Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How to Know if You Should Leave Your Job

My new job, running cabalgatas - horse excursions - in Cafayate, Salta, Argentina. 2010

Soooo a couple of weeks ago I picked up a Sept 2005 issue of O Magazine from a local thrift store here in Bozeman. I was planning to use it for making a vision board but I started reading it instead. And boy oh boy are the articles so poignant to every aspect of my life right now! No coincidence that I happened to pick up this edition and end up devouring its pages. Thank you Universe, as always.

One of the articles I really appreciate actually has a lot to do with helping you decide whether or not you should quit your job and move on to something else, or continue on the path you're on, giving it all you've got. (It also has great commentary from Michelle Obama, before she was the First Lady!)

I've noticed this theme a lot in my life. When I was living in Argentina I met a guy named Cristian. I met him right before I up and moved the entire life I had created for myself in Buenos Aires in search of greener pastures. I moved to northern Argentina where I ran and operated an adventure tourism agency in the small town of Cafayate. I knew relatively very little about this place before I decided to relocate there. I knew I had an interview set up with a vineyard or 2, a guaranteed job at a hostel if I wanted it, and a couchsurfer's place to crash at while I figured it all out. So that seemed like enough.

Cristian, Jess & Choco @ La Bomba Loco en Buenos Aires
But it truly was going into the unknown. A 20 hour bus ride, my life in my luggage, and I had arrived. My senses were alive at this intoxicatingly new place I was to call home. So foreign, only 1 or 2 people in the whole town speaking any English at all. I was a true gringa for the first time and really living there nonetheless.

I turned down the job at the vineyard (but I can now say that my fist interview in Spanish was with the oldest name in wine in South America- thank you Etcharts!) because I knew that running a travel tourism agency was just the perfect fit for me. It was intimidating to be put in charge, left alone to my own devices, and all this on day 2. Selling tours and excursions to places I had never been, in a place that was new to me, and doing it all in Español, che. But I relished every moment of it. It felt so natural, so exciting, yet incredibly relaxing at the same time.

Because of my new job I got to know the area from the people who know it best, and then I got to show it off as well in my new job as a bilingual tour guide. It didn't take long for me to transition into my new surroundings- the 4 hour siestas, the tours of waterfalls, canyons and ruins, the desert living, the folklore music in the plaza at sundown, the majestic nature of it all.

I kept in touch with Cristian throughout all of this and I very vividly remember the day he asked me if he should up and leave his life in Buenos Aires. He was inspired and encouraged by what I was doing, taking huge leaps and experiencing massive benefits, and he too wanted to look for greener pastures.

The river I crossed every day to get to where I worked in the main plaza.
He had nothing holding him back in the city (except for himself) so I told him to either go for it and choose to live the life he wanted to live, or continue to feel a victim to his own happenings. I remember knowing that telling him this would change the course of his life. But I knew he was seeking me out because he was desperate for someone else to encourage him in his dreams. So I did!

He ended up quitting his job, selling his belongings, and BIKING from Buenos Aires to Salta, Argentina, all the way up near Bolivia! His first real stop was to come visit me in Cafayate. While it didn't end up working out between the 2 of us, different life paths, it was an incredible thing to experience. The enormous smile I saw on his face as he biked into town. He had taken the reins of his own being and it paid off.

He still writes me sometimes to thank me, to say that he loved the new job he found, that he was on such a high in life, that he was so stimulated yet more relaxed than ever. I know the feeling. My entire Argentina experience was like that, and life pretty much has been ever since. I know that he has since moved back to Buenos Aires to be with his family more, but he is a changed man, a happy and strong man who does not fear life but embraces it fully.

I hope sharing this story has encouraged many of you who have asked me about whether or not it's worth it to go out there and reach for your dreams. If you never try, you'll never know. It can be the most frightening experience in the world, to leave behind what you know, the comforts of home, for the complete unknown. But in my eyes (and in my heart) staying 'stuck' is far more frightening than being brave enough to take that first step.

This is my life! I often had to pinch myself.
Still do.

What do you think?

If you're on the fence about your job or your career, here are the questions that the Oprah article by Suzy Welch suggests you ask yourself:

1- Does this job allow me to work with 'me people'- individuals who share my sensibilities about life- or do I have to put on a persona to get through the day?

2- Does this job challenge, stretch, change, and otherwise make me smarter- or does it leave my brain in neutral?

3- Does this job, because of the company's 'brand' or my level of responsibility, open the door to future jobs?

4- Does this job represent a considerable compromise for the sake of my family, and if so, do I sincerely accept that deal with all of its consequences.

5- Does this job- the stuff I actually do day-to-day- touch my heart and feed my soul in meaningful ways?

The article mentions, 'These questions won't tell you if you should become a veterinarian, work in high tech, write a novel, manage a restaurant, or open your own advertising agency. The questions will however, guide you once your journey has begun, their answers suggesting whether you should stay in a job and give it your all or get up the gumption to move on to something else. Eventually, the questions, which you can ask either about the job you currently hold or a position you are considering, will steer you toward the career that... turns work into joy.'

Enjoying maté in my blissful new Cafayate surroundings, so serene inside & out.

For all of those who are wondering, for all of those who are asking, for all the Cristian's out there who just need extra help believing, I say DO IT. Ask yourself these 5 questions, be real, be honest, and find the work that brings you joy. 
I'd love to hear how you do it...


For the full Oprah article, Getting Unstuck, click here.
Thank you to all who have encouraged and been with me every step of the way!

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