Last year, I gave myself a gift. I decided to pack up my apartment, put everything in storage and step out into a journey with a very unknown ending. I left a secure job and career behind, recognizing that at the end of the day, after you hit a minimum standard of living, time becomes more valuable than money and is often the thing most sacrificed.
I realized that I had the skills and resources to figure out how to get by with a roof over my head and food on the table no matter what came along, even if that roof was shared with a lot of people and the food was as simple as rice and beans.
So, I struck off for what I intended to be a year of sabbatical. I use the term loosely, because it really just meant that for a period of time, I was going to step away from work and give myself space to learn. While I also planned to travel, my primary intent was to spend the time studying things that would add value to my life and the life of those around me. As a single woman in my thirties, I wanted to take advantage of the freedom that I still had to adventure and explore.
Leaving my job was terrifying. They say the greatest fear lies in anticipation, rather than actually facing whatever you are fearful of, and this sure was the case. Most of us are trained from a young age to look toward that next step. Never leave a job without your next in hand is an often-heard refrain, so what I was doing ran counter to just about any advice I ever heard. My friends and family reinforced it; "Are you sure this is the right decision" was said more than a few times, but once I had told my boss I was leaving, I knew there was really no turning back.
I was so nervous to make the leap... until I did. Then it felt like an easy and obvious decision in retrospect. My first two weeks were spent on a trip to Borneo to celebrate my birthday and trek through jungles with orangutans and other wild things. I hiked a mountain higher than I could have imagined in just 24 hours and hung off the side of cliffs from where I could hardly even see the ground. I went diving and canoeing. I felt alive and free walking through jungles and meeting new people.
My next trips were similarly outdoor oriented, including walking on the Camino de Santiago, hiking in the Dolomites, kiteboarding in the Canary Islands and exploring the sites of ancient villages and underground cities in Turkey.
Along the way, I dove deep into learning and practicing meditation and dedicated a month to becoming a certified Jivamukti yoga teacher through intense study at the Omega Institute in New York. I spent even more time studying over 100 dietary theories with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a certified Health Coach.
At the end of six months, I realized that as much as I loved the travel and adventure, it was the time learning that really struck a chord. All the effort I put into studying yoga, nutrition and meditation had in fact added a great new dimension to life, and I saw that people around me became more curious about the topics as well. I was inspired by the idea that this type of learning should not be a sabbatical away and that I wanted to help people have the same type of experiences of learning and growth, even in the midst of a busy life.
So, I started popexpert.com, a website that connects people with over 1,800 talented experts whose specialties are focused on helping people get better at life, work and play, including people who have dedicated their lives to teaching nutrition, meditation, productivity, career development, music and language. On our platform, each expert offers live face-to-face video sessions that are custom tailored for each individual person. In other words, now anyone can enjoy the same quality of learning I had without leaving the comfort of their home or office. In this technological age, it's not necessary to quit your job or move across the world to find amazing teachers. Popexpert brings them to you, so long as you have internet connection and computer with a video camera.
So, if your time for sabbatical has not yet arrived, check out all the great things you can learn from the comfort of home on popexpert. If you do decide to take the leap and step away from work for a bit to find your passion, here are three guiding principles to make the most of your time:
1) Avoid doing any sort of consulting or advising work related to your previous job
2) Avoid having any sort of expectations around what you will do after your sabbatical
3) Spend time learning things that will add value to your life and the lives of those around you
As for me, today I am busier than ever and loving the new passion and purpose I've found through popexpert. I know that there is no way I could have gotten here had I stayed on the more traditional career ladder, putting one foot in front of the next. I would have never had the same perspective, guts or vision. At the end of the day, our parents didn't always have the right answers. Sometimes you just have to take a step sideways to make a big jump forward.
Meet me at www.popexpert.com/ingrid if you'd like personal coaching on how to take your own sabbatical. It is easier to make the leap than you may think!