Day 7 | Do Whatever You Want To Do
Quitting my job was the best decision I have ever made. You probably don’t hear that statement uttered very often, do you? You know why? Because society tells us that to be successful you must have a six-figure salary, a house in the suburbs, 2.5 kids and a diversified 401K by the time you are 30. Well guess what, I am 26 and am no closer to that definition of success than I was at 16. Before I quit my job, I was heading down that path. I made six-figures for the first time in 2015.I lived in a beautiful apartment and I was saving for a down payment on a house in the burbs. I was actively dating with the intention of finding someone to marry, and Amazon was matching my contribution into my 401K in stock.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly. Except I wasn’t happy. I hated my job. I would wake up in the morning and lay in bed for over an hour dreading another day of monotony. Once I finally convinced myself to go into the office, I would sit at my desk to save face and pretend like I was working for as long as possible, which was usually around 6 hours, before I would race out the door before anyone noticed I was gone.
At the end of the day, I always needed a drink. It was a way to relive the stress I was causing myself by staying at a job I despised, just so I could keep collecting a paycheck to pay the exorbitant amount I was paying in rent to live close to the office I dreaded going to. It was a vicious cycle, and it seemed like there was no end in sight. Often, I would cry myself to sleep thinking about this being my life for the next 40 years.
Then I would think about the house, the husband, and the kids that I was supposed to want. Did I really want any of those things? A husband, maybe someday. Kids? No. To decide where I was going to live based on the quality of the school district. Definitely not. What was I doing with my life?
I wrestled with the decision to quit for almost 2 years before I got the courage to do it. The main reason that it took me so long was because I felt obligated to stay at Amazon because so many people would kill for the job I had. Who was I to throw that opportunity out the window? And for what? If I quit my job, what else was I going to do? How was I going to make money? How would I survive?
In January 2016, I decided once and for all that I was going to bow out of the rat race. I was going to give society the middle finger and figure out if there was another way to live my life that made me feel successful. I was going to redefine success in my eyes and hopefully the eyes of others who felt trapped like I did. So I booked a one way flight to Bangkok, and told my manager that April 1st would be my last day. Guess what? He wasn’t surprised. He knew I hated my job. He could tell I was miserable and just going through the motions. He wished me luck in finding happiness, if it really did exist.
A year later, I can tell you that I never regret my decision for a second. Sure, there were times when my credit card balance got a little high that I wondered how my life would have been different if I would have stayed at Amazon. But I never thought about going back. I realized that over the course of this year, I was able to find my own definition of success and I was finally happy. This is what I found.
Success is doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, because you want to do it. It’s as simple as that. Whether that is quitting your job, leaving your fiancé, cutting ties with a “friend” you don’t like, or telling your mom you don’t want kids. Whatever. Maybe traveling the world isn’t your cup of tea (though I am not sure how you got to my blog), maybe you want to lead backpacking trips in the National Park an hour away from your home town. Whatever it is that you have thought about doing, you should do it. Right now. Today.
I saw you cringe at that yolo cliché and I can hear the excuses forming in your head.
“Easier said than done. I can’t tell my mom I don’t want kids. I’m an only child and her only chance at grandchildren. That would crush her.”
“I can’t quit my dead end job to travel because I have student loan debt up to my eyebrows. What will people think? What if I can’t pay them back?”
“I have been her friend forever. I can’t just cut her out of my life, even if she is toxic. That just isn’t realistic.”
“I can’t leave my fiancé. He loves me and we already started planning the wedding. Do you know how much money I would lose in deposits? I made this bed, now I have to lie in it.”
You know what I have to say to these and any other excuses you can come up with? Fuck it. Your time on this planet has an expiration date, and only you can control how you spend your most limited resource. There will always be more money to be made. There will always be more people to love. You don’t have to spend your time with anyone who doesn’t bring you joy. And if your mom really wants grandkids that badly, tell her to adopt some. You can never get back the time you spent doing things your hate doing for no other reason than because that is what you are “supposed to do” or because of how it will affect other people.
The mantra I started living my life by when I decided to quit my job to travel was this: If you aren’t doing what you love, you are wasting your time. And since time is not a renewable resource, I now allocate it to things that make me happy like traveling, eating great food, spending time with people I love, helping better the environment, petting dogs (#PetMoreDogs2017), and standing up for things I believe in. In the end, only we can control how we spend our time, so choose joy and fuck the rest.