Social media has allowed people to share inspiring stories more than ever before, and the rise of GIF-laden, viral content websites has fed our addiction to virtual escapism. People view these websites as the antidote to boredom – a departure from the tedium of their daily routines. But this is just filler. There is no substitute for real experiences. My advice to all the 9-to-5ers who feast their eyes on articles that show other people doing incredible things: stop scrolling and go do them yourself. Here’s why.
You can always go back to your old career. Your exact position may no longer be available, but your skills and expertise are not going anywhere. If you are a talented designer, for example, you will still be a talented designer in one, two or five years. The only difference is that you will possess new memories that will not only develop who you are as a person, but will also likely enrich your professional perspectives, insights and capabilities.
It’s not hard to make money abroad. If you worry that quitting your job to chase a dream will leave you penniless and on the streets, don’t. Don’t let this be the reason you stay in an unfulfilling job miserly hoarding your vacation days and creating a countdown calendar for the next 3-day weekend. While it’s a good idea to have savings before embarking on an adventure, there are plenty of ways to make money while you travel. I was able to move to Spain by teaching English. Throughout my travels in Europe I’ve met people who work at seasonal destinations like ski resorts, find part-time positions at hostels or even trade labor for room and board. There are several work exchange programs available, like the popular WWOOF.
You will never regret trying something new. Even if you decide that leaving your friends and family to live in a foreign country (or several) is not for you, you will know that you did something amazing. Quitting a job is hard. Moving to a new place is scary. Embrace your doubts and welcome your fears like new friends. Get to know them, work through them, move on. When you leave your comfort zone, you discover a personal strength that is anything but regrettable – even if things don’t work out as you’d planned.
When you stumble upon an image of someone standing on rugged cliffs in Portugal, riding on horseback through the Andes Mountains or hiking the Inca Trail in Peru, stop thinking “I wish that were me.” Because it truly can be.