool and an education of world travel. Or Family on Bikes who took the ultimate biking trip on the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Argentina with their 2 boys.

Remember, for every myth out there, there is someone who has dispelled them. You may not know them personally, but know you are in amazing company.

How My Career Break Became My Career
Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

In 2009 my husband and I had a very typical American life. We both had 9-5 cubicle jobs, owned a house, a car, and a whole bunch of other stuff. We were on track: bigger house, bigger car, promotions, and, eventually, retirement.

But I was miserable. 

I’m not knocking that life path, but the truth is I tried it, and it wasn’t for me. A bigger house wasn’t going to make me happy and neither was a promotion. I’d always dreamed of writing for a living, and I wanted desperately to travel the world, but somewhere along the line I’d set aside my dreams to chase a very traditional model of success. 

At first, I felt that I was crazy for even thinking about giving everything up that I’d worked so hard for in order to chase a dream. Then I felt guilty and selfish for being unhappy with the life I had when so many others seemed so desperately to want it.

Who was I to want more? Why couldn’t I be happy with what I had? 

And then there was my husband, who I knew wasn’t exactly jumping for joy in his paper-pushing cubicle job, but who also wasn’t longing for a life of creativity and adventure in the same way that I was. How could I ask him to give up the life we’d built? What would he possibly think of my deeply held desires for a different sort of life? 

It’s hard to express this all in a few hundred words when I could fill a book (and have!) with the emotions we worked through and the actions we took to turn this dream into a reality. When I first breached the chuck-it-all-and-travel idea to my husband, he was surprised and skeptical, as you might imagine. But over time he came to believe in the passion and purpose I felt about following my dream. When it came down to it, he saw that the risk might reap great rewards, and even if it didn’t, we could always go back to our old careers. We knew we were resourceful and would not spend the remainder of our lives jobless and homeless (though it was a fear, believe me). 

Over time, my husband warmed to the idea. And then the unexpected happened: the enthusiasm he saw in me as I chased my own dream got him thinking about what he wanted out of his own life. There was a time when he wanted to work outdoors and teach people about the natural world. He’d even briefly gone to school to be a park ranger. Why had he given up on it? 

So we leapt. We were terrified but exhilarated all at once. 

For the next 20 months we visited 20 countries on 5 continents. We swam with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, climbed mountains in the Himalayas, drove a rickshaw through India, walked across Spain and bicycled through Vietnam. We met incredible people and learned more than we could ever have imagined.

And somewhere along the way we realized that our lives had been transformed, irreversibly, forever. 

My writing career is growing stronger every day, and last September I published my first book, called Life On Fire: A Step-By-Step Guide To Living Your Dreams. I wrote the book for everyone standing on the cusp of a gigantic dream. I know you are terrified and questioning things. But you are not alone. My book gives you the skills and inspiration to navigate the road to your dreams. Believe me, the journey is worth it.

My husband and I would still be traveling today if it weren’t for an unexpected opportunity that came our way. We’ve been hired, as a team, by Backpacker Magazine to travel around the U.S. giving presentations about backpacking skills, gear, and travel destinations. It’s the sort of job we never would have been qualified for had we not followed my dream, and the new job fits perfectly with Brian’s re-discovered dream. 

We never could have guessed the twists and turns of life that have lead us to where we are today. And we have no idea what will happen next. The possibility and potential of our future excites me every day. Where I could once sit down at my cubicle and picture the next 30 years of my working life, I now sit down at my computer each morning and know that there are a lifetime of adventures and stories out there with my name on it. I can’t wait to live them. 

Kim is a writer whose took a career break in 2012 and never looked back. Her book, Life On Fire: A Step-By-Step Guide To Living Your Dreams is available on Amazon here.  You can read all about her journey on her blog So Many Places.

 

 

 

 

Faith Vs. Fear: Boomers Speak Out at Meet-up
Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Monday night, about 40 travel lovers gathered at Ginger Hop in Minneapolis to swap stories and secrets. A panel of four experienced career breakers took on the topic of “Faith Vs. Fear: The Career Break Face-off.” And Yours Truly served as Mr. M.C. Moderator. A good time was had by all!

After a social-lubrication hour, we had all attendees introduce themselves, tell about their career-break experience (if any), and mention the primary fear standing in the way of their fantasy BreakAway. The fears were mostly familiar, yet the Boomer’s concerns were sometimes surprising. Here are a few, plus my comments…

“I’m afraid that prospective employers will think I’m coming out of retirement.”

This came up more than once, and honestly had never crossed my mind before. But it seems totally legit, right? Picture someone half your age named Ms. H.R. Authority perusing your resume and sniffing, “You turned 62, took a year off to live in Peru, and now you want to go back to work? Really!?!”

“I’m worried about stopping contributions into my retirement savings—and spending money I may need later.”

That’s a smart worry. And we Americans are big spenders (who often forget to save in our early decades). But as we age, most people gradually come to their savings senses. My 2-cent retort remains: Wouldn’t you love to take one year of your retirement now—even if it means working one year longer later?

“I’m concerned that I might have health problems.”

Again, so real. Fortunately, one panelist had recently returned from an ambitious one-year travel-athon—despite having diabetes and needing to carry refrigerated insulin and give himself shots four times a day. Full disclosure: He was in his 20s. Yet his story inspires regardless of your age. And other folks reflected stories of getting good—and often cheap!—care in almost every country.

“What if my family needs me or my parents get sick or die?”

That’s a tough one. And as Boomers are learning en masse, some serious things happen as you age: Responsibility. Caring. Illness. Death. But why not talk to your parents and kinfolk and ask their opinion? They might just insist you go. They may even visit! And remember: If something bad happens, you can go home again. 

“I’m just not sure I have the energy.”

Travel can be exhausting, no doubt. Yet there are as many ways to travel as there are people to get up and go—and the words “slow travel” came up often last night (including by young whippersnappers). A sleepy fishing village may be just the ticket; climb every mountain in your next life. On the other hand, maybe a Big Break would recharge those tired batteries and get you off your Boomer butt!

After all, is there anything more energizing than stepping out of your stale routine, landing in a cool new scene, and jump-starting the rest of your life?

Kirk Horsted blogs at MakeYourBreakAway.com and offers speeches and seminars, too. Since 1990, he’s taken five sabbaticals ranging from 35 to 355 days, from Grandma’s farm (SD) to Waiheke (NZ). He’s embarked alone, with partner, and with his perfect children. When he must, he works as a writer, creative consultant, and college teacher.

Big Boom RoadShow
Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Can Boomers Get a Break?

While beer-storming (that’s beer-sipping + brainstorming) over the holidays with dear friend and MPG rock star Sherry Ott, we came up with my 2014 career-break movement mission. For the next year, every month, I will write a column about Baby Boomers. So let’s get off our Boomer big butts and get this show on the road!

Not the greatest generation?

We Boomers are a mystifying bunch. I say “We” because I was born in 1960—toward the end of the Baby Boom (1946 – 1964) and have loved riding the surge that followed. We sprang to life during an era of relative convention and conservatism. Then we boisterously rejected all that and, as lore has it, sold our souls to sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

We still like those things (and, increasingly, Viagra, hearing aids, and legalization). But as history writes our story, there’s often a lingering haze of disappointment about what we accomplished with our passion and promise. After all, we preached peace but have enabled costly wars that drag on for decades. We marched for equality yet bitter human-rights fights rage on. We imagined a world less ruled by The Man, Big Brother, and Uncle Sam—yet fear for our freedoms, privacy, and jobs.

Now we’re 50 – 68 years old. If we still fantasize running away to Woodstock or San Francisco, we probably lack the means and zeal—or are afraid someone might steal our job. Hell, two-thirds of us (in North America) don’t even use all of our modest vacation allocation. Is that a buzzkill or what!?! A haze of disappointment, indeed.

Let’s change the world—one (vacation) day at a time

But it’s not too late, right? If you’re reading this—Boomer or not—you’re not dead yet. And the best time to take an extended journey is…anytime! Like, when the stars finally align! When you’ve saved some money! Gotten divorced or widowed! Watched your nest (or nest egg) go empty! Or gotten fired or learned you have one year to live.

In other words, perhaps there’s no perfect time for anything. Yet somehow we find time to fall in love, get an education, buy and sell homes, raise families, manage careers, and move around. If you hang out on this site, you’re likely thinking about moving around.

So we’ll explore what it means to prioritize long-term travel—and the whys and hows and more. We’ll revive forgotten promises and unfulfilled fantasies. We’ll celebrate trips we’ve taken, probe vital topics, and ask the big questions like…

  • If we’re afraid to go, how do we face down fear and build up faith?
  • What’s money got to do with it?
  • What about options like staycations, couch-surfing, and home exchanges?
  • How will we redefine retirement?
  • Can we embark on ambitious adventures while managing a health condition?
  • Why do we work so hard and long—and how can we escape that blessed curse?
  • How do we keep hope alive through mini-breaks, vacations, and leisure?
  • Have we become immobilized by our families, homes, gadgets, and stuff?
  • What are pros and cons of going solo, with a partner, or the whole damn family?
  • Since we might live beyond 100, how do we make a work/life plan for that?
  • As our travels may suggest, why are less fortunate cultures often happier than U.S.?
  • Shall we start scheming for a Boomers on BreakAway Summit?

Up, up, and away…

We’ll check out some stats and facts, but get lost in far-out places like Bequia. We’ll share tips and tales from been there and doing that. And above all, we’ll laugh at ourselves and yet hope to inspire each other to go up, up, and away—whether to the adventure of a lifetime, or simply using all our vacation days.

PS What do YOU want Big Boom RoadShow to explore? Please add your comment below, or send me a private email through my website. Thanks!

Kirk Horsted blogs at MakeYourBreakAway.com and offers speeches and seminars too. Since 1990, he’s taken five sabbaticals ranging from 35 to 355 days, from Grandma’s farm (SD) to Waiheke (NZ). He’s embarked alone, with partner, and with his perfect children. When he must, he works as a writer, creative consultant, and college teacher.

5 Steps to Getting Over the Hurdle and Making BIG Changes in Your Life
Friday, January 17th, 2014

“You deserve to be happy,” I kept (and keep) telling myself.

“You are worth it!”

This was my mantra during the time I was making a significant change in my life and decided to take a big break. In late 2012 I quit my job after 6 years of hard work and long hours dedicated to product marketing and began a 10 month journey of self-discovery through Southeast Asia, India and parts of Europe. The process from acknowledging I needed a change to actually getting over the hurdle and hopping on a plane to Bangkok took time, understanding and a bunch of support. The good news is if I can do it, so can you.

Here are five steps I experienced in creating change and manifesting a life that felt more…like me.

Acknowledge a change is needed

 

Whether it is making the decision to quit your job, postpone grad school, or take a break from a certain kind of life you’ve been leading, knowing you need a change is the first step in making what you truly want to actually happen. However, making the decision to stop what you’re doing right where you are and say, “No, I don’t want this,” and move in a new direction isn’t easy. You might have an inkling, a feeling deep in your stomach that’s telling you, “This isn’t quite right”. There might not only be a yearning for more, but a knowing that there is more to this life than what you are currently experiencing. By honoring and listening to that inner voice, our deepest desires, we naturally begin the process of cultivating change.

Want to learn the practicalities of taking a Career Break Trip? Sign up for our free e-course, Plan Your Career Break in 30 Days

Knowing you are worth it

It takes more than listening to your gut to make big decisions like taking a career break. I knew I needed to make a change, but it took a good 3 years to feel “worthy” enough to act on it. In my case, I was living a life of fear. I was afraid to disappoint those around me: my family, employer, colleagues and friends. I made others’ happiness more important than my own. This only made me feel more stuck, more unsatisfied, less productive in my work, and just unpleasant to be around. I was sick of hearing myself complain. Gradually, through therapy, self-help books, TedTalks, yoga and an introduction to meditation, my self-worth grew and grew. I started practicing putting myself first, setting boundaries, saying “no.” Little by little I could feel my courage and inner strength brewing. I was getting ready to act on making an even bigger change in my life.

Letting go of attachments

As humans we generally cling to comfort. If given the option of choosing between something you know and something unknown, we tend to stick with “the usual.” We carry a soft spot for what we know, this life we’ve worked so hard to build. Even though I knew I needed a change and was beginning to feel worthy enough to experience this happiness, I was still greatly attached to my life in the Bay Area, California. But if I truly wanted an alternative, I needed to make room for it. I began to analyze my relationship and identity with my work, my friends and community. Would the company survive without me? Could I survive this journey without my friends? Would I risk losing a friend to experience something new? How could I create community in the places I hoped to visit? Making a change and taking a break definitely comes with a bit of letting go, which is probably one of the hardest steps along the way. And it’s the letting go process that requires support.

Create a support network

So began the search to find people and communities that would support me, because God knows I was not going to pull the plug all on my own. I tried focusing less on my mother’s concerns and more on who could help me make my desire a reality. Friends connected me to other friends who knew people who traveled for long periods of time. I made tea-dates with yoga teachers who had practiced in India, and Skyped with current travelers wandering abroad.

In my outreach I discovered my friend from college, Anne and her new husband Mike were getting ready to leave for a year-long honeymoon around the world. On a trip to New York, I popped over to Hoboken and had an uplifting pow-wow with my around the world bound friends at Honeytrek. Almost in unison, Mike and Anne said, “Have you heard of Meet Plan Go?”

They had recently attended a meet-up and said they met tons of like-minded people eager to take career breaks and received loads of inspiration and support on how to make it happen. Lucky for me the national meet-up was scheduled in just a few weeks. In October, 2012 I attended the San Francisco gathering. Filled with helpful information and more importantly, encouraging pats on the back, I quit my job by the end of the month.

If you’re in the New York City or San Francisco areas , Meet, Plan, Go! is hosting meetups in both (Ashley, the author of this article, will be at the San Francisco meetup). Both are free, but you do need tickets. Visit the sites below to get your free ticket and for more info:

Embracing the unknown

Going against the grain is uncomfortable and is not without risking a splinter or two. While the world around you is cruising in one direction, it can feel quite daunting to wave goodbye and take the next exit. If you get off the known highway of life and take an alternate route, well, there’s no telling what sort of potholes and unpaved streets lie ahead. The fact is, you will never know. You can be as prepared as you can be with your maps and all-weather gear, but you really don’t know where this amazing journey of life is going to take you. Getting comfortable with this “not knowing” is the key to experiencing great happiness. In my experience, when you have trust in the unknown, acting from the heart and not out of obligation, there is only room for a positive outcome.

If any of this is resonating, I encourage you to put your blinker on and take the road less traveled. Listen to your inner voice and trust you know what you truly want and can make your deepest desires a reality. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and surround yourself with people who lift you up. There is no question making a big decision is difficult, but I can guarantee you, it will be one of the most liberating experiences you will feel in your life.

I’ll leave you with the words of Mark Twain (which also inspired me to shave my head in Dharamsala, India)
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Ashley Garver made the switch from an under stimulated, disconnected work-a-holic into a joyously free-spirited world-class wanderer. With a full backpack and a sublet apartment, she spent ten introspective months traveling alone throughout Southeast Asia, India, and Europe. She studied yoga, eastern healing modalities, meditation, and — most importantly — herself. Ashley detoxed her body, shaved her head, biked through the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, and volunteered at a yoga retreat in Portugal for a month. During her journey of self-discovery, Ashley realized that, with love and honesty, she is capable of just about anything. You can read more about Ashley on her website I See Ashley and follow her on Twitter.

Getting Over Your Fears
Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Long-term travel isn’t usually a decision that is made overnight. There is often a deep, long-lasting desire within a person to tread on dirt roads, watch sunsets from other horizons, see new colors woven together by diverse histories and traditions, share unique moments, appreciate differences, learn to be self-sufficient and free, enjoy simplicity, and to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul. For some, the dream to leave a life behind to follow an uncertain road seems impossible or too scary to attempt. But when the desire to go surpasses the desire to stay, one should prepare for the waves of emotions that follow. As a single mom with two young children, there were almost too many emotions to sort through.

The decision that it was possible

Marriage and kids kept me in one place, and my travel dreams were reduced to pictures on a Pinterest board. In 2011, I was divorced and broke. I had a small, empty apartment in Austin, two children (then ages 2 and 4), no job, no car, and a blank canvas with which to create a brand new life. I began an online marketing business that allowed me the flexibility to be at home with my children and to travel when we wanted to.

After a year of running my business, making sure it was successful and profitable, I envisioned what my life would look like in 6 months. I saw turquoise blue waters, warm weather, and knitted hammocks. So on Christmas morning of 2012, new luggage, passports, swimsuits, and beach toys were wrapped beneath our tree. My gift to my children and myself was a long trip to Cozumel, Mexico, which seemed like the perfect introduction to traveling outside of the US. I sold, gave away, and packed our belongings, and anticipated our departure date in May. I was overwhelmed with excitement until one late night 6 weeks before we were scheduled to leave, I wanted to cancel the whole trip.

Fears set in during the planning stages

I had been spending my evenings reading travel articles, travel blogs, travel tips, cultural differences in Cozumel, Mexican laws, and other books. I mapped out a detailed plan that exhausted me to look at, but I felt secure that everything in Austin would be taken care of when I left. I hired staff to take care of tasks that I couldn’t be present for, and on paper, my plans for my exciting journey seemed thorough. But exciting journeys aren’t about a plan on paper.

About 6 weeks before leaving, I began to feel displaced. My thoughts and energy had been focused on Cozumel, and it pained me to feel uprooted from my comfortable life in Austin. I felt adrift- some place between Austin and Cozumel. Knowing I wouldn’t be with my friends in a month, I stopped making plans with them, and I was sure I would be forgotten. I feared that there would be nothing to come back to, that friends would move on, and that I would no longer have a place.

I questioned whether this was best for the kids- to uproot them when we had made a comfortable spot for ourselves in Austin. I was content there to a degree, so maybe I could be okay. Maybe life abroad isn’t really what I had imagined, and maybe I was setting myself up for disappointment. I was sure of my life in Austin. I knew what was coming, and I knew what to expect. But in another country, I didn’t know what to expect. Was the excitement of the unknown worth the risk of having no permanent home?

I questioned everything. I began to panic and started holding on to any reason to stay in Austin. Talking about my trip made me cry. I couldn’t sleep, and I cried more in that last month than I did in the past year. I wrote out how much it would cost to cancel my trip, get a new place (since I had given notice at my apartment), put the kids in a new pre-school, and continue living just like I always had. I was so disappointed in myself- I claimed to be a free spirit, but I was terrified of venturing out with only a couple of pieces of luggage, my two children, and my little dog.

So did we go?

I thought I needed comfort and roots, but what I really needed was resolution and wings. I began having long chats with a seasoned world traveler friend of mine. He assured me that these feelings were normal, but that I needed to find a way to put them in their place. I could cancel the trip and go on living the way I was, or I could take this chance, and get a glimpse of something that could be incredible. If I didn’t like it, I could always return to Austin, but my friend assured me that if I would just get on the plane, I wouldn’t regret it. I was allowing fear to ruin the possibility of a deeply-rooted dream, of a free vagabond lifestyle that I had designed in my head for years. But I wanted this adventure enough that I had rid myself of all material things, structured a business around a travel lifestyle, and prepared my children to be little world explorers.

I had been blindsided by the waves of emotions I felt from day to day and even hour to hour (sometimes minute to minute). Finally, a couple of weeks before leaving, I found ways to manage my fear and move forward. If I failed, I could still have a good life in Austin, but if there was even a glimmer of hope that I could pull this off, I was going to find out.

I began envisioning myself in my new life, free in my spirit, but grounded in who I was. My stability would be within myself. My children would find their safety in my own stability. My comfort would be in knowing that the world was an exciting place, and that my children and I had the privilege of living in it- all of it if we wanted! My fears would not be passed on to them, and they would feel free and open to wander and discover, while I watched them in amazement. I realized that I could have roots, but also be fluid and mobile.

I ran, I meditated, I drank hot tea, I listened to soothing music, I took bubble baths, and I began to surround myself with only positive, calming energy and people. I reflected on all the amazing memories I had in Austin, but looked forward to new ones. I read books written by other wanderers and vagabonds who discovered things they were looking for and found even more that they weren’t. I studied maps, and beautiful cultures, and revived my excitement for seeing them myself. I recognized my fears, and then released them, as I began to expect the best from our trip. I spent time with people who had been traveling, I saw their appetite for life and exploration, and I regained my own enthusiasm for my journey. There were moments of fear, but I had resolved that we were going to do this. On May 23, 2012, the kids and I boarded a plane together, each of us with a stuffed animal in our hands.

What about now?

Questioning this move was a really helpful part of the process, now that I reflect on it. It helped me realize how strong my desire was to travel to new places. Had there been no struggle in my decision, in the end, I may not have been so resolved and focused to release myself from my own boundaries. My children and I have been in Cozumel for 3 months now, and we have all adjusted well. We have extended our trip through the school year, and we plan to live in Costa Rica next.

Sometimes, I wonder what I’m doing here, or I fall into habitual fears and mindsets. I worry that we may lose everything, that my business will fail, and that I won’t have the ability to pay for our home here.

But I guess even in a worst case scenario, I could just tie a couple of hammocks between two palm trees on a beach, and really, that doesn’t sound too bad at all.

Autumn la Bohème is a single mother of 2 who left her home in Austin Texas to disprove the word “impossible”. Always labeled a gypsy soul, she had a dream to live absolutely free, to travel with no geographical ties, to roam, to explore, and to make the world more real to her than the pictures she saw in books and magazines. She is a writer and online marketing manager for Bodhi Leaf Media, a business that she started to fund her travels. She also documents life and travel on her blog It’s All About a Journey. She loves daydreaming, open skies, and listening to tales of other nomads and vagabonds on their journeys. Her children’s adventurous spirits have added to the excitement of their journey, and now they have their own list of areas to visit as they slowly explore Central and South America.

Photo credits: Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha, all other photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

Financial Planning for Your Career Break
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

It IS possible to save the $’s to take a career break. Where do you start?  We interviewed a few financial experts about how to go about saving for your break.  Sit back and be inspired!

What’s Your Number? featuring Career Break Vets Warren and Betsy Talbot:

 

We know that MOST Financial Advisors would tell you that you are crazy for wanting to take break from work to travel.  After all, it will cut into your retirement savings; however financial expert, Debbie Whitlock, doesn’t think you are crazy.  In fact – she’ll give you advice on how to go about financially planning for such a big trip.  She understands the desire to take a break and won’t talk you out of it!

Sherry Ott talks with Financial Advisor Debbie Whitlock about how to start saving, tracking your spending, and creating a budget for both your career break and re-entry without dipping into your retirement funds. (Runtime – 14:04)

Transcript Part 1
1:10 – How far out do you have to start financial planning for a career break? Depends on:
- Debt carried
- Current cash reserve
- How much stuff you have
- How long is the break
- Must do your research first!
- Overall range is 9 to 24 months to start saving
4:25 – What are the steps to creating a career break financial plan?
- Budget – you have to know inflow and outflow of your money presently
5:55 – Find the missing money, it can become the key to the kingdom!
6:40 – Track every penny for 30 days
7:55 – Start making changes in spending – alternative ways to socialize
9:00 – Look at your current cash position and what it is allocated for
10:15 – Figure out where you are going to travel and create your daily travel budget
10:55 – Don’t over look the cost of re-entry
12:00 – Don’t go backwards! Once you identify where you can cut back – don’t absorb it back into your life – keep it separate!
13:10 – The planner vs. the non-planner
- There are different types of people who go into career break travel; however both types still need to do a little front-end work when it comes to budget.

FINANCIAL PLANNING – PART 2
Sherry & Debbie discuss some financial myths, how to supplement your income on the road, budgets for different circumstances and working with your financial advisor. (Runtime – 13:39)

Transcript Part 2
00:10 – Do you have to sell everything you own or dip into retirement money? It is an extreme to sell everything you own, and not always necessary.
1:15 – Take a balanced approach which may mean a bit of delayed gratification and more thoughtful planning.
2:40 – You can consider working during the career break to support your travel budget
3:50 – What if you have kids or a spouse/partner – do you need to financially plan differently?
5:00 – Need to consider what the potential additional costs with kids
6:45 – How do you engage your current financial advisor in this career break discussion?
8:10 – What do you do if your advisor doesn’t think it’s a good idea?
9:15 – Meet with your advisor regularly and consider how you will communicate when you are on the road.
10:50 – How do you know that you have the right financial advisor to be your partner in this venture?
12:30 – We are a different generation and therefore we look at things differently – including our finances.

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