Guest Post by Jack Lentz (World traveler and intramural basketball legend)
– Follow Jack’s travels at The Road Lentz Traveled
After a long day of meetings with one of our major clients, my boss and I were relieved to be back in the rental car heading towards the airport. We engaged in small talk for a few minutes, recounting the meeting and planning next steps for the project, but my mind was elsewhere. I knew this was the perfect time to break the news, I just hoped my boss wouldn’t veer off the road. “Bill – I’m taking my talents south of the border…” (Okay, maybe I’m paraphrasing and that would have been how I imagined breaking the news in a parallel universe). It went more like this: “Bill – after a great deal of thought and consideration, I’ve decided to leave the firm and explore other opportunities.” Before I could explain my plan in further detail, he jumped in and asked “When?!?!” I informed him that my last day wouldn’t be for another three weeks or so. Despite thinking I was crazy for ditching a stable, well-paying job for the uncertainties of solo travel in Mexico and Central America, he supported my decision and helped to ease the transition process. Many people thought I was brave to quit my corporate gig to travel alone in Latin America. I never saw it that way. Instead, I knew I couldn’t tolerate the alternative: staying in a job that brought me little satisfaction.
A few months ago, I was visiting the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and went on a day trip to several cenotes with a few other travelers. The first few cenotes were family-friendly and made for leisurely swimming experiences. However, we worked our way up to “extreme cenotes”, which were more precarious and often required jumping from high heights into the water (at times with limited visibility). Before arriving at the first extreme cenote, our guide told us: “Don’t think, just jump.” The jump should be measured and considered for safety. But overthinking the jump and its potential consequences leads to psychological paralysis (I’d like to reiterate: please think before you jump to prevent making a mistake that leads to physical paralysis. I don’t want to blur the clear distinction between thinking and overthinking). One of the girls made her way to the jumping point, looked down, let doubt flood her mind, and she had already lost. She stood there for twenty minutes and didn’t want to face defeat, but ended up retreating back up the steps. I think we can all relate to how this girl felt, whether facing a literal or figurative jump. She chose not to take the leap at that cenote, but she conquered her fears and took the plunge into the cold water at the final, most extreme cenote.
If you feel similarly about your job and are not restricted by financial and/or relational responsibilities, I encourage you to consider making a change. The change doesn’t have to be leaving the comforts of your community to travel independently for an extended duration. Maybe it’s making a smaller change, like quitting a job you’ve always hated to pursue something that has always interested you. Sometimes change saves you from slipping into complacency that stunts personal, and even professional, growth.If you want to travel, change careers, take time to slow down in this rat race, I encourage you to do so. Confront whatever is holding you back and make a decision that excites and energizes you. Don’t overthink, just jump. Take a leap of faith!