I quit my job
October 28, 2015
A little over 8 months ago I quit my job. And so did my husband, Neal. Liberating? Yes. Terrifying? Absolutely.
I have been working in the US healthcare system since I was 15 when I started volunteering at the local hospital. From Occupational Therapist to Quality Improvement to IT Project Manager, I felt like I had done it all. And I hadn’t really found joy in any of it. It's something that I had education and experience in, so I kept getting good jobs. Was I happy? Absolutely not. But did I know what else to do with my life? Absolutely not.
So I trudged along, hearing things like “nobody likes their job, it’s just something you do for a paycheck”. I was never satisfied with that sentiment or way of life, but I was too risk adverse to try anything too out of the norm.
I’ve been dreaming about doing photography full-time for years. It’s one of those things that I start doing – whether it’s shooting or processing – and time just slips away. Suddenly it is dark and I think “what time is it??” Nothing else inspires me and motivates me the way photography does.
Ever since I was a kid, I would look at a scene and envision it as a photograph. I just didn’t know how to make the photograph look like the picture in my mind. So finally in my late-20’s I decided to sign up for a local photography class. And then I was hooked. Of course photography isn’t something that you can support yourself with…right? My Aunt Ruth and Cousin Chris told me the first time they saw my photographs, that I should do this for a living. Well it took me a very long time to believe them – 12 years to be exact.
And then one night in a lonely hotel room while working on a project in Chicago, I decided there has to be something else other than dragging myself to work every day. So I got online (what else does one do in a hotel room when looking for answers?) and found the Afford Anything blog by Paula Pant. She talked about amazing concepts like “location independence” and “pave your own path” and “focus on creation not consumption”.
So some ideas started to formulate. I came up with a plan – for the next 2-3 years Neal and I would save money like crazy and keep working at the jobs we were by now sick of. During that time we would figure out how I can become a freelance photographer, and how he can become a writer. We are smart people, right? The internet provides a plethora of world-wide opportunities, right? Oh and did I mention that part of my plan was to move to France? Another dream of mine…
So we would quit our jobs, move to France, and have some savings to rely on until we completely figured out how to make money as freelancers. Sounds like a perfect plan, doesn't it? The next day, I finished work and flew back to New York, where we were living at the time, excited to share my new ideas with Neal. I had even prepared a PowerPoint presentation to really get the ideas across well (I was a project manager, keep in mind).
Well the presentation went off without a hitch – until I looked at Neal’s face. He did not seem as excited as I was about our new life adventure. He might have even thought that I was crazy (although he wisely kept that to himself). Miraculously the next morning I woke up, looked over, and he said, “I didn’t sleep last night, I was thinking about your idea…let’s do it. But let’s not wait 2-3 years, let’s do it in 1.” Wait, what??
At that point my next project began – planning our transition from “standard paycheck with benefits jobs” to “entrepreneurial globetrotting freelancers”. No problem…let the checklists begin. Have I mentioned yet that I have the most amazing and supportive husband ever? Sure he might mock my checklists, but let's face it, he agreed to quit our jobs, move to France and follow our dreams. That's a pretty darn good husband.
Since then I have been spending every available minute (ok other than those watching Modern Family, selling everything we own, and practicing my French – it’s all about balance) studying photography. Although I was always told I had a “good eye”, I needed some improvement in my technical skills, and needed to figure out how to get paid for doing it. So I dove into equipment, technique, software, opportunities, websites, social media, marketing, and business.
Sure the past months have been full of excitement and adventure, but also full of fear, doubt, and worry. Whenever the doubt creeps in, I talk it down, and send it away knowing that it will be back soon. It certainly is a persistent little bugger.
After selling most of our stuff, getting on a boat (that’s another story) and coming to France with our suitcases and dreams, I am now here. Where is here? I’m not sure yet. So far the road has taken us to Toulouse, France, which is where we live right now. I would love for you to follow along, and share your insights and stories with me.