Why Quitting Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

“Today I walked into the office with a briefcase and I walked out with a backpack, never to return again.” Those were the words I penned tweeted 13 months ago. A few minutes later I was on I-85 on the way up to North Carolina, yelling expletives at the giant South Carolina peach, which actually looks more like another rounded object that has a crack down the middle. I left with no intentions of ever returning. The next day I was spending the night in the Charlotte Airport, the first of what would become several nights in airports over the following months. I in effect had a laptop bag and backpack to my name for the next 9 months. It was the most significant point of my life. I had become a quitter. It was the best decision I ever made.

What was it that I actually quit? Everything. No, really. Already separated and going through a divorce, I effectively hit the restart button on life. I left my apartment, quit my job, sold and gave away most of my things. I quit my life. At some point I had evidently signed up for this 55-year plan of going to school, immediately followed by getting a “real job in the real world”, then following by seriously dating and getting married, with kids to follow shortly thereafter, and then everyone lives happily ever after. Call me the American dream dropout.

I’m sitting in my sister’s kitchen, thinking about what I want to communicate in a week and a half at San Francisco’s Meet, Plan, Go to 100+ travel lovers who are considering taking a similar leap as me.  A lot has happened in one year, from crossing borders to feeding monkeys to volcano hopping to moving 2,500 miles away to becoming a full-time freelance writer. And it’s been the best 12 months of my life. I am doing exactly what I want to be doing right now. And I’m doing so because I quit. I quit the life that wasn’t right for me. I was living the life of someone else — what was expected of me and what I “should” be doing, and not what I wanted to do. Yet despite quitting the race I was in for so long, I wake up every morning with such a strong sense of satisfaction and freedom like I’ve near had. Quitting helped make me a winner at the one thing that matters at the end of the day: life. Call me cheesy, but I’ve become successful at the things that matter to me and without material things to show for it like titles, money, awards, and homes.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, join me on October 18 at 5:30 at the Sports Basement in the Mission. I’ll be joined by other travelers who made similar leaps and will be sharing their stories. We’ll be talking about topics that include: How to budget for traveling long-term, which destinations are cheaper, how to support yourself while traveling, and much more. If you’ve ever thought about traveling more than just a few days at a time or you’re at a season in your life when you’re ready for a career/life transition, then this is the event to help you start planning your dream trip and give you that break you so badly need.

As I mentioned, I’ll be joined by other experienced travelers, each who have something different to offer. After a divorce, Kristin Zibell left her corporate life to travel abroad for two years. Several years ago, Sherry Ott left her job in corporate IT and has been traveling ever since, including one of her greatest adventures, when she recently completed the 10,000-mile Mongol Rally. Our host, Sarah Lavender Smith, and her husband Morgan, took a year off from work to travel with their two kids, teaching their children while on the road. As you can see, our San Francisco Meet, Plan, Go panel comes from all walks of life, but what we share is our love for travel and how it changed our lives. Now, we’re inspiring other travel lovers to go.

When you come to the Meet, Plan, Go San Francisco event on October 18, you won’t just be getting something, but also giving something. Proceeds from ticket sales go to San Franciso-based nonprofit the AFAR Foundation, which sends underserved high school students to study and volunteer in destinations around the world. The Sports Basement will also be providing appetizers and drinks and a 15% discount for attendees. Buy your ticket today and be inspired to travel, while also giving students the opportunity to travel who might not otherwise have the chance.

33 Comments on “Why Quitting Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

  1. This is pure awesome. I love it. Shooting you an e-mail now – sorry I’ve been so slow! It’s been an insane couple of weeks (in a good way). :)

    • Hey Krista. Your support means a ton. While I don’t know your full story (Just through your blog posts), I’m fascinated by it and would love to hear more and thought you might could relate on some of the points. No worries at all and I look forward to hearing from you!

    • Abbie. We need to catch up soon! I’ve gotten more comments about that today without even meaning to! It just came naturally. I did a search and there’s no books by that name!

  2. I love Sports Basement. And San Francisco. And the fact that you are doing what you love! Good luck at the event. Wish I could be there :)

    • Thanks Laura. It’s really so freeing. It’s nice when you’re doing what you want to. Hate that I missed you in San Francisco, but hope we cross paths one of these days!

  3. Hard to believe that you are even old enough to have been married and divorced! :) I absolutely love thinking about the day I quit…it’s such a good feeling! It’s so important to know when to quit instead of slogging through life…it’s too short to do that.
    Thanks for being a part of MPG!

    • It’s hard to believe for me too Sherry. That seems like another life and such a different person. I like this version of me so much more and am finally comfortable in my own skin. You brought up a good point of knowing when to quit. I thing that point often passes a lot of people, but at the same time I hope people don’t feel like there is a point of no return as they get deeper into a career or get married or have kids and so on. Can’t wait for October 18!

  4. Ah, loved this! I’m so happy I met you during this period of your life- you are so happy, so energetic and so… i don’t know… living. It’s fantastic to watch a person you really like truly enjoying the world.

    • You’re so sweet Jade. It feels so freeing to be comfortable in my own skin. I was thinking today about if you asked me a year and a half ago what I wish I was doing, I would of responded: “Anything but what I’m doing now, because this is miserable.” Yet if you asked me that same question now, I would respond: “I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.” I’m very fortunate. It’s also thanks to energetic friends like yourself that make it all the better.

  5. Wow. This story could also be mine. A divorce, struggling to find out who I was and what I wanted in life and then discovering a love for travel only to sell my house and almost everything else I own to try and pursue that dream for longer next year. Good luck with the meet up. It’s great to get more people inspired to follow their dreams.

    • Thanks Julia. It sounds like we have parallel lives. I look forward to following your journey even more now that I see the similarities. I wish you all the best while on the road!

  6. I was a single parent with two kids when I quit a six-figure corporate job to go into travel writing. It’s ten years later and I still have no regrets. Good for you for making the leap!

    Michele

    • That’s great Michele and something people need to hear! That’s quite a leap and to be doing it for that long and still have no regrets says a lot. Bravo to you!

  7. I am reviewing paperwork for a buyout (I requested) at my six-figure corporate job. My plan is to travel the world while studying Spanish and volunteering. I’m so encouraged by this post and the words from people here. I had been thinking about this for a while but had been afraid of taking the leap. I can’t wait for Meet Plan Go this week in NYC. Woohoo!!

    • This is awesome Monica and I’m very excited for you. Please do stay in touch. I hope you have a great event in NYC. I was at the event in NYC last year and it was great. Make sure to at least say hello to Michela Potter. It’s been reassuring and empowering meeting so many like-minded people who share my desires and fears. I hope you find the experiences similar for yourself. Blaze the trail!

  8. Hey these sound like awesome events. I would love to attend, but I’m WAY up north. Are any of these going to be filmed?

    • I know that we’re filming our San Francisco event. Be in touch.

  9. You guys are an inspiration! I’m fortunate to like my job and love my wife, and I still get to travel, just not as much as you.

    I’m glad you have found your happiness! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Also, I wish I could be there… We never have events like that here in Detroit (where it’s needed the most…)

    • Thanks Erik. I’m still figuring out travel for myself. There are a lot of opportunities out there for people that want to do it and I’m happy to be sharing some of my experiences and advice for people that do want to travel outside the box.

  10. I’ve thought about this a lot. I don’t really have a lot of satisfaction in what I am doing but can’t quit my job. I am inspired by what a lot of you are doing and would love to hear your stories. However, I am teaching a training class that day and can’t make it. If it were just me or me and my wife, I would be interested but things are different with young kids.

    Not sure I really want to travel long term but would love to do more of it than I do right now.

    • Thanks Jeremy. A lot of people are in your spot and I think it’s finding the right balance, whether it be a couple years, a couple months, or a couple weeks. I’m still figuring it out in a lot of ways and I think a lot of people are. I’m happy to see that more people are thinking outside the box and doing travel with their spouses and families. Look forward to staying connected and seeing how it evolves for you!

  11. Pingback: How Becoming an American Dream Dropout Brought Value to my Life

  12. Pingback: Is Travel an Act of Irresponsibility?

  13. Pingback: Lessons from a one-way ticket to San Francisco

  14. Pingback: When Life Gives You Lemons, Travel the World

  15. Pingback: On Rubik’s Cubes, Jenga, and Shakespeare

  16. Pingback: Falling Back in Love with the South in Nashville, Tennessee

  17. Pingback: Winners Sometimes Quit and Sometimes Quitters Win | The Traveling Philosopher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>