Making the Decision to Start the Live Without Working Experiment – April 2009

I made the decision to give up work and attempt to travel/live full time without working in a j.o.b. in April 2009. However, there were many events that lead up to this decision.

A Bit of Background

I think I can pinpoint the turning point in my life that lead me towards this full time vacation experiment to sometime between 2005 – 2006. I had been living / working / traveling in London since April 2000; and had the time of my life! However, as the story goes, I fell in love when in London; and my boyfriend’s (now husband) visa for London ran out so we had to make a plan if we were to stay together. We did all we could to stay in London but when that didn’t work out we decided to move to Australia and try living there for a while.

After living such a fun life in London that didn’t really feel like real life due to all the traveling and partying and generally  just living in another country; we had a really tough time settling back down into ‘real life’. What we very quickly learned was: real life sucks! But really, we figured if this was what ‘real life’ was like, then we wanted out. Surely this couldn’t be it for the rest of our lives? Working hard, long hours; coming home and eating, watching tv and going to bed. No way, there must be more to life than this?!

stop working start living break out of the system

It was easy to ‘look the part’, but harder to actually fit into ‘real life’.

Everyone we spoke to seemed to be happy in their life, but we just didn’t fit. Something had to give. We tried changing jobs, changing houses, changing cities and then we realised that although the change helped, it was only temporary until we fell back into that dreaded  slump of ‘real life’.

Then, New Years 2007/8, we spent with some friends that also lived the London life; when one of my friends shared that the Canadian working holiday visa rules have changed so that Australians could apply for the visa up until their 31st birthday. What that meant was that I was now eligible for this visa; but only for another 5 months.

This small piece of information sparked a fire inside of me that I could not ignore and I decided that I should apply for that visa or I may just regret it. So I did, and I received it one week later. How exciting!

There was just one problem though: my boyfriend  was South African , and therefore did not qualify for the working holiday visa. We looked into our options and the only thing we can come up with was that he go to Canada on a tourist visa and try and get work under the table. Otherwise, I would support us both.

We still had not made a direct decision whether or not we would go to Canada, and if we did, when we would go.

And then, about 4-5 months later, I came across an advert for volunteer recruiter jobs based in US and Canada. I immediately applied for both my boyfriend (BF) and I because I saw this as an opportunity where we could work together across the US; before going up to Canada. In other words: this was an opportunity to escape ‘real life’.

Interestingly enough, my boyfriend got the job in the US, and I did not make it through. He decided he needed to take the opportunity, so I decided that rather than staying trapped in my life in Australia, I would go to Canada. I could then fly to see him when I could and when he finished his contract he could come to Canada and we could travel.

So we quit our jobs, sold everything we owned, and in August 2008 went our separate ways: BF to LA, and me to Vancouver.

Separation

The next eight months were spent  mostly apart, living separate lives and chatting on Skype whenever we could. I did manage to go and visit BF in San Francisco, Seattle and Bellingham; which was awesome. We also met up in South Africa in December for one month in December 2008, where we got married and spent time with family and friends.

stop working start living break out of the system

BF & I catching up in Bellingham, Washington; during our 8 months apart.

BF finished his work contract in April 2009 and came to Vancouver to commence the next part of our journey.

When he arrived, friends of ours also arrived to visit before they went WWOOFing on Vancouver Island and traveling around Canada.

We were amazed to hear about WWOOFing, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Basically, you volunteer a few hours per day helping out on these farms and in return the farm gives you accommodation and meals. In other words: this was an opportunity to give something back, learn some organic farming skills and also travel without requiring money. Win-win! This sparked an idea for us and we decided that we would do this at some stage, when we were ready to travel Canada and the rest of the world.

J.O.B. Misfit

So I had been working in Vancouver for several months and although I enjoyed the people I worked with, I didn’t enjoy the work I was doing. In fact, I was quite miserable in my work. I was faced with a moral dilemma: how was the work I was doing making a positive impact on the world? I was working in the corporate office of an alcoholic beverage company, and although it had its benefits (free alcohol!), I just couldn’t fight the conflict within.

I had been working in human resources for several years and even when I was in Australia I started to realise that I just could not find a job in the corporate world that I felt satisfied in.

When in Canada, I received further challenges finding a good fit, and that’s when I started looking around for some inspiration to help me out. That’s when I came across the following books that changed my life:

The Joy of Not Working – Ernie J. Zelinski

Retire Young, Retire Free – Ernie J. Zelinski

Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss

Like a young boy secretly reading porn magazines; I started reading these books whenever I could; realising that if my boss or co-workers caught me reading these books, I may be faced with some heavy questions about my future with the company.  So I read these books on the way to and from work, sneak out of the office at lunch time to read them, and in the evenings.

These books were so exciting to me and opened a whole new world that I did not know about. That familiar fire started burning within once more and I every spare moment was spent reading them or planning my next opportunity to read them.  I felt so alive during this time!

You’re Fired!

Then, when I least expected it, my boss called me into this office for a meeting, starting with the words that made it immediately obvious what this was all about:

“I could not sleep last night because of this meeting I had to have with you this morning…”

Basically, it had become very obvious that I was not happy in my job and if I did not tender my resignation, I would be fired.

Now even though I had already been looking for my escape out of the corporate role and was not happy in my job; I did take this new development very hard. After all, I was being rejected.

However, I knew that this was for the best and my boss forced me to do what I was too afraid to do.

Have you noticed how that happens in life? When you make a decision about something but don’t take the action to make it happen, the universe creates a situation where you are forced to go down the track that you need to be on.

So that was it: I decided that here was our opportunity to start traveling. BF and I planned our next steps and the Living Without Work Experiment was born.

 

FACEBOOK MESSAGE TO MUM

19 April, 2009

7:59pm

Hey Ma,

How was your week?

Mine has been very interesting. I made the decision to resign at work which has changed our plans dramatically. I found out I would be losing my assistant at the end of the week which would mean me taking on twice the amount of work and I’m just not prepared to put myself through that stress.

So Jay and I have decided that this is a prime opportunity to don our backpacks and discover the rest of the country. We found this organisation called WWOOF (www.wwoof.org) who offer opportunities to travel the world while staying on their farms and helping them out with chores. In return they offer food and accommodation and sometimes there are paid positions.

I’m really excited about getting back to ‘farm life’, and getting out of the corporate world which is so stifling and so much political nonsense and control over what I can and cannot do. We can also do house sitting as well as this “wwoofing” which will mean a very cheap (almost free) way to travel around the world.

We can still apply for the visa for BF, which we’ll be putting in before we leave, and expect to be on the trails in about a month or two (it all depends what happens with work). I told work I can be flexible until they find someone.

So, we’re busy reducing our belongings once again, and planning our first step of the journey. We’re very excited! And at least this way it is something that BF can do legally (because he can’t work in a job until the visa comes through).

Lots of love you and the family! Xoxo

PS – I have died my hair brown. It is a little darker than my natural colour, but means I dont’ have to worry about going to the hairdresser for as long as we’re backpacking (which could be a long long time). It’s a brown bob at the moment and looks really strange. But now I will just let it grow and not worry about it. xoxo

 

 

EMAIL TO A FRIEND

26 April 2009

Hey gorgeous girl!  how goes it?

Things have changed for us here.  Things have changed at work and even though I was willing to stick it out until the end of the year, when I found out I’d be losing my assistant I kind of decided on the spot that that was it, I will not stay around and I put in my resignation  It kind of took me (and BF!) by surprise when I made that decision but when we started re-planning what we’re going to do we started getting really excited!  We are about to go “vagabonding”!  have you heard of that?  You have probably heard of WWOOF?  World wide opportunities on Organic Farms?  www.wwoof.org.  We found out about it and decided we’re going to travel across Canada doing that – basically you help out on the farm for a few hours per day and in exchange they give you accommodation and food.  You can do it at any one place from 2 weeks to 2 years and there are loads around Canada.  What a cheap way to travel!  We would then just need to rustle up money to travel between places and we’ll be sweet!

So, the planning is very exciting, we’re getting rid of everything that we have and replacing it with backpacking gear and clothes.  I’ve died my hair brown so I don’t have to worry about the hairdresser for a long long time (pic on Facebook).  We estimate that we’ll be off and running by mid-late June.

After Canada we then want to do something similar through Asia.  We are excited about the adventure and to see how we deal with obstacles along the way, without money.  We have been reading a lot of books and blogs from people who have done it and have realised just how possible it is to travel without money!  During winters we will probably work in jobs so we can save for the next stint (ie flights to Asia, or however we’re going to travel).  Actually, just spoke with BF and we may even go down US to South America then head over to New Zealand, then go through bits of Australia we haven’t seen yet (which would include Broome!), then head up through Asia, then Europe then Africa.  Hmm…

Anyway, got to run because there is an ANZAC event on in Vancouver which we decided to pop along to.

Love you heaps and heaps!!! xoxoxo

 

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