"I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world." Mary Anne Radmacher
Quitting my job and getting off the wrong path
Just over a year ago I was working for Citibank and it was no secret that I wasn't happy in my job. I had worked myself into a job and onto a path that wasn't for me. I was in a fog of long-term ambiguity, indecision and general discontent. On the plus side I had managed to get to a point where I had no debt and some humble savings.
One quiet Sunday evening I decided I'd had enough of my job, as well as my own indecision, and it was finally time to take some action (or more accurately inaction) so I decided that I wouldn't go back to work come what may.
I didn't yet know what I wanted but I knew for sure what I didn't want. I've now learned that sometimes that's direction enough.
Later that evening my sister, her boyfriend and myself were having a cup of tea and we got to talking about getting away and within about five minutes we had, more or less on a whim, all decided to go to New Zealand as soon as our savings and visa applications would allow. It was an evening and a conversation that I'm eternally grateful we had.
The decision involved facing some big fears like quitting a secure, permanent and relatively well paying job and losing social comfort.
Making the decision together definitely made it easier and I consider myself lucky. To anyone struggling with making the decision on their own I offer an open ear and a barrowful of encouragement if you need it - you should absolutely go for it.
It essentially came down to a simple choice; a dead cert, safe bet of remaining in the same position forevermore, unhappy but secure or the seemingly riskier alternative of uncertainty which held the possibility of either being much worse or much better. No choice at all really, what are we here for in the end? I handed in my notice within a month.
A year of firsts
I've had an amazing year in New Zealand.
I met cousins I'd never met before who are some of the nicest people I've ever met. I met lots of great new friends who I'll remain in touch with and meet again. I discovered sushi , Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Yoga and good coffee (black as night, strong as steel, sweet as love). I met and fell in love with a smart and gorgeous girl. I finally quit smoking and practically quit drinking. I also got my first speeding ticket on an adventure in the South Island!
In addition I figured out a few things I'd like to do with my life and developed some goals that I want to work towards which I previously never had.
The first major realisation I made on arrival in New Zealand was how much I had relied on the safety and comfort of my circle of friends. I have an incredible group of friends back home, people I would live and die for but I hadn't really got to know any new people in a long time - other than random party people. I had no choice but to push myself to meet and get to know people again.
I also realised how much I relied on the validation of those closest to me to ensure my happiness. Your closest friends and family are the best voices to listen to and they will offer some of the best advice you'll get in life but I've learned that it's crucially important to consult your own counsel for the last word - you know your own situation better than anybody else and you have your instinct. I definitely feel like I've become much more emotionally independent over the last year.
My year in New Zealand was a year of firsts. I've travelled a little before, mostly across Europe but this year was my first full year away from home.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
I'm proud that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone a lot and had my first introduction and lessons in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I love it and I can't wait to join a school at my next location! Oss! As a side to this I reached my ideal weight for the first time ever and have sustained it.
Similar to BJJ (which pulled me out of my anxiety about group classes in one fell swoop) I took my first Yoga classes. This was the result of spending our last six weeks in New Zealand living a little way out from the city centre with a Yoga instructor who held weekly classes in her house! Namaste Marilyn.
New Zealand also brought my girlfriend, my buddy and my love; Veronika. Having reached the age of twenty-six I'd somehow skirted ever having a girlfriend but when I met her, we clicked and that all changed.
Blog and writing
I finally made writing a priority as it's something that has always interested me but I'd never felt at liberty to begin. I created this blog and it has worked as I'd hoped - a built in obligation to make myself write and I truly hope that it can help, encourage or entertain anybody. I'm already over the moon with the feedback I've got so far. Thank you.
First business attempt on a whim
Hilariously enough, with few weeks to spare at the end of my time in New Zealand and nothing much else to do with the time, I built up enough courage to try a completely unprepared, non-researched and essentially ridiculous small business plan that to be honest wasn't a screaming success but I saw it through and learned a huge amount.
As well as a lot of firsts I've improved many other areas of my life. I've learned to read a lot more and bought an e-reader which has helped a lot! I finally managed to quit smoking properly (six months and counting!) and for the first time in my life managed to get a real handle on drinking alcohol. I can now savour a pint of Guinness without the desire to follow through into oblivion. I developed a healthy approach to work, I learned to not let it take over my life and how to maximise my personal time outside of work. I also developed and now nurture stronger appreciation and love for my family back home.
I would recommend it to anyone. Quit your job, take a chance. New Zealand is an especially beautiful country with a great climate, a very relaxed culture and an instantly warm reception. You'll have a great time, you'll grow and you'll never look back.