We had talked about blowing it all up for a long time. I’m talking years. “What would it be like if I just quit?” my husband would say after a run of stupid-long days and feeling like his work was never done, nor good enough. I usually said something slightly dishonest like, “Just do it then! I totally support you walking out tomorrow!”
But there was a part of me that could only say that knowing he wouldn’t actually take the leap. Not when he was the primary income earner and me home with 2 babies, living in one of the most expensive places in the world. How would that actually work? Nice idea, but get real.
So we dreamt. And we dreamt, and we imagined, and wondered, and complained. And that was what got our attention – we heard ourselves complaining! There’s not much that bothers me more than when people complain about their situation but do nothing to change it. But that was us, and it felt horrible.
So my husband did what any left-brained engineer would do and made an impossibly detailed spread-sheet to map out what it would look like to start a new life sans traditional jobs. To me, this was essentially a count-down to poverty and hardly tipped the scale in favour of taking a leap.
Though the numbers weren’t convincing, we still had a niggle (okay more like a burning need) to explore more of the world, and we just had to get creative and figure this out. People survive on online incomes all the time right?
So this was our main problem: we were focused on getting online businesses set up, and earning revenue, before we committed to ditching our traditional life. Seems reasonable right? But the problem is that life is so f*cking busy that who could possibly have spare time to set up a business? We sure didn’t.
So last summer after waffling back and forth, riding waves of excitement and complete discouragement, we said a loud and clear “fuck it!” Seriously, what is life about if we can’t at least try to pursue our dreams? And what really helped us along were the simple questions: what is the worst that can happen, and can we tolerate that?
Worst case scenario: we run out of cash, max our credit, and have to get jobs. So we’d be poor-ish and have to pay off credit cards for a while, but that sounded pretty much like our life already.
Adopting that mindset of “can I tolerate worst case scenario” was key. Yes, the answer was yes. What was even clearer is that we couldn’t tolerate NOT doing it. And with that, we pulled the shoot and said goodbye to certainty, a pretty healthy salary, cushy benefits, stability. We also said goodbye to feeling under-stimulated, stifled, trapped, and stuck on a blah-inspiring hampster wheel. Oh, and goodbye to all our stuff that kept us tied to our incomes.
Hello freedom. Hello unknown. Hello to all the challenges of chaos and instability we never saw coming. Hello creativity and choice. Choice. That word is a joy to look at.
We’re almost a year out from that decision, and not anywhere we thought we needed to be. No, I’m not supporting my family online. No, we don’t have fabulous passive income streams. I haven’t learned a language, reconnected with hobbies, caught up on sleep, prioritized my marriage. And while I learn time and time again about the hilariousness of expectations, I humbly tip-toe toward my dreams and continue to choose this lifestyle.
I have learned that you may not need what you think you do in order to take the leap. And that once you take the leap, it likely won’t look anything like you’d imagined. But that’s all okay. You may choose it anyway.
Author: Kate Butler
Kate Butler is a writer, a wanderer, a digital nomad. A mother of two, lover to one, and dedicated to living an inspired, colourful life. She co-authors Flipping Moons and has an online therapy practice, LiveLight Counselling.