Have you ever thought about quitting your job and going on one big life adventure? My friends, Amy and Yair, recently did:
"We are a young, married couple in the middle of an exciting journey in lifestyle design. After a good deal of planning and saving, we quit our jobs at 24 years old and are taking the next few years to explore our interests and see the world."
They share every step of their journey on their blog, Our Take on Freedom
Since it is a novel approach that might work for some, I thought it would be helpful (as well as interesting!) to get some more insight into why they chose this journey, how they are making money and what their plans are for the future:
For those of us who have not checked out your blog yet, what have you guys been up to over the last year?
Last February and March, we lived on an all-inclusive luxury resort in the Dominican Republic free of charge through a sweet barter arrangement. We spent the summer in Israel (Yair) and Costa Rica (Ayo) respectively, leading teen travel programs. In August, we bought our RV and began traveling the U.S. Highlights included experiencing Burning Man, hiking and training in ballroom dance in Reno, and training in gymnastics in Los Angeles – all free of charge.
We spent this past February in Israel after leading a Birthright trip (another free experience) and Ayo continues to take Faces of Israel, her educational film program, around the country to universities and Jewish communities. The plan for this summer is to visit the sites and national parks in Arizona, Utah and California.
Is this something that you always planned on doing?
Certainly not. Ayo had toyed with the idea of taking ‘a year off’ after college, a la backpacking through Europe but the timing didn’t work out because Yair had another year of school left when Ayo graduated. Instead – and quite differently - Ayo needed to find a job ASAP to pay the rent while Yair finished up school.
Ayo was much more frugal than Yair and led him to the idea that saving money is good. Yair later started reading the writings of Tim Ferris (of “4-Hour Workweek” fame) and Jacob Lund Fisker (Early Retirement Extreme), and we realized that this didn’t have to be just a year off. It could be a lifestyle, a mini-retirement of sorts. It’s only now – one year into it – that we realize we can do this for at least a few more years and keep living unconventionally and also earning a living unconventionally if we so choose.
I believe you had both worked in corporate environments before?
Yup. Yair worked (first as an intern and then part-time during his senior year) in risk management at Bear Stearns, and later worked in liquidity management at DTCC from summer 2008 though early 2010. Ayo worked in management consulting in the Strategy and Operations practice of Deloitte Consulting from summer 2007 through the fall of 2009.
What did you like or not like about the experience?
Yair - Likes:
• Whether you like it or not, status – particularly in NYC – is measured by the career that you have and how well you are performing in it. I had a good career and was advancing quickly.
• It was fun to “play adult”.
• For the most part, I worked with very intelligent people who I could have really interesting conversations with.
• The money was good.
Ayo - Likes:
• I also felt “successful” for having transitioned from the good school environment to a good and coveted job. I learned a lot at the beginning, developed camaraderie and am still friends with others from my analyst class.
• I racked up a lot of frequent flyer points, felt cool for living in hotels and traveling places, and some of my projects were a lot of fun.
• The steady paycheck was of course a perk.
• I liked how Deloitte offered clubs and lots of activities. Once work started to take its fun toll, I began to care more about the activities (community service, not-for-profit consulting, socials) than the business work itself.
Yair – Dislikes:
• Alarm clocks and commuting, particularly in the winter
• Not owning my own time and knowing that someone else could tell me when and where I had to be and what I had to be doing
• Being indoors during the sunny part of the day when it’s nicest outside and I’m most awake
Ayo – Dislikes:
• Fading my personality to fit with the professional corporate mold of how I was supposed to act
• Having workaholic managers who didn’t understand that people wanted a life
• Being given tedious work instead of challenging and exciting things just because I was an analyst
• Having to dress in business attire and have an early alarm clock
Do you think traveling across the country would be for everybody?
No, of course not.
If not, what aspects of your personality make it a good fit?
You need to roll with the flow, be comfortable in new situations, and be excited to explore new things. You also need to have a certain risk tolerance and deal with any potential setbacks without freaking out.
Has the fact you are both very outgoing helped?
Of course. We feel comfortable meeting new people, making friends easily, giving to others, and enjoying the world as our playground. However, this is specific to our experience. More introverted people can definitely still mini-retire, travel, and pursue their dreams on their own terms and with their own style.
Each person and each couple is different. Ayo is much more outgoing than Yair, but Yair more coolly handles a lot of the practicalities like fixing things in the RV and arranging healthcare.
What has this experience taught you about entrepreneurship, if anything?
We’re both working on projects right now (Ayo with Faces of Israel and Yair with Astronomy on the Road). Good ideas take effort and time to see if they can hold up. Realistically assess your financial abilities and your time constraints, and consider taking a leap and following your entrepreneurial interests. You’ll work your (butt) off, but there’s nothing like creating your own project and seeing your idea through to reality.
What advice would you give someone thinking of doing it?
Put some thought into planning, but set a date and figure out what you need to do to make it work by that date. A to-do list can always evolve and lengthen, but a fixed date will be there to jumpstart you into your adventure.
Do you think anyone who won't consider giving something like this strong consideration is missing out? Why/Why not?
I think that people who have heard about the idea and don’t consider it aren’t people who it would be appropriate for. But people should always be asking themselves: Am I doing what I really want to? If not, how can I re-focus and do what I want?
Do you plan to reenter the traditional 9-5/rat race anytime soon? If yes, how will this experience affect your everyday lives in the future?
For Yair, the longer he spends away from a traditional office job, the less inclined he is to go back. Once you taste freedom, it’s hard to give it up.
For Ayo, she doesn’t like the idea of the rat race and tries to stay grounded with what will make her happy and not what will make her look successful to others. Easier said than done, but she would be open to working for a socially-oriented non-profit in the future.
Are you concerned about a 'gap' in your resumes?
Not at all. We’re stronger, more interesting, and more diversified as people because of our experiences. We are pursuing our interests and accomplishing things through our projects and probably wouldn’t be interested in the type of employer who would see this as a gap. If anything, this is the most wonderfully filled “just right” time we’ve ever had.