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This is a guest submission by Nathan from NonStopAwesomeness.me

Five years ago, I had a secure job, excellent pay, and the freedom to do my work without micromanagement. Yes, I was living in a cubicle most hours of the week, but heck, I had just won a quarterly employee award (ok, it was an award I created, but still!) – I was on top of the world, office-worker wise.

Less than a year later, I gave it all up – I killed that job before it killed me.

Improving an Already Awesome Situation

Let’s go back to the five-year mark…

It became apparent that my work was extremely cyclical: business would dramatically pick up around the firsts of each new quarter, and then really trail off during that middle month. I saw an opportunity to add more flexibility in my life, yet wasn’t sure the bosses would go for it.

In a company of about 50, only a couple employees worked from home, and they were in higher-level positions. But I knew I’d be able to get the work done, and saving two hours each day in commute time would be priceless!

But this is an insurance company that started in the 1950s, looks like it was decorated in the 1960s (at best), and has been family-run ever since – never in a million years did I think that I (a 25-year-old actor) would be able to convince the senior management to allow me to not only work from home as often as I wanted, but to work outside the normal business hours of everyone else!

This is a place that thrived on convention. And yet, they said “yes.” I was dumbstruck… and thrilled.

Here’s one of the best parts: I went part-time. I cut my hours and, (to their delight, I imagine), willingly cut my pay. The point here was to free up my time to focus on my acting career – what I had gone to college for.

Until that point, I had done only a handful of local stage productions around Los Angeles and had taken a few classes. A sitcom offer was clearly not waiting right around the corner.

So how did this experiment go? Brilliantly. I was living the good life: coming in only when I really needed to, working at home in my pajamas, doing laundry during “break time,” and of course, sleeping in! All this only worked, though, because I was still doing my work.

Everything was turned in on time and executed with the same level of quality they had come to expect. The system we had put into place worked, so why change it?

From Out of Left Field

About a year after I started this miracle deal, I was at home working and decided to make a last-minute appointment. I quickly informed the necessary parties: the HR director (just so she knew my whereabouts if anyone asked) and my supervisor (someone who might not be entirely capable at her own position, and who had no idea what I did).

HR took the news fine; it was my supervisor who didn’t. She was worried that a big proposal wouldn’t be finished by the end of the day. I emailed that it would be, and even made some final edits right before I needed to leave, plus when I came back home, I checked to see if there was anything I needed to do. There wasn’t.

A couple days later, I was informed that they were ending remote office capabilities for employees and that I would have to resume a normal schedule and be back in the office. Say whhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaat?

I tried to get to the bottom of the situation, but clear communication is not one of their strong suits. In fact, when I talked to the CEO & CFO independently about this, they each mentioned that the other had been responsible for the decision. Uhuh.

I had a hunch some complaining by others (like, my supervisor) might have been involved, but like I said – it’s only a hunch. Either way, instead of talking to me about anything, a decision was made to apply a band-aid and punish the employee who was successful. Nice.

So there I was – back to the office. Back to waking up early, one-hour commutes, and boring, beige walls. I was back to the grind.

This Job Must Die

Though I never dreaded that place before, now it was a severe kind of hell. I had just spent a year tasting true freedom – and now that was gone? No way! I remember sitting at my desk one day and I thought, “that’s it – before I become bitter and angry and resentful, I need to get out of here.”

And that’s what I did. I set out on a massive online job search. I was very clear what I wanted: close to home, part-time, and a positive environment. Within a few weeks, I found it. It was on Craigslist of all places! I applied, interviewed, and was hired.

With confirmation of my new life ahead, I strolled over to the CEO’s office. When I told him the news, he said, “Yeah, I thought something like this might happen.” Of course he knew – how could you take away an excellent system from a person who was diligent and cared about the business, and not expect that he would get the hell out of there?

Yes, I went to work in another office, but this time, it was different. I was with people who valued clear, open, and honest communication; people who truly cared about the well being of their clients; who liked to have fun and who liked to get the work done. I spent almost three years with that new company. A grind it definitely was not.

The Real Reason I Needed To End That Grind

At the time of my insurance agency departure, I was baffled – how could this have gone so wrong? Was there something else I could have done to salvage it? Looking back, it’s perfectly clear. If they hadn’t overreacted (my opinion), maybe I’d still be there? Would I have ever done anything with my acting? Would I be happy?

I heard through coworkers that the temperament of the office took a nosedive after I left, with one colleague telling me often, “you left just in time.”

Had I not gotten out of that job, who knows if I’d now be living a life of full-time travel, happier than I’ve ever been?

My Life Of Travel

It’s been eight months since I left my “home” and I can’t imagine giving this all up. Sure it can get a little crazy and sometimes it might be nice to have my own space, but I would never trade all the amazing people and experiences I’ve met and have had as a result of this life. Not to mention everything I’ve learned: about the world, about people, and about myself.

Just a few perks from a life of travel…

  • Hearing and seeing new perspectives
  • Getting out of my bubble and seeing what else is going on in the world
  • Visiting family and friends (and making new ones!)

Travel exposes us to ideas and cultures and sights that we might not have ever considered or imagined. It can help you discover who you really are and what you’re here to do. Travel has truly changed my life.

For many years, I viewed paying rent and going to a job as the sensible thing to so; now that I’ve gotten out into the world, I’m confident that, for me, traveling is what makes sense. Being outside my comfort zone, having my boundaries pushed, keeping my brain engaged are all parts of this life that I LOVE and am so excited to continue!

It All Makes Sense Now

About a year ago, I was having dinner with Bob, a former co-worker from my insurance days. By this time, my acting career had some nice momentum and life was looking good on all accounts: I had been on a national Super Bowl commercial, I had just finished up a big regional theatre gig (and my first time working as an actor full-time), I had left my office job, and I was selling everything to begin a life of travel. It was a whole new world.

As Bob and I were talking, he revealed to me, “When you left the agency, I thought you were crazy. How could you give up what you had? I could never have done that.

I laughed a little.

Then he added, “You were totally right. You made the right move.”

How about you – do you know what move to make and you’re delaying the inevitable? Is it time to end something you know is no longer working? Might be a job, a relationship or a project – do what you know to be right and end that grind.

 

Nathan Agin practices and believes in a life of Nonstop Awesomeness, that life is always awesome when we bring our best to each moment. He spent many years in Los Angeles as an actor (he did get paid!) until he decided to get rid of everything and travel full-time.

He writes for his own site, consults on how to travel for free, coaches on reaching goals, lives life to the fullest, and searches out passionate people to interview. He’s currently traveling to and living in different cities around the United States, as he pursues a healthy lifestyle from Point A to B.

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