“The most dangerous risk of all–the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” — Randy Komisar via AnnieAndre.com
The more people I meet, the more I hear that people aren’t happy with their day jobs. They want more out of life and are tired of the daily office grind. Maybe you want to travel the world, become a digital entrepreneur or just find work that’s meaningful to you. If becoming an expat is what you’re after, I’m here to tell you it’s not some unattainable goal. If it’s just something you’ve been toying with to do in the future, maybe today is the day you should take action. Nothing is that far from reach…
Why you should quit your job and move abroad
First, let me say that moving abroad isn’t for everyone and might not be a goal of yours. But I’m certain that you’ve been meaning to do something in your life for a while now, so allow my “quit your job and move abroad” example to serve as a metaphor for whatever you’ve been putting off in your life.
Maybe for you, that thing you’ve been meaning to do is closer to home like opening your own business, starting a blog, coming up with a new fitness routine, cleaning out the garage or just finding balance in your life. Not everyone wants the same thing and that’s OK.
This post is about getting off your butt and doing something.
We can all identify with that.
First, if you’re perfectly content with your day job and every single thing in your life, then this post isn’t for you. Plenty of people enjoy their jobs and are happy. But I know many of you reading this have toyed with the idea of living abroad, doing that thing you’ve been meaning to do and maybe experiencing life from a different point of view.
Let me share my take on making a major life change that may not be comfortable at all:
JUST DO IT ALREADY
No one is going to hold your hand and force you to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Before you know it, you’ll be 90 years old wondering where your life went and why you didn’t make stuff happen for yourself when you had the chance.
Why wait until some undetermined point in the future to do something that you know right now you want to do?
I’m not OK with working my butt off day in and day out with two weeks of vacation per year. Doing this all the way up until retirement to live the way I want at age 70+ doesn’t make sense to me. So that’s why I changed my life.
Many people have said to me, “Oh Diane, you’re so lucky. You live in France…” And I stop them right there. Luck had nothing to do with it. I didn’t fall out of bed one day to find my suitcase packed, money in the bank, with a first class ticket on Magic Fairy Airlines, destination: France.
No. It never works like that.
My goal was to move to France and my choices leading up to that move got me here. This didn’t just happen to me while I idly stood by. I moved to France last year to be with Tom, but the first time I moved to France in 2009, Tom wasn’t even in the picture…
I got to where I want to be because I made it happen.
Make a plan, be patient, then take action.
By no means am I saying to recklessly quit your job and move abroad (or do whatever it is you want to do without forethought). That would be stupid. But take the steps necessary now to set yourself up for success in the future.
In my case, I worked a corporate job for several years out of college and saved money in the process. I knew I wanted more than the same old day-to-day office life but wasn’t sure what. So until something caught my eye, I kept saving. I had always been fascinated with France ever since visiting at age 16 and made sure I had a few things to look forward to during the work week to keep me motivated enough to keep working toward my goal. I took French classes at Alliance Francaise both in NY and NJ to quench my thirst for French, took tennis lessons and made sure that my time spent outside of work mattered. But I wanted more.
When I found a teaching opportunity in France and applied, I was hoping I’d be accepted and dreamed of what my life would be like abroad. A few short months later, my dream was just a few weeks away and I quit my job to embark on bigger and better things.
So be realistic in the planning stage and research. After the vacation mindset wears off, you’ll see that life abroad is hard work. I got a taste of the French bureaucracy for the first time in 2009 when I had to get my visa and work contracts all sorted out. This would probably discourage a less tenacious person.
I handled these frustrations with a few glasses of wine and a whole lot of complaining. But guess what? I got through it.
Know what didn’t factor in? Fear of the unknown and the what-ifs. They’re paralyzing if you’re not careful. I knew what I wanted and took the steps to get there. And found a fantastic husband in the process. I am happy with the choices I’ve made. Was it easy to make such life changing decisions?
No, but nothing worth doing is ever easy.
You might feel stuck like you can’t quit your job and move abroad.
Let me tell you right now that you’re not as stuck as you think you are.
Yes, you may have a mortgage, personal debt, a dog, a family, this and that and the other thing. But you’re not stuck. Those are just roadblocks your mind is putting up as excuses as to why you can’t take the next step in your life that you so desperately want. The roadblocks come from fear. And your rational mind will tell you 101 reasons why pursuing your dream to live abroad/make that change is not a good idea.
But what does your heart tell you?
What would your life look like if none of those things could get in the way? Would you be on a far off beach somewhere sipping pina coladas? It’s not impossible. It just takes some planning. Maybe you feel stuck because you don’t know what to do or how to start.
Well, to find inspiration, take a vacation to the place you’ve been putting off your whole life. Go talk to the person who inspires you most. Do whatever it is that will light a fire under your butt. You will not regret this.
Let me tell you that nothing amazing is going to automatically fall into your lap. Just jump already!
Some of us are luckier than others and great things fall into our laps, but if you just wait around for some great opportunity to present itself, you may be waiting forever. Whatever you need, figure out how to get it. Need help? Ask people for it. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no and you’re right back where you started?
Remember that things do work out in the end.
At the time, a job loss or a missed opportunity may feel like the end of the world, but once those things are in the rear view mirror, you’ll be able to pick yourself up and move forward.
People love to crush others’ dreams and hopes and happiness…
…and tell you why it’s so hard to quit your job and move to France/work from home/run a marathon/etc. I know this firsthand. People said, “Oh, it’s so hard for an American to find work in France…” and they proceeded to rattle off a whole bunch of reasons why this was so. Numerous people told me this. But after my teaching contract ended, I was offered a regular full-time job in Paris at a corporate language school. Yes, the salary was miserable and the timing wasn’t right for me, BUT the point here is that if you make things happen for yourself, they happen.
I think it’s easier for others to tell you 100 reasons why something won’t work than for you to focus on finding the two reasons why it will work.
Anywhere you look, there are hurdles to overcome, right? So why would moving abroad be any different? Don’t let others get you down. I say ignore the naysayers. There are plenty everywhere you look…
Here are some resources that may help motivate you and/or help you to find a job abroad:
JobsInEurope: For English speaking jobs in Europe. You can check out country specific jobs or just search by industry. This site is updated frequently.
IELanguages: Jennifer was an English language teaching assistant in France and is now studying in Australia. She has a jam packed site full of language learning info and great French slang guides.
Ash of The Middle Finger Project is a digital entrepreneur and has a sassy style that will inspire you from the first paragraph. She could get a vegetarian to eat meat in heaps. She’s that good.
ExpatForum: Curious about what life abroad is really like? Browse the Expat Forum where thousands of people all over the world come to together to answer questions and provide support.
AnnieAndre Practicle Adventure-ology: Annie will help you to take a career break to live your adventure from anywhere. She’s living proof it can be done.