Go your own way: a year filled with pure passion.
Written by Gabrielle Lyons
It's been three hours since my bus broke down at a security checkpoint on some dusty dirt road (aka Filipino highway). The driver has grease dripping down his forearms as he rips apart the bus’ engine, flinging metal scraps and parts of the motor across the curb. Hens inch closer to peck at the mystery roadkill lying next to my sandals. It's 35 degrees and 100% humidity, I can feel my hair sticking to the back of my neck while Nick has a microphone shoved in my face asking "why do you look so grumpy, babe? This will be great for the podcast!”
I am about to tell you how you can escape your daily commute, travel the world and not earn a cent! Armed with a backpack, laptop, microphone and an emergency credit card, in May of 2018, my partner and I passed in our resignations and uploaded the first episode of our sparkly new travel podcast 'Where Are You Taking Me?'. Obviously I will take the free kick and say if you’re a podcast fan, I would love you to tune in to the show - but what's more important is what stepping away from a career driven, dog-eat-dog world and committing to a passion project has taught me.
PUTTING SELF FIRST
I believe differentiating what you want and need can sometimes get lost in the mix of day-to-day struggles. Do you want a pay rise, or need it? Do you want to travel or need it? After chasing my career for years on end, forever feeling like I was hitting my head against a brick wall, along with being pigeonholed by a major corporation, I recognised adventure was what I needed to better myself plus focus on my own personal growth. I have barely worn make-up for the past 11 months, and I have never felt better! Despite the sweltering heat of South-East Asia, the sweat dripping down my forehead, holes in all my socks and the overwhelming fuzz of my ginger hair, I have never felt stronger, prettier or more proud of who I am. This adventure is what I needed, more so than wanted. This adventure has allowed me to rediscover my abilities and strengths outside of KPI’s and deadlines, not to mention rejuvenating my passion for storytelling and writing.
RISK IS EXCITING
Throughout the last year, I have come to really despise the word ‘luck’. “Oh you are so lucky to be adventuring the world - living your best life!” Sorry no, there was no luck involved. I worked long hours, I saved, I ate three-day old pasta bake and I made a conscious decision to change my life. For most people (self included) change is terrifying and there are so many things that can go wrong - and do! However, without risk, where’s the fun? The major difference between a ‘gap year’ and a year of podcasting is pretty simple - less margaritas and more time spent editing! Every time we would finish a recording, I would doubt myself, my voice, my storytelling approach - everything! With each and every upload I would cringe and think, “Who would even listen to this?” However, one week later when I would log in to check our stats…. 300 listens, 1000 listens. Along the way I have interviewed many people who have expressed the same sentiment: one couple quit their jobs in London to open a surf hostel in Sri Lanka - risky business in a competitive tourist market but they have never been happier (and are regularly fully booked). Another gentleman quit his job to run the only bookshop in his town - he was told he was opening a pharmacy in a graveyard. He’s now had open doors for over three years. Leaving your comfort zone and the towns, cities, friends and workplaces you know best is risky but if you’re passionate and prepared to dedicate hours to what you love whilst still exploring, then what do you have to lose? Taking a risk is exciting – and, from my experience, the outcome is equally as wonderful!
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT SUCCESS
My father said to me once “by the time you’re 25 you should be focussed on a career, get the frivolous fun out of your system before then.” I had this at the forefront of my mind like some wretched hoodoo. I pushed through every crack in the career door, became a pest and fought for success. I thought success or validation from my company was the be all and end all to reach pure happiness. I now know that to be incorrect and my dad totally regrets having ever suggested it! Having pulled away from a company that was not supporting my passions or career goals, stepping out and proving to myself that I can tell the stories I have always wanted to, share the voices of people I find truly inspiring, uploading and being heard all around the world - this project has brought me happiness and a sense of personal success. How exciting is it to live in a world where traditional perceptions can be remoulded - success is now subjective. What you earn or what you drive does not determine your prosperity. So the next step is finding what makes you personally feel prosperous, powerful and eminent. How do you make it happen? …. keep reading ;)
NIKE HAD IT RIGHT
Just Do It! Allow Shia LaBeouf to be your spirit guide! That thing you have been putting off for months telling yourself “maybe when I have more money” or “maybe next year”... why not now? I don’t want to sit here and type out a note of encouragement for you all to travel the world and start a podcast (sorry, that’s already taken), I want you to look at the world as an open opportunity to explore the things that make you truly happy! Gone are the days of having a secure job at a desk with a window - as I write this, my office is a courtyard overlooking a vineyard in the Languedoc district, Southern France. Tomorrow I travel to Barcelona… after that, who knows! I want to reinforce that I haven’t earned a buck this year, but what I have gained you couldn’t put a price on - a stronger sense of individuality, a more decisive direction for my career, internal happiness, an unbreakable connection with my partner, an intense love for all cultures and ultimately confidence that my moral compass is intact.
What if? … maybe?…. could I possibly ever?… am I’m being crazy? … Delete all of these phrases from your vocabulary. Every time you ask yourself ‘what if’ is time wasted, you should be asking ‘what's next?’