My New Life

Question:  Why do we wait until we are retired to start living a more fulfilling life?

It was one of the more difficult decisions I had to make, to leave a good job in banking that paid well to pursue my passion to travel and live a balanced, more active and healthier lifestyle.

These thoughts started creeping into my head about 5 years ago after having a conversation with a dear friend from Mexico who asked, “why are Canadians and Americans so obsessed with this concept of retirement?”  He could not comprehend why so many people put the prime years of their lives on hold, often doing something they don’t really like, so they can stop working when they turn 65 and finally start to enjoy life.  He did not understand why we made this conscious choice to wait so long to live. 

My new life and new set of wheels…

What he had said made perfect sense.  We may not live until we are 65 or be healthy or mobile enough to do the things we want to do when we reach that age, yet, I was one of those people who was working 10+ hours a day, 5-days a week, to save enough money so that I could have an amazing retirement.   

While I liked my job and was thankful for the experiences and opportunities I had, I could not picture a career in banking for the next 20 years.  But, like many, I enjoyed a regular pay cheque, health benefits and paid vacations and it was difficult to give up that kind of security when things were, for the most part, comfortable.  So, I asked myself the question, “What’s next?”  Not knowing the answer frightened me so of course, I ignored it for the next few years. 

But, as time passed, my essential self started to voice her displeasure.  It became more difficult to get out of bed and go to work.  At work, I was tired, became grumpier each day and needed an afternoon coffee just to stay awake and get me through to the end of the day.  Still, I didn’t know what the next step was so just put my head down and kept grinding it out.   

A couple of years ago, while having brunch with a friend, we talked about how neither of us could see a future in banking.  We both wanted to start our own business and decided to become business partners in a new venture that would combine our passion for travel and living a healthy and active lifestyle. After many iterations from designing an athleisure clothing line to flipping properties, we finally settled on luxury wellness travel and founded Movement Travel.

The path ahead became clearer.  We started building the business while still working full time.  However, working 10+ hours a day while trying to start a new business was not going to be sustainable in the long term so I began to formulate my exit strategy.  This was not easy as there is never a good time to leave a job you have been doing for the last 17 years.

After several months of consideration, I decided on a date, but it was still months away so put it aside until a later time.  But as the date approached, the panic set in.  I had not resigned from a job in 17 years so was unsure of how to even do it.  When the date arrived, I pushed it back a week, and then another.  As there was technically no hard commitment date I kept delaying it.  I finally forced my hand by signing up for a 6-week intensive yoga teacher training course and was accepted into the program a week later.  I now had to give notice but asked myself, “why would I give up a perfectly good job for the unknown?”

The day to give my notice finally arrived.  The morning passed, and I could not do it.  I met my business partner for lunch and remember telling her that I was going to resign after lunch.  I felt like if I said it out loud to another person that I would have to do it.  After lunch, my heart was racing and I was shaking but returned to the office and walked up to my boss. 

Just over 3 months later, I have moved back home to Vancouver, moved in with my boyfriend who I had been doing long distance with for 5 years, finished my yoga teacher training and have no more bi-monthly pay cheques.  I am enjoying my new life and the panic has subsided.  I still work hard but am doing something that gives me a sense of fulfillment.  I sleep 7.5 hours each night, do a workout in the morning before I start work, rarely feel tired or exhausted, am calmer and more creative.  I appreciate my new experiences and for the first time in a long while, I feel excited.

I went to an event recently where a guest speaker was giving advice to a woman who was scared to quit her job to start her own business.  What she said pretty much sums it up “If you quit your job and it does not work out then you look for a new job when you need money.  You may be back where you started but at least you tried and are richer because of the experience.  At the end of the day, you are no worse off so why not give it a try?”

Melanie Yip
Co-Founder, Movement Travel