This story is part of the Taking the Leap resource, a database of real-life stories from people who’ve gone from job dissatisfaction to career emancipation.
This story is designed to inspire & give courage to anyone who is on the verge, and feeling called, to quit their job in order to pursue something more meaningful. This is part of the Taking the Leap resource, a database full of real-life stories from people who have successfully gone from job dissatisfaction to career emancipation. These stories include the truth about what it’s like & what it takes to make the leap — so you can figure out for yourself whether taking the leap is right for you.
When we got married we were in our early 50’s. Betsy had her own gourmet gift basket company, and Pete was Director of Marketing for a wildlife conservation non-profit. Assessing our situation as newlyweds, we realized we would not be equipped for a traditional retirement of the sort our parents had, which included pension and investment income along with their Social Security. It’s an understatement to say this realization was disappointing. Little did we dream that eight years later we’d be location independent, living on a tropical island, and starting a 2 year around the world trip!
It was reality eight years ago that we would be part of the working retired, and still is today. This is a group whose numbers are higher than you might think. According to CNBC and other news sources as this is written, a third of all Americans have no retirement savings whatsoever. This is a recipe for extreme vulnerability and manipulation, which has the potential for economic and personal disaster.
We decided we had better figure out something we liked to do, and could continue doing if our health or mobility was compromised as we aged. The only way that was going to work for us was to continue working our day jobs and merge whatever this “side hustle” was going to be into a full-fledged, diverse income stream.
The natural solution was to work online. Because we wanted to travel, we began to follow bloggers who were location independent, and studied different ways how to make money. Pete found a company (Zazzle) that produced items he designed when a buyer purchases them. Since Betsy’s gift basket business was inventory-based and location-focused, she sold it and began concentrating full time on writing and blogging.
Pete had designed a political bumper sticker with Zazzle for the 2008 elections, and all of a sudden it started to sell. Again and again, his phone would signal another sale was made. Believe me, we took notice of this! He decided to make more products with Zazzle, and boom, we were in business.
After several years of working what essentially became a second job, Pete felt ready to take the plunge and quit his marketing position. This was a big leap of faith for us, but the timing was right. We’d just been through the death of Pete’s parents within six months of each other. They had both expressed regret that there were things they had left undone, which was heartbreaking.
We didn’t want to be in the same position at the end of our days. Instead, we wanted to get off the lifestyle treadmill, travel, and enjoy life more. Through Pete’s consistent efforts we achieved critical mass with about 30,000 products available in various online stores. The timing was as right as it was ever going to be.
We tested things out working from the road on a series of road trips in North America which were successful, and then took a vacation to Hawaii. When we set foot on the Garden Island of Kauai, we both felt an instant connection. We decided to sell everything on the mainland and move here.
Our kids thought we were (hopefully temporarily) nuts. Friends and relatives said, “sure, sure.” We came to a point where we needed to be fully engaged with this decision, working on making it happen. Either that, or we had to stop talking about it because we weren’t going to be doing what we said. So for the rest of that year, we de-cluttered and downsized, leaving frigid Minnesota in our flip-flop slippers on a day when the thermometer registered 6 degrees.
Making a big change can be scary, too scary for some people. Even those who weren’t making our decision felt scared for us, and didn’t hesitate to tell us what they thought. We both tend to characterize this kind of fear as exhilarating. We knew we’d made the right decision when we started seeing reports of the polar vortex winter everyone on the mainland was having. While paradise is far from perfect, it has been perfect for us.
The lifestyle and values here on Kauai were just the kind of atmosphere we needed. It’s a slower pace of life in the midst of staggering beauty. Our home in the jungle has been a sanctuary where we’ve felt focused and connected. We embraced the spirit of aloha, the backbone of Hawaiian culture. Visitors from home remarked how much more relaxed Pete, in particular, had become.
Our online business activities have expanded into several diverse income streams (print on demand stores with over 80,000 products, marketing websites, consulting and freelance work, books and information products). This combination feels far more secure than we ever felt working for other people who could fire us at any time, or in a business that could close its doors with little notice. If one of our income streams is interrupted, there are others to fill the gap.
And we’ve traveled more! We spent five weeks earlier this year in Europe and Russia for the Winter Olympics, and now we’re beginning a 2 year around the world trip in September. For folks in our little town of Hanalei, this isn’t unusual. People arrive, stay, leave for a while, travel all over the world and find their way back. This is our intention, too. The spirit of aloha is magnetic. 🙂
None of this would ever have been possible if we’d told ourselves we had to adhere to the fairly traditional path we’d walked almost our entire lives. If there is anything we’ve learned, it’s don’t be afraid to make an unconventional choice, particularly when you’re young. But don’t tell yourself you’re too old, either!
And don’t talk yourself into inaction using personal circumstances as an excuse. We believe that leads to ceding control of your life, which is the road to victimhood. You do not have to be a victim of circumstances. Get up and get moving!
Another critical piece of advice is to trust your gut instinct. Even if you’re surrounded by naysayers – and we’ve had plenty! – know your purpose and do the right thing for you.
Come from a place of love and confidence in your thinking. You’ll get more self-reliant out of practicing self-reliance, just as you would practice any skill. If you’re thinking of quitting your job, do so responsibly by having a plan. Be honest and unafraid to tweak or pivot if need be; tell yourself you’re in it for the long haul. Your first idea might not work, and you could fail. It happens! Don’t give up.
Check out these posts on mindset and others from our Lifestyle/Mindset archives:
- Making Money Online: Be the Tortoise, Not the Hare
- No Matter What You Do, You Will Piss Some People Off
- Game Plan: Minimize Regret
- 5 Big Lifestyle Change Mistakes You Should Avoid
This all might seem simplistic, but none of it is easy. We work on our businesses six to eight hours per day, most days. The difference is we get to put the time in when we want to, not when someone tells us we must. And we can always make time for walking on the beach, or a trip to town for a pleasant lunch and happy hour with friends. This sort of independence feels far better to us than fancy offices, designer clothes and power breakfasts ever did.
There are lots of folks who have been inspired to make similar changes toward a better life just as we have. Google “digital nomad” or “location independence.” Check out our About page for more of this messaging, and feel free to join us on social media, too. Here’s our Facebook page and we’re @passingthrucom on Twitter.
If you’re on the verge of taking the leap to quit your job, but aren’t quite sure you have what it takes, we invite you to check out more of these inspiring stories by going to the Taking the Leap resource, where you will have access to some other stories just like this one.
And, if you’re at any stage of similar decision-making, we’d love to hear from you either in the comments, or via private email. We’ll do what we can to encourage and support. Aloha!