Before you roll your eyes and say “yet another story about a millennial who was over her well-paying job and quit to backpack around the world and blog all about it and convince everyone else to do the same,” just hear me out.
I was sitting in a team meeting at my job, a job that I loved and appreciated from the start. Together the team was problem-solving a frustrating, ongoing issue that account managers were experiencing with our network. During the time, we joked about the problem and work and maybe a TV show involving a talking dog, I don’t remember exactly. But what I can’t forget about that moment is how completely comfortable I felt. The feeling that I could be with this team, in this company, and in this position for the rest of my life. And that scared me. The feeling that I had so many things I planned to do with my career and my life and that if I remained where I was, I would not be able to achieve them.
But my plans were simple: I wanted to travel and learn to speak Spanish. To be honest I was able to achieve this with my job. I was saving up my earnings to use all of my yearly vacation days to take jam-packed trips overseas and attending Spanish classes once a week in New York City. Over time I realized that my plans weren’t just plans. To me, traveling became more than seeing a new place and learning Spanish was more than the ability to hold a conversation. I realized that my goal was to be able to connect with people and cultures on a deeper level – in their language and on their turf. They were goals much bigger than I imagined.
During one of my last language classes at Fluent City, the question was asked to the students, “what are your plans for the summer?” My agenda was work, Anna’s agenda was work, Kyle’s agenda was work, but Lizette’s agenda was interesting. As a nursing student, she planned to spend a month in Peru learning more Spanish and helping at a clinic through a program called Maximo Nivel. Say what!? My mind started mulling over the idea. I had spent the past 4 months thinking of ways to make my goal a reality and this seemed like a start. I asked Lizette a million questions about the program before even looking it up online. It sounded perfect for me – a month (or week or year) of private Spanish lessons, living with a host family, and, for a business professional like me, working at a local company.
Now before your mind goes back to the millennial, backpack, blog thoughts, let me make one thing clear. By no means am I glorifying quitting your job for the purpose of traveling deeper. That can be achieved with the right mindset and proper planning with any amount of vacation days you have at your disposal. Quitting your job is a risky and unstable path with the sacrifice of the comforts of everyday life. It’s not for everyone. What I am advocating for is personal growth and development at all costs: when you’ve set a goal and the opportunity and resources have aligned for you to take advantage, that you actually take full advantage of it, even if that means quitting your job. This was my opportunity.
Over time I realized that my plans weren’t just plans… They were goals much bigger than I imagined.
Within the next month, I signed up for the program and gave my two weeks notice. It was one of the scariest and toughest career decisions I’ve had to make but I knew this investment in myself would catapult me into a brighter future.
What did that brighter future involve? In Cusco, Peru it was quite a few things:
- Quickly getting acquainted with life in a completely new culture and environment (the altitude was no joke)
- Experiencing work from a different perspective as an intern at the ChocoMuseo
- Improving my Spanish to professional working proficiency
- Appreciating the craft of handmade (vs. machine made) goods working within a chocolate factory
- Conquering my fears while giving museum tours in Spanish (!)
- Contributing my design, photography, and videography skills to the marketing of the ChocoMuseo
- Learning how to move from plan to execution on ideas that I generated
- Broadening my understanding of organic and sustainable farming methods
- Meeting people from around the world and sharing our stories
- Traveling the country to discover new things
- Bringing an open mind every single day
And the journey continues.
Yes, I’m a Millennial. Yes, I quit my job. Yes, I own a backpack. Yes, I have a travel blog. But no, this is not a story of how you should do the same. I encourage you to begin to cultivate your own personal goals and go after them when the opportunity presents itself. Take the risk anyway, even if you don’t know how it will end up. Where am I now? I’m still traveling and working for the next opportunity and I honestly don’t know when or how it will come. Know that life is a compilation of the decisions you make and you can choose to continue living the life you live or you can change course if you so desire. Invest in you at all costs, even if the cost is your day job.
What has personal growth and development cost you? Have you seen the results of investing in you?
© Copyright 2016 Akua Sencherey. All rights reserved.