20 days ago I abandoned my career as an Engineer in search of something else, something unknown. I would like to say that my world has been turned upside down, but it’s more true to say that it was already upside down, and that it has now turned the right way up. For the first time in my life I feel truly free.
There are two simple statements that have been resonating with me of late. Two simple statements that can be heard loud and clear by anyone, but take great attention and contemplation to fully understand.
The first is “Just Do It“. Here and now. This really is it. Right now. Next year we will all be older. Soon we will be dead. There are many things I want to do in my life. My biggest hurdle has not been an inability to achieve my goals, but rather an ignorance of my options and a fear of change. What will I do without my high Income? Will I be able to get another Job? Where will I live? These questions only served to keep me still. To keep me stuck in fear of change and perpetually failing to really live the life I have. The future is uncertain. But regardless, it is always possible that I might fail at what I don’t want to do anyway, so why not at least try and do something I really want to do? Why not pick that thing I want to do, and Just Do It?
The second is “Live and Let Live“. I spent too many years in hate. There are many people in this world, and many different ways of life. Yes, there is one and only one truth about life, the Universe and all that is and will ever be, but who am I to think that I am right in what I ‘know’. I may see many beliefs as silly or unwarranted, but who am I to tell anyone what they should or should not believe. We should express ourselves and our thoughts, and we should listen to others, it is the best way to grow in self. But we must learn to just love each other regardless of what we each choose to believe, be it out of introspective conviction, faith, science, ignorance, whatever. I have found great peace in the past weeks by learning to just accept anyone for who they are, regardless of whether they are willing to accept me or not.
These last few weeks have seen me completely lose who I thought I was. I now know, with absolute certainty, that money and happiness have absolutely nothing to do with each other. All of the best memories I have made over the past year have been in the last few weeks.
My First Game of Jenga
A Road Trip Break
Playing Jenga for the first time. Having a secret party under a bridge. Watching the clouds from a mountain top. Road trips. My friends bucks night at the pub. But most of all, what has brought me the most peace and happiness is people. I have met many new and amazing people.
Craigs Bucks Night
Secret Party @ Undisclosed Location
I don’t know where I will be in 4 months. But wherever it is, it will be somewhere I want to be. Otherwise I wont stay.
30 days now until I finish my engineering career. Less than a month. Wow. It has been an incredibly difficult year, but the next episode is only just around the corner.
My work ethic is pathetic (perhaps my fate is in poetry) at the moment. It’s not something I’m proud of. I feel terrible about my present performance. I need to be doing so much more so that I don’t leave problems behind me for someone else to deal with.
Looking at what needs to be done, it seems perfectly fair and reasonable. Without doubt it could all be achieved ahead of time. But I am not a robot. I am Matt. A big kid. When all passion is lost, all enthusiasm has been drained by a desk, the drive to achieve has been eliminated by the realization that hard work and crap work as an employee result in almost identical personal outcomes. The ability to sit and work crashes and burns.
It’s in times like these that I must hold on to the future. My time will come. It is only just around the corner. It is in one month now that rather than hold on to the future I will be holding myself in the present. The first sight of snow for the season. My first ride up a chair lift. The first run down a slope. Sunrise from a mountain top. ‘Hopefully’ a lady under my arm. Life on Falls Creek. My endless ‘now’ will be my moment to hold on to.
One more month. I need to subdue my overwhelming urge to scream, yell, smash and destroy shit for only one more month. My strength is in understanding that no matter the events of the next 30 days, soon I will be on the snow. The stresses of this life will come to pass. Soon.
Over three weeks ago I watched this TED talk which inspired me to think harder about some of the things in my life that I am grateful for. Three weeks ago when I first posted on the topic of gratefulness I found it quite difficult to come up with three things. Times have been dark lately. This time however it seems much easier. Things are looking up, more so every day, and as such I get to pick three things that stand out among a much longer list of things I am grateful for. So here it goes again.
Three (more) Things I Am Grateful For
1. The Snow
In just over a month now I make my way up to Falls Creek, where I get to stay for the entire Snow Season! This, coming from an 8:30 – 5:00 desk job nearly 2 hours travel from home is such an enormous and welcome change. The reality of the situation has not hit home, and likely wont until I get there. I get to spend every day outside on the snow and among people. Even if I am to work full time hours, I gain a minimum of 4 hours to myself everyday to have fun, be social and work on myself. I can’t wait.
Had I not failed, and fallen as far behind as I have, I may never had made the decision to escape the professional trap and start my life journey. Now, although I don’t know what comes after Falls Creek, I am determined to do everything in my power to really live my life. Because we only have one. Ask yourself, is your life boring? Or is it an adventure? I am also grateful for the debt I found myself in, which is now nearly gone. Having so much debt has really hammered home the value of money. Fact is the significant majority of mine has been spent on things that have actually been harmful to myself. Now I can really begin working on becoming a wealthy man.
3. My Education
We really are exceptionally privileged in Australia. It can be hard to understand when this is the only way we ever experience life. I have received a top notch (though it never seems so at the time) education. Now I also have further education in the form of real world experience. Although I am now choosing to leave the profession I educated for, I do not regret my schooling in it at all. Conversely, I found that University really taught me how to think for myself, and ask the right questions. When faced with something I do not understand, I have all the tools available to me to investigate and learn about the subject. It is no longer a matter of what can I do, but what do I want to do. I have the resources at my disposal to do anything.
Thankfully this wasn’t so hard this time. Next time, I expect it to be easier again. Next time I will be on my snowboard. Almost every day.
I don’t really know what to think at the moment. I’m happy. I’m excited. I have taken control of my life back and am on my way to somewhere I want to be. Though wherever that ultimately is I will only know on arrival.
I just had the call from Falls Creek (Snow in Australia), and in less then 2 months now, I can confirm, I will be on my way up to work for the whole snow season. This moment feels truly liberating. I have escaped the corporate world, likely never to return (as an employee at least), and have started my next phase. The phase were I really get to live my life.
I am no longer worried about my immediate future. I just need to continue existing as an engineer for another 50 days.
So here I find myself, back at work and back behind my desk. Everyday, myself and my colleagues must sit, in the same environment and undertake similar work as every other day. One must however consider what the ultimate goal is? What is it that we are trying to achieve? Do we spend our time studying and researching so that we can have our hours and place of work dictated to us by a superior that sees more benefit from our input than we do?
This to me seems silly. It is then perceived to be the norm to specialise and spend a huge amount of time getting only partially better at what we currently do so that once again we can earn our employers more money and take only our small cut.
Why do we acquire such advanced skills and then so quickly proceed to use them for someone else’s benefit? I think the answer is ‘because it is easy’. But ultimately we spend our entire lives doing it.
When I entered the professional work force I was lucky enough to work along side an individual that I rightfully consider a professional who offered me great opportunities, however was constantly disappointed by the performance of so many other so called senior engineers and professionals that we worked with every day. I would constantly find myself so confused as to how professionals with so much experience could be so inefficient and unproductive, a lot of the time simply being ignorant of the subject they are the ‘professional’ in. But now I understand.
It is not surprising now that people who may have been brilliant in their early career loose their drive and become complacent. We are constantly told what to do, how to do it, when to do it by and to work harder, when we don’t see any reward for doing so. So why do it? I have now also started to become complacent. The drive and skill I had is deteriorating and hence the reason I have resigned.
I feel that our best assets are ourselves and the best way to prepare ourselves for the future is to diversify rather than specialise. Work to learn, don’t work for money. Then use the skills you acquire to provide for yourself. Relying on an employer and a super fund has proven decade after decade only to keep people working almost their entire life only to be thrust out poor and frail. Is this really your plan?
I’m certainly taking a different approach. Live now. Learn now. Start thinking about another way now, because there is no shortage of options.