I quit my corporate job six years ago today. Up till then I’d told myself that I could put up with all the bullshit “for the money,” but it was eroding my soul. I needed to hike my own hike and follow own my moral compass instead of killing myself to make the quarterly revenue goal or kissing ass so I’d get a raise. I just up and quit.
Fast forward six years. I’m a full-time outdoor writer and haven’t had to waste time on a single conference call or in a meeting since I left corporate life in 2010. I work at home so I don’t have a commute except when I drive to the mountains to hike and fish for a few days each week. I still work hard at what I do, but my job isn’t killing me. If anything, the lack of stress has added 10 or more years to my life and helped me become a happier and kinder person.
When I look around at my friends, most of them are stuck with jobs they hate. While a monthly paycheck and benefits are convenient, they don’t provide much security anymore. Working for yourself provides a lot more security actually, since no one is going to lay you off. You can’t say that for any job where someone else is running the show besides you.
The thing I like the most about hiking and backpacking is that it teaches you self-reliance. Sooner or later you’ll encounter a situation where you have to take complete responsibility for yourself to get out of a jam. If it doesn’t kill you, that is. While this can have a transformative effect on your hiking prep, its biggest impact is in other area areas of your life.
There is a reason why so many hikers and backpackers, thru-hikers and mountaineers, climbers and backcountry skiers, shy away from a corporate existence and make their own way in life. They’ve learned how to be self-reliant and taken their own career paths outside the norm.
Imagine what it would be like if you could wake up with a smile on your face every morning and not have to worry about what your commute will be like, or what it would be like to spend time with your kids during the day instead of shipping them off to an after-school program. Controlling your own financial destiny gives you the freedom to spend time on the things you want to do, rather than forcing you to generate more income so you can outsource your life and family demands to others.
If you hate your job or the rat race is killing you, I’d encourage you to think outside the box and get out of the box. Start your own business and make your own destiny, even if it’s just a side business to start. You’d be surprised at how far you can go, once you give yourself a chance.
While I don’t know what the future holds for my family and myself, I do know that we’ll manage to make it work on our own terms. Self reliance.
The day I quit working for someone else is the day I became myself.