Before Your Job Kills You


If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard someone say “I want to quit my job and travel the world!”, I’d have a megaton of useless post-Brexit pennies, that no shop or bank would want any part of.

What most of these people really mean is, ‘I hate my job’, or ‘I hate my life’, or ‘I want to get the fuck out of here before it’s winter again and I have to spend 20 minutes defrosting my car at 6am’.

Basically, ‘I don’t want to deal with these problems, so I’m going to Thailand’.

*Awkward Silence*

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from abandoning my home life (more than once) to travel is that it’s an easy form of relief.

Suggesting that travel is escapist in nature will no doubt have many a travel blogger up in arms, but for a lot of us, it’s true.

When you touch down in a foreign country, you don’t have to think council tax or about when your boiler will next explode – the only things that matter are food and shelter.

It’s as though you’ve hit the reset button, and you’re suddenly at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy.  Travel is a social experiment that enables you to briefly reframe your life, and leave all the bullshit behind.


To keep playing this game over and over though, to hang out at the bottom rung of the pyramid on a day to day basis, eventually becomes exhausting.  The novelty wears off, and you just start to long for what you had before –  that being, your own washing machine, and knowledge of which food you can eat without randomly shitting yourself in a shopping mall.

There are a select few who truly love to travel – these crazy people go to India and live in a squat with great gusto, or go hiking in Iran without using Instagram once.  Their parents were probably hippies when they were conceived, and consequently they are hardwired to eat street food in Tehran for 5 months straight.

That isn’t most of us.  Most of us just want a bit of change.

After registering the domain for this blog, I had my usual “oh no, what have I done?” moment – the one that comes seconds after every domain that I register.

Although I actually quite like the name, I was worried about what kind of message I’d be sending out to any young, impressionable idiot that might drunkenly stumble upon this place.

There is A LOT of this “Quit Your Job and Travel The World” stuff floating around the Internet, and honestly, it’s hard to separate the useful advice from the dreamy marketing spiel.

And I would know – I was that impressionable idiot that quit his job two years ago, harbouring dreams of global travel and making my own way financially.

Whilst I certainly do not regret (very shakily) handing in my notice on that fateful day two years ago, I am a different person now, and possess a less totalitarian view on what it means to have a fulfilling life.

My decision was born out of misery and desperation.  I was unhappy in my job and in my life, and instead of attempting to tackle the roots of my struggle, I took the nuclear option and tried to bin it altogether.

There were numerous blogs and websites presenting this course of action as a quick fix.  And when you’re desperate, it’s easy to cling to anyone or anything that is claiming to solve your problems.  And it’s also easy to ignore that it’s often a prelude to the sale of e-book or a course that you don’t need.

It’s preying on the weak.  Or ‘business’, I think they call it.


So some time later, after returning home from gallivants through some countries in different directions, a couple of important truths slapped me right in the face.

Firstly, that you cannot run away from yourself.  I’ve been preaching this ‘where ever you go, there you are‘ thing for years, but it seems as though I forgot to apply the lesson to my own life.  Even though I may have claimed otherwise, I frequently thought my problems would be resolved in another country or culture – strangely, I even thought this upon returning to my own country.  But guess what? Turns out I’m the same person with the same insecurities, where ever I go.

No matter where you are in the world, how unique your environment, or how many stimulating and interesting people you surround yourself with, your darkness will remain with you until you confront it.

(I bolded that for scariness)

And secondly, that every decision in life has an associated cost.

Want to tour the world and live like an wild person?  Well then say goodbye to community and say hello to my good old buddy loneliness. Or perhaps you’d rather stay with your friends and family?  Then enjoy your 9-5 rot and the haunt of wanderlust.  And your exploding boiler.  In January.

Of course, these are generic examples, loaded with assumption  But you do have to pick your struggles, whatever your circumstances.  Life is a series of sacrifices and negotiations.  I could ride these cliches all day, but you’re better off having a read of that clever bastard Mark Manson.

Do I think YOU should quit your job?  And travel the world?  The answer, as with everything, is it depends.  What do you value most in life?  What is your risk tolerance?  Do you have people that depend on you?

It’s a difficult question to answer.

The lucky thing is that we’re in 2016, and living a life on your own terms is a lot more plausible than most people realise.  You can work from anywhere, make money in all sorts of brilliant and downright stupid ways, and be in near constant communication with friends and family, where ever you go. And if you hate it, you can always go back.

At this point I should add that I, like most other people who act like they have it all figured out, really know nothing.  I go through my days clueless as to where I will go next, and what tomorrow will bring.  My only superpower is that I’m generally open to fumbling my way through uncertainty and new experiences.

But anyone can do that – it just takes a mindset shift.  To start really that life is your choice, and that the possibilities are numerous.

And that is what BeforeYourJobKillsYou really promotes.  Opening yourself up to new experiences, and not allowing the conformity of the 9-5 loop to stop you from doing weird stuff that makes you question everything about yourself.  Your only obligation (unless you have kids) is to yourself, and not to some societal expectation.

For some of you, that might just mean giving your boss the finger and deciding to go and live in a shack in the Bolivian jungle.  Or staying where you are and eating some Bolivian Antichucho at home in your IKEA kitchen, instead.  Whatevs.  Do your own thing – that’s what’s important.

To summarise – I AIN’T SELLIN’ NO DREAM.  Took me 1200 words, but I got there.

I think that’s enough drama from me for one day.

In case you’re deeply confused by the message at play, here’s an inspirational scene from a film that everyone hates (except me).  You know what, ignore what I just wrote – just watch the video.

Until next time.



Comments 7

  • Thanks for the good article 🙂 really enjoyed it!

  • I like the way you’re calling up all the recent hipster-entrepreneur-speak and at the same time deeply distrust the sunset-on-a-beach-with-a-Mac colo(u)ring … I find myself dreaming about the nomad life again and again, but at the same time, I’m “too old for that shit”, as Danny Glover used to say in the Lethal Weapon movies. I have kids that are almost old enough to start dreaming of the nomad life, and yet: Once you traveled for more than the usual 2-weeks-with-breakfast-included trips, once you’ve lived in a foreign country, even if it was “only” in the safe confines of an exchange year within a university infrastructure, it’s too late. The virus is deep inside you, and you keep fantasizing about doing that again, going away, starting over, feeling the exhilaration that comes when the local bus driver in a place very far from “home” starts recognizing you in the morning … I keep applying to positions that do it “half-way”, the safe way, like DAAD exchange gigs for two years and such. And I figure if that doesn’t work out, I can always wait a few more years, until my kids are both adults and can fend for themselves, and then move to Hawaii or Kowloon or the Pacific Northwest US or Canada or a place I haven’t even realized would work as well … Yep, it’s always the safer options, I realize that, but I’m completely content with that kind of “balanced adventure”. And as for membership cards or achievement badges: I pride myself in having done it mainly before it was all digital, when digital was just emerging and still kind of restricted to: oh, I could send an email and maybe there are a few websites out there. I’m only exaggerating slightly. In the meantime, I’m living the digital bedsitter life, at least it’s not a cubicle/open floor/office/9-5 job, but I’m winging being self-empolyed. So again, I chose the half-way route, for now. Good luck in Asia, may you find the elusive nomad jackpot! Cheers!

  • “The novelty wears off, and you just start to long for what you had before – that being, your own washing machine, and knowledge of which food you can eat without randomly shitting yourself in a shopping mall.”

    I laughed so much. Live your writing. Thank you!