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Last year I quit my job and spent 200 days traveling around the country in an RV, working hourly wage jobs. This wasn’t something I had planned out for years. As a kid I didn’t grow up, wanting to go out and work hourly wage jobs (none the less one in every state). I quit my job last year because I knew it was something I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t see myself in sales. I’m young and able to experiment with my career, so I took a risk.
If I’m being honest, my journey could have very easily been traveling across America visiting goat plantations (not sure if that’s a thing). Alyssa and I were hell bent on traveling and Hourly America gave us a mission to keep our travels centered and without getting stale. Believe it or not traveling can be a not-so-glamorous endeavor at moments and having a project to keep you going will go a very long way.
Along our trip the question I was probably asked most was, “Why did you decide to do this?“. While my reasoning always stayed the same, I always struggled coming up with an answer that seemed to satisfy people’s curiosity. Sometimes I would say I was bored in my day job and other times I would say I wanted to be a writer and pursue my passion, but these were really surface level reasons. I was afraid they would look at me weird if I told them the true reason, which was:
Yes, that sums it up. I was discontent. I woke up each morning and told myself I was meant to do something amazing with my life. I told myself I was put on this Earth for a purpose and I was going to figure out what that purpose was, even if it meant working a job in every state. Of course, running away from the world and your responsibilities will never solve any problems. I learned this a long time ago, the first time I quit my job and ran away to California (but this is a story for another time).
My attitude towards finding meaningful work in my life has always went something like this:
Don’t be afraid to try new things and leave what’s comfortable. If you’re afraid to leave comfort, you’ll never figure out what you are supposed to do. And with each new job or career you try, you’re one step closer to figuring out what you want to do with your life. With each job you find that you “hate” or find “discontent with”, you’re able to cross another option off the list.
As for me, I’m 49 steps closer than most who have only experimented with one or two different jobs. I heard someone say at a conference last year, “Your twenties are more about throwing a bunch of wet spaghetti noodles at the wall and seeing what sticks.” I love that quote and believe it’s so true. Most of us don’t know exactly what we are supposed to do right after college or high school. Yet, we all feel the pressure to settle down in a career and work our lives away in a “real job”.
My experience over this past year has taught me the value and freedom in simply not being afraid to try new things. Working 49 jobs to date has helped me recognize just how much opportunity is out there. With each new job I’ve worked I’ve realized that most of us have so much unrecognized potential. We put ourselves in tiny little holes and think we are only good at one or two things, when in reality there are thousands- millions of different jobs out in the world, waiting to be filled… by you.
When I graduated from college I was almost convinced my tiny hole was being a salesman. Everyone told me I was good with people and I should stick with sales. I accepted this answer to my life’s calling, at least for the time being, because I told myself I was young and needed to “earn my keep”. I knew that nobody starts out at the top of the ladder and I was okay with working my way up. The only problem with this mentality? I was at the wrong ladder. I didn’t want to climb the ladder in sales. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and writer.
Developing skills as a salesperson was valuable experience, but my trajectory in that job wouldn’t have helped me climb to where I wanted to be as quickly as I have in the past year of my life. At the moment I’m working as a partner with a Random House author, editing my documentary, and have done a lot of other cool things that help me stand out and be different from most people my age (24).
The point I’m trying to make is, don’t ignore the discontent in your own life. People try to make excuses and say “this is the real world”, but that’s terrible advice and a death sentence. I’m not sorry for saying it either. If you want to live a boring and unfulfilled life, then ignore the discontent you feel for what you’re doing everyday. If you want to find more adventure and fulfillment, take the first step- which is, admitting you don’t quite know yet what you want to do with your life but you’re going to look for it.
I’m not saying you have to buy an RV, quit your job, and travel to all 50 states. There are a lot of ways to find more meaningful work, but there’s no excuse for doing something you hate any longer than you have to.