Today, a guest post from Emerging Pro columnist Anne McKinnell, who is currently enjoying an extended road trip away from “real life.”
During my 17 years of self-employment, I always organized my work so that I could take a month off every summer. I renewed my interest in photography a few years ago and noticed that some of my best images were made during these vacations when I had time to experience new places, find inspiration, and experiment with new techniques. It’s just not the same when you only have a day on the weekend to create your masterpiece.
When I started planning my career switch into photography, it was hard to take people’s advice to keep my day job. I know it is tough making a living in photography. But I also know that, for me, doing it part-time would not equate to giving it my best shot. To give this a fair shake it needs my full attention.
So I decided to take a risk. I sold my house in Victoria, BC, took half of the money and put it away for the future, and I’m spending the other half taking a year-long travelling adventure with the goal of photographing as many national parks and beautiful places in North America as I possibly can.
I get different reactions when I tell this story around the campgrounds: all the older people tell me I am wise to take this adventure when I am young while I still can; all the young people look at my like I have two heads and ask me what I’ll do when I get back.
I think the older people understand something that most younger people do not: it’s not about money or success, it’s about enjoying your life, and if you wait until retirement you might not get to do it at all. There is more to life than money and owning stuff.
So many times I have looked back and wondered where the last year went. Often I would have memories of that month long vacation, a few boating trips, and some visits with the family. All in all I could account for about 2 out of the 12 months being memorable. The rest of it sped by.
So far, in my new life, I have been travelling for 3 months. It seems like a lifetime ago that I lived in my house in Victoria. I have made so many new memories since then. People say time flies when you are having fun, but it seems to be the opposite for me. Years fly by when I’m wasting them doing the same thing day after day. When I’m making new memories, time slows down. Now I am inspired, I have time to imagine new creative ways of expressing myself, I have time to experiment and play. Now I’m living!
If you want to make a similar change in your life, I have one valuable piece of advice for you that has been the key to the whole thing. Without it there would be no adventure. No Debt. Debt is the one thing that keeps you tied down and prevents you from making choices. Start paying off your debt. Stuff doesn’t matter, sell your stuff, it owns you. When you have no debt you are free.
You don’t need to have a ton of money saved up to travel or to quit your day job to pursue your dream. You can afford it as long as you have no debt. Many people have found ways of travelling or making other life changes with no savings at all. And with a little time on your hands to think, I have no doubt you will find your own creative methods of accomplishing what you really want.
I don’t know if I’ll be successful in my career switch, but now I understand that it isn’t about success.
Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise. ~Author Unknown
To find out more about Anne’s journey, follow her adventures on her blog: http://blog.amckinnell.com