Often, when people experience a quarter-life crisis, they get the urge to quit their job and travel. Most say they want to travel to get away, explore the world, learn more about themselves, and reset before they come back and fully get into the work world.
A question I ask these folks is “Where are you running to?”. A while back, I was dissatisfied with my old job and was beginning the process of looking for a new one. My old supervisor told me, “Don’t just run away from something, be sure you are running towards something.” At the time, I didn’t take his advice to heart, and immediately took the first job that gave me an out. I didn’t fully appreciate the wisdom of those words, but since then I’ve really thought about what he was trying to tell me and have applied that advice in my life.
We may have that one friend who quits their job to “learn more about themselves,” goes on an adventure, comes back to find a new job, and then repeats the cycle a couple years later. If we don’t know someone who has actually done this, we know of people who contemplate doing this. That person might actually be us.
I pass this along to those of you out there who are ready to quit your job to “start fresh”. I am not trying to discourage you from quitting your job or traveling since I am a firm believer of self-determination (so just do you!), but I do think it’s important that you do your best to learn, reflect, and plan so that when it comes time, you are running towards a new adventure and not only away from where you were.
Here are a few things that may help you maximize your learning and growth while you are taking a hiatus from work or while you are traveling:
- Journal – Let’s be real, our brains are not great at retaining information. As you go about your journey, write down your observations, thoughts, and lessons. This will help when you reflect later on in your process. When people have the thought of journaling in mind, it causes them to be more observant and mindful in their experiences.
- Volunteer – Try different things out. This is a time to experience yourself in new spaces and with new people. For most of us, purpose is a great source of motivation. Volunteering, whatever the cause might be, may help reground you in a purpose you have lost while focusing on your career.
- New Experiences – Take a class, try DIY videos, learn new skills, etc. If you are feeling stuck, there is a chance you do not want to be doing what you are doing. A logical place to start is to think about what else you may want to try to do or learn. “Playing” or doing activities that we enjoy doing is another great source of motivation.
- Meet and talk to people – Some of the best teachers are random people that can speak towards your experience. If you are traveling to the same places as someone, chances are you share some similarities. Talking about your journey to strangers, or friends, is like a sneaky way to reflect out loud. Sharing your experiences pushes you to think about what you have been doing and why.
- Reflect – I’d argue this is the most important activity, taking the time to look back at your experiences in this time period and pulling lessons and takeaways can really focus you in on important takeaways that pertain to your values, your interests, and your goals. These reflections can be as simple as “I really like chocolates from this specific store because…” or as complex as “My job did not give me any sense of purpose. How can I get that feeling I got whenI volunteered at the shelter with the veterans?”
In summary – those of you out there ready to quit it all and try something new, travel, or find yourself: do it, but do it with purpose and intent so when you return you can continue to move towards something you want, instead of starting a cycle of always running away without a destination.
Want help developing a plan for your hiatus? Email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org