For the past few weeks of my 6-month adventure overseas, I’ve been trying to force out the words to describe my experience. It’s not until I take my seat and plug in my headphones on the long flight home that something half decent starts to come to me.
My story is nothing compared to anything you’ll read in even the dodgiest travel blog. I didn’t walk on coals in a remote Asian island, nor did I hitchhike through South America without a word of Spanish. Instead, I’m writing about what it’s like for a young business owner to pull back from the 60-70 hour a week addiction to his work.
Speaking with other 20-something’s that run their own business, it seems I’m hardly the only one working so hard on a business that was for ‘lifestyle reasons’. Working your own hours, not having to answer to a boss each day and learning the in’s and out’s of running a business sounds incredible on paper.
Indeed it is. It’s incredibly rewarding to start your own business, to see it produce good work and to watch it grow in reputation. Hell, I loved Engage Marketing and still do.
At what cost does it come to you though? I found myself talking with friends but not really listening. When I’d make time for a game of golf, I’d be worried about how many emails I was missing, or what was in the voicemails left on my phone. That wasn’t the freedom that I’d been searching for.
So, a friend convinced me to come over to Canada with him and do a ski-season in Whistler. Part of the appeal was the business we were to start and ultimately fail at (but that’s another blog post).
Over the six months I learnt a lot that will shape how I live my life in the future. Here are some of the things that I took away:
The single biggest change was going from comfortable Melbourne, hanging out with the same groups of people day in, day out, to a completely new environment where you’re meeting new people every day.
The people you meet early on become your family and I was lucky enough to spend the majority of the 6 months with some damn good people. Groups form and people come and go, but there’s nothing better than experiencing new things with new people.
Do what you love
EVERYONE is at Whistler because they love the snow. The wages are just way too low to justify any other reason for being there. Some party hard, others forgo the drugs or alcohol and concentrate purely on skiing and snowboarding but it’s the chance to get that one perfect run down the mountain that everyone’s there for.
When you get so many people living their dreams and playing with their passion all day, you get one hell of a happy place. No-one’s down about their day. No-one fights when you go out. It’s human beings at their most happy and free.
It’s just unbelievable waking up and being able to do what you want. A typical day might be waking up, watching Sports Centre and then heading up the mountain. Soon enough, you’d run into half a dozen friends out there and snowboard/ski for a few hours until you’re exhausted or want to get back and work. You might chill at a cafe or bar for a drink afterwards.
There’s no alarms, negative mainstream media or deadlines to make. You really have nothing to stress about as long as you have money to survive.
Taking a clean break from a hectic life
For me, my time in Canada reinforced the notion of keeping life fun and interesting, no matter what. Life is what you make it. I could have had 6 months working hard at home, or I could have gone to Canada and laughed 100x as much, met 30x more people and let my mind run free.
Odd’s are that I’ll end up getting back into working with my awesome marketing clients and designing blogs for some really cool people, but a bit of time off has left me a lot more refreshed and ready to go.
If anyone out there is thinking of doing something like I did, I can only say to go for it. Don’t think twice. Just do it. You won’t regret it!