Making the decision to leave my job was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made in my life. Walking away from money on the table was not logical. The safe financial answer was to hunker down and enjoy the benefits of years of hard work.
When I announced that I was leaving, several of my coworkers congratulated me for “sticking it to the man”. I don’t view it like that though. To me it’s the beginning of a transition from employment stability to life stability.
As an American I believe that I’m fed a constant stream of advertising that I never have “enough”. I need more possessions than what I already own. I must work harder and longer to get “more”. More, more, more. When do we have enough? What is the metric used to determine enough?
We decided to exit the financial merry go round for a little while. We sold two of three cars, sold our house and placed our belongings in storage. We resigned our jobs. This is not a flight of fancy, it’s costing us to take this whimsical financial journey. I see the health insurance rates we’re about to pay and I have the urge to vomit. Yet, we’re still doing it.
We’re going to try to exist, for a season, with no income. It’s pretty scary. It’s really scary. Ok, it’s down right frightening.
So that brings me to email. Once the IPhone was introduced my job slowly morphed into a 7 day a week 24 hour response kind of job. It was part of the changing technology landscape and the .txt, email and phone access just creeped up on me, and others, over the years. About six years ago I started trying to take control back. I bought my own personal cell phone and stopped using my company phone for personal business. I stopped answering my company phone at night. I dramatically reduced the work email communication at night and on weekends.
Even with reducing my work cell phone access, I generally remained aware of client challenges and engaged when necessary. Continual connection, even a loose connection, is now just part of my work mentality.
As our thru-hike attempt began I still had a few work emails and phone calls to contend with while I was hiking, but nothing too serious. Honestly, it was just like most of our vacations. A little work here and there mixed in with pleasure.
I had one final meeting with Human Resources to officially resign. HR continues to call it “termination”, which causes me flinch a little bit. Things were the same for a day or two after that meeting, and then they weren’t the same. The automatic login for my work email asked me for a password two days after my official termination. This was the actual termination in my mind.
(This was one of my last work meetings. It amused me to no end that the only electrical outlet in our expensive hikers hovel was directly across from the toilet. So there I sat, on the toilet, wrapping up company business.)
So that was it, I was unemployed. I have now embraced one of the things in life that I fear the most.
For 17 years my company placed a wager on me. A wager, in the form of a paycheck, that I would bring in new clients, maintain relationships with existing clients and increase revenue. Working with an amazing group of clients and colleagues, I delivered.
Back to 3 cell phones? Yeah right, you still got the cdt and the Appalachian. Of course there’s always the Camino in Europe if stateside gets boring. I think you need to change carriers and maybe write a novel about hiking famous trails.
Now that sounds interesting!
I think that constant connection makes one feel wanted, needed, and important. It’s very seductive.
I never felt so much that the company was betting on me, but more that they were paying me to do a job and paying me more to work with the difficulties the job entailed. Like all work is really contract work because companies declare repeatedly that they are never contractually obligated to keep you employed.
Even out of work for more than 10 years I struggle with coming to grips with the reality that our jobs define us, determine who we are in the social landscape. Since my career is so completely nonlinear, it makes no sense to define myself by the jobs I’ve done.
The last crappy day of work!
Good for you guys! Donna and I will be following along with your awesome adventure! You guys are the bomb! We love you! John and Donna
Thanks friends! We love you too!
you aren’t alone. i met an air traffic control supervisor on the trail last year, who’s still (happily) hiking. and now i’m entering the same place as you, with my work email soon clicking off. wow. and yikes! but remember this: you don’t want to die without having lived — and what better way to live than hike the pct?
Mike! Congrats on the clicking off of your own work email. This is definitely living! I’m excited to check out your website too! Noelle