By Angela M. Petitt
“Are you crazy?”
“How can you afford that?”
“What do you mean you want to quit?”
“We are in a recession!!”
“Did you win the lottery?”
“That is a bold move!!”
“Do you really have the guts and finances to do that?”
“Can you live without a paycheck? Do you really want to?”
Those were the reactions I got when I mentioned my plans to quit my job during the throes of the recession to my family and friends. Although they meant well, I just felt that there was more to life than a winning corporate existence. Moreover, life is just too short to not do what you want to do. So, my response to them was “If not now, when?” I knew that even with a successful career in information technology and an MBA, I wanted more…I wanted freedom!
Hello…My name is Angela Petitt and I am a 44 year old native Houstonian. During the recession in August 2009, I took a bold step of faith – I quit my corporate IT job to travel the world. In spite of the concerns and economic climate, I knew I had to make a bold move in order to make change to see my dreams come true. Yes, I know that this is something that Europeans or young adult backpackers do…not an established over 40 professional with a winning corporate resume. But in the words of author Jim Rohn, “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.”
Making the decision to opt-out of corporate America for a while was the first step in my journey. The notion of quitting was several years in the making, being fueled more and more every time I went on vacation. When I came to the realization that I really wanted to see the world and was ready to move beyond the cubicle, I knew it was time to make a change.
As a single professional, I wanted my sabbatical to be different. I did not want to sell anything to make it happen. So in my planning, I made sure I had enough to cover my mortgage, car, expenses for my teenage nephew, and other responsibilities. I wanted my sabbatical to be a true rest from the ordinary and an escape to the extraordinary. For me, that meant living life to the fullest and making time to do the things that I enjoy. Actually, when I made the final decision to quit and put in my resignation, I really had no clue as to what was next. But, a few days after my last day at work, I was on a plane going to Italy! And, I haven’t looked back! It seemed like once the decision was made, opportunities opened up!
Initially, my sabbatical was only going to be 6 months. Then, that turned into 10 months and now it has been 2 1/2 years and counting. I have flown a Cessna airplane, learned (ok, learning) to play golf, attempted horseback riding – twice, joined day time bible studies, sharpened my photography skills, and have volunteered in my community. I even returned to school and am pursuing my Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.
Beyond my wildest dreams, I never imagined that I would embark on a different trip almost every month!! It has been an amazing sabbatical!! My travels have led me to awe inspiring destinations such as China, Siberia, Egypt, Israel, Colombia, Panama, Honduras and many other exciting places. I have zip lined in Cabo, narrowly escaped the earthquake in Japan, went cave diving in Punta Cana, played with monkeys in Roatan, glared into the mouth of a steamy volcano in Nicaragua, stared in amazement at the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, got caught in a downpour atop the Acropolis in Athens – twice, received a huge surprise bouquet of flowers from an admirer in Italy, and had many other awe inspiring experiences. I visited the 30th country of my sabbatical on a Mediterranean cruise visiting Croatia for the first time. By the way, Croatia is absolutely beautiful!!
In addition to my travel adventures, I was presented with the 2009 WHS Wall of Honor Service and Leadership award by my alma mater, recently featured in ESSENCE magazine as a “Power Player!”, and was invited as aguest speaker for the national Meet Plan Go! Career BreakTravel conference that inspires others in their quest for sabbaticals and extended travel.
So yes, I learned to live without a paycheck and budget accordingly. Recently, I read that uncertainty isn’t a cost but a catalyst for creating a better future. I can attest to the truth of that as it captures the heart of my journey. Granted, it has indeed been scary at times and several unexpected things happened. But, it has been worth taking a chance on me rather than continuing on in the ordinary daily grind. I have no regrets.
Since starting my sabbatical journey, I have grown in courage, faith, confidence, and wisdom. More importantly, I have come to understand my God given uniqueness and that life is truly precious and too short to waste. Furthermore, my time away has instilled in me the renewed desire not to merely survive, but to authentically thrive!
With hopes of inspiring other people to be bold and go for their dreams, I have been blogging (and speaking) about my experiences (good, bad, and otherwise) at http://www. sabbaticalscapes.com/. One thing for sure – “with God ALL things are possible!” Where will your dreams take you?
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Now that is BOLD living!
Learn more about Angela’s Journey in the following video!