What made me go from a longing to travel to actually making the decision to do so? I’ll tell you – it wasn’t just one thing. Unfortunately I feel if I would have paid attention to the world around me I wouldn’t have waited so long, but there was always an excuse or saying “that’ll be nice… some day”.
Debt was the biggest thing holding me back. Somewhere along the line I realized getting out of debt was sacrifice and hard work. My other half and I got into this mess, it was up to me to get out of it. As mentioned in a previous post I slashed every luxury and picked up every extra job. Very soon I was feeling nothing but stressed, overwhelmed and was/am generally a strung out workaholic. I told myself it was only temporary. This had to happen so I have a smooth ride later on. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” was my philosophy. One day that changed. I remembered the philosophy I held dear when I was younger. “I could die tomorrow” and “No regrets” – I know I know, it’s as cheesy as a Carpe Diem tattoo, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
I can’t live in this stark black and white world anymore, I need some grey. Travel can fit in as long as I don’t throw my plan and goals of being debt free out the window. It might take me longer but at least I’ll be happy while doing it and won’t regret putting it off for so long.
Once I finally warmed up to the idea and let go of the guilt of investing in myself, I didn’t do anything about it. I’m always the one taking action and making things happen and with this idea it just sat out there like a dead fish in the sun. Then one day I started noticing the signs. Maybe it was my subconscious highlighting the messages, maybe the universe just coincidentally lined things up just so. Whatever the driving force my brain started to take the fuzzy out of focus puzzle pieces and put them together into a clearer picture.
The first major wake-up call came from my boss funnily enough. She sent me an article she had read about breaks from work and the idea of “taking the summer off” now my organization had a habit of shutting down for 2 weeks at the end of August and 2 weeks at the end of December. This was a nice break but as we grew and took on more staff these shutdown periods soon ended blurring into regular work and now even scheduling owed vacation time can be difficult. What really set me off was the link I followed in the article to this video:
By the end of that 17min video I had made up my mind. Not sure what the parameters were but that I was taking a break. I knew a year wouldn’t be feasible. It’s also not what I want. I like the life I built and want to enjoy it with my husband and my pets and my home. But other then short vacations away I’ve never had a change like that and I’ve never truly done anything alone.
After being inspired I started to second guess myself. People don’t really do that do they? I’ve always been taught that that kind of flexibility doesn’t exist in the workplace. Well why not? Whenever I catch myself blindly following what others tell me is impossible, I ask myself why. What are the barriers that are imposed? Are they real legitimate barriers or are they imposed by others and only existing in people’s minds and social constructs. I am both a weirdly traditional, yet untraditional person. If I wanted this to work I just have to go ahead and do it like I did everything else in life.
The clincher was this article which I read shortly after I watched the above video. It reminded me why I wanted to travel and the joy I get from new experiences, seeing new parts of the world and really stretching my existence on this planet while I’m here. All these signs worked together, I decided it and without fear told my boss my plans. One of the reasons I love my job/organization so much is that my coworkers were so happy for me and made sure I knew it wouldn’t effect my place there. So many parts of the world do this naturally whether it’s taken as a gap year, a professional sabbatical or just a break from life, I’m sad in Canada we don’t take our cues more from Europeans, British or Australians for whom this is a more common practice.
My trip will be 2 months long not a year like many think when you hear the term sabbatical but I feel like this is the first step to setting a standard in my life that will help me put myself above my work and help me to flourish in the years ahead.