So you want to quit your job to travel?

Last Updated on March 17, 2021

A friend of mine decided to quit his job and go for extended vacation before starting work in his new place. Prior to quitting, he was stressed up and was a chain smoker. Till one day he decided to throw in the towel…. quit the lucrative but stressful job. Sometimes I feel sorry for him because he was given enormous goals to accomplished but his hands were tied (means with limited budget and resources).

When I asked why he had wanted to quit, he told me that he knew if he continued on, his health would go downhill. Then regardless of how much money he had there is no point because he would not be able to enjoy it. I am glad he knew it also because he had always sounded short of breath when he was on the phone.

Anyway, another week later I send him an email to say hi and he told me he is happily vacationing in Europe.

Unwinding from job stress to go for a good break.

When each day you go to work and you feel the world is closing on you, and nothing helped, you may need at least a short break to put things in perspective. It works for some people- I’ve known a few ‘wonderwomen’ who have no problem enduring their stressful job but would go for a few short vacation each year to unwind. A former head of department of mine is quite adventurous- she would go to non conventional places like Tibet, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa. And then she would come back and work, and then few months later another short vacation.

It need not even be a high budget travel. You can visit nearby countries or just get out of town to go for a retreat in a quiet and peaceful place.

If you have been suffering years of stress and burn-out till the extend your health’s affected, a 2 weeks vacation may make you feel better for a short while or depressed when you know you need to go back to work.  For the lucky ones, they may get a better offer where the new company is willing to wait for longer period- and so they got their chance to travel first.

But for those who are really burnt out, sometimes they really need a total break. Perhaps they have been addressing the needs of others without addressing their own. That they’ve never taken into account their own talents, interests and needs. For those who are planning to do that, I would always suggest that there should be enough savings of at least 6 months to cover the financial commitments like loans, bills, living expenses. This is excluding the extra savings required for travel. I’ve mentioned in my other blog about the considerations and preparation that we must make prior to the decision.

Changing your perspective

There is something therapeutic about throwing caution to the wind, and leaving to an unknown country. Of travelling and seeing the way other people live. Once you have done it, you would develop more courage and confidence in yourself. When you are on your own, you need to learn to be independent and make decisions. You need to know what you want. You set a destination to yourself and need to prepare to get there. And then, along the way, there would changes in plan- and how can you respond or adapt to changing situations. After all, you are in a foreign country and a lot of factors are out of your control. Perhaps they do not speak your language, and there is a totally different culture and staple food that you need to get used to.

When you know what you want, you stop letting other people make decisions for you. It’s not that they have bad intentions, but no one would know you the way you know yourself. How can other people figure out what makes you happy when you can’t figure that out for yourself?

In the past, I used to get very scared easily- in fact, a friend once knew me as being timid and he was surprised I started travelling, often by myself. After a period of staying in the forest, surrounded by total darkness and strange sounds (not much entertainment in the wild because basically it gets so dark that you can’t see your own palms once it is 7pm).  There is no way to run but the only thing is to turn and face the fear- fear of darkness, of snakes, unknown, etc. When you get through that, nothing much really can scare you anymore. What is a manipulative bullies at work compared to life threatening dangers?

Of course, before you impulsively thrown in your letter and go for travel, I sincerely need to remind you of these important considerations:

  • having enough savings to last you 6 months at least
  • the best is you leave with another job offer and not without a job- or else the next time you apply for a job, you would have to settle for a lower starting pay…. but if you are already so burnt out and going to go crazy, well…

Health problems usually have its origins in the mind. When there are issues that we cannot settle and choose to supress or ignore, these issues would later manifest in health ailments. There is a strong connection between high blood pressure, heart ailments, diabetes with stress. I have no regrets that I have not ignored my inner urgings to quit my job 4 years ago and go into an adventure of a lifetime for a year.  A lot of inner healing took place. Even now that I am back in working life and equipped with more experience (and some people said maturity), I’ve chosen to stay on to focus on overcoming my inner constraints that only this job seems to be able to provide (by pushing me to my limits, to beyond my comfort zone and to push me to rise above despite of myself).

And the thing about life, at least in mine and many people that I know is that once a hurdle is overcome, another one of different level comes along.

My newest challenge now working in an environment that is driving many (including long serving staff) to leave or risk going crazy….. is to let go and don’t let the stress get to me…which is now manifesting itself into stubborn belly fat. It is the newest challenge that I plan to take on- because if I am overcome it, then I can share with the countless people who are going through this problem right now.

One day, when you have gotten your break, opening your eyes and seeing things totally at a new perspective, and charged enough to face the challenges ahead, you may then consider tackling whatever hurdle or challenge that previously you could not pass through.

I would end this with a meaningful postcard mailed to from Beijing- from a person who quit the job to go there and it was the bravest thing ever done 🙂






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