I love a good “changing my lfestyle” story. Tammy and Chris have a great one when they packed up and headed out for a volunteering gig. The decision was easy because “they could always go back.” But that was two years ago and they’re still out there. Enjoying life to the fullest. Here’s Tammy to tell you just how that happened:
Just eighteen months ago I was a typical UK commuter. I got up at six every morning, started my epic 1.5-hour commute to work in London, usually didn’t have time to have a proper lunch break, finished work around 6 and then did my epic commute back home again. By the time I had dinner it was 8.30 and I only managed to stay awake for another couple of hours before falling asleep completely exhausted.
I did this day in and day out for seven years. I did it because I actually really loved my job. It was interesting, fulfilling, I had fantastic colleagues and a great boss. But because of the daily commute I was constantly grumpy, tired and didn’t have any spare time to do the nice things that other people seemed to be doing all the time. It was a very stressful life and I wasn’t really happy.
Fast forward1 ½ years and I am now home at 5:15 most nights and have all evening to catch up on hobbies, meet friends, or go out for dinner or drinks. I have a great job and I am genuinely happy and content with my life.
How did I make this transition and what did I change? I took a sabbatical from work, my hubby was lucky to be able to take voluntary redundancy and then we left the rat-race in London behind. We wanted to take a break, but didn’t just want to travel.
We wanted to do something meaningful that could also enhance our careers, so we decided on volunteering abroad. We found a placement in Cambodia, packed up all of our belongings into storage, rented out our house, and bought a one-way ticket to Asia.
Of course I did have some fears about leaving my job, my house, and my friends and family. A lot of people thought we were crazy to give everything up we had established over seven years. Why would anyone leave a job they like and a lovely house behind?
At one stage I doubted our decision too, but there was also a surprising number of people who encouraged us. Many said that we were still young enough to do such a thing and that we were doing what most people only dream about. I also came across more and more blogs of people who were doing similar things and all of the sudden it didn’t seem all that complicated anymore. After all, our house will still be there when we come back, so will our family and friends, and I also have a job to go back to.
Initially we were only planning on staying in Cambodia for 6 months, but then we got offered paid jobs in the international development sector so decided to hang on for a bit longer. We loved our new-found freedom and lifestyle so much that we extended our stay again and again and again.
We have been living in Cambodia for almost two years now and have completely and utterly fallen in love with the country. We love the smiley, friendly people, the gorgeous children who are always eager to practice their English with us, and we love the country’s hidden gems off the beaten track. One of the best things about our move here is that we have a life again – a life away from delayed trains or packed tubes, but a life with the perfect synergy of working and traveling.
Looking back, our stint to Cambodia really taught me to make more of my life. Life is not all about just a career, a nice house or lots of pointless belongings. I don’t need two TVs, a car and an endless supply of kitchen gadgets. Everybody has got a dream and in my opinion everybody should follow theirs. Of course there will always be logical reasons why you shouldn’t follow your crazy dream, but I came to a point in life where, for once, I wanted to make a decision based on my heart and not my head. And I haven’t looked back since.
Tammy from Tammy & Chris on the Move blogs about her voluntary work, travels and misadventures across the globe. Follow her journey on her blog Tammy & Chris on the Move, on Twitter or on Facebook.