Okay, so, yeah, 2016 has come to an end and, for many, it does so with good riddance. I mean, hell, it’s been a rough year, right? We lost an absolute butt load of talented people, hundreds of thousands are dead or displaced thanks to a conflict many of us don’t understand, and the world was forced to turn a confused, frightened and even angry eye to the U.S. following an ugly and divisive election.
But, hey, let’s remember, every one of us has his or her own 2016 story to tell. For me—oh, man—it’s a story of big decisions leading to bigger—and ongoing—changes.
In April of 2016, my employer at the time hired an efficiency and leadership expert to give each employee advice on how to be happier and more efficient at work, based on the results of questionnaires and a one-on-one chat. When my turn came around, she asked me a few questions, then said, “Look, in all my years doing this, I’ve never said these words, but, honestly, I think you should quit.”
My friends knew it. My family knew it. I knew it. But here was this complete stranger, an expert on the subject, telling me that, to be happier and better at this job—a comfortable corporate gig I’d had for four years—I should leave it. Fact is, I’d been thinking about it for some time. The job had changed me. I’d become an angry guy, a guy who no longer took any joy in his hobbies and interests, a bored and boring guy, a guy I did not recognize and did not like. It was time to move on. So, in May, I gave two months’ notice.
This efficiency expert didn’t just tell me to quit, though, she also said that I should take a few months off, not go straight to another job, since, as she put it, my view of work had become “toxic”. So, I left without a real plan, without another job in the wings, and traveled for two months instead, surfing in Portugal, hiking and swimming in Spain, and canyoning and kayaking in France.
Those travels taught me a lot about myself. For one, they taught me that I am far more nomadic than I ever could have guessed. When those two months in Europe came to an end, I wasn’t ready to head home. I wanted to keep going. I wasn’t pleased to be back in Montreal, wasn’t happy to be back in my apartment or my own bed. I just really wanted to keep going.
Once back in Montreal, I helped organize and run a convention. Oh, man. As far as curveballs go . . . Honestly, I’m grinning as I write this, chuckling even, but, well, as one of the other organizers put it: the thing was a catastrophe. Look, I didn’t expect the convention to make any money, these things never do the first few years, but what was meant to be a fun investment of a few hundred dollars turned into a loss of a few thousand. So . . . yeah.
Like I said: I’m laughing about it now (mostly, haha), and seriously, given that I have no kids, no mortgage, no car payments and no serious debt (not even a girlfriend or wife to look at me with a mix of pity and exasperation in her eyes), well, I could take that kinda loss without lasting damage. But it did mean that the money I’d planned to live off of while looking for a real job was essentially wiped out in a single weekend, so I had to rethink things. And this just weeks after returning from a fairly long and rather costly trip.
Luckily, before I’d left for Europe, I’d begun doing some freelance writing, mainly content writing for travel sites, and, in November, I landed a fairly big contract that kept me afloat for the coming month and a half. But, obviously, this wouldn’t last, and I knew I’d been lucky to find the gig at all . . .
Now, it just so happens that, on my birthday, while still abroad and pretty much on a whim, I’d registered for TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. I completed it in November. I’d registered as a backup and little more, but now, with my funds nearly gone and very little money coming in, it was becoming more of a reality, plan C moving up to B and . . . eventually…
So, where’s this headed, right? Well, the more I thought about it, the more it felt right. I imagined myself finding a great, meaningful job here in Montreal—really pictured it, as though it had happened—and felt . . . disappointment. Disappointment that I wouldn’t have to leave the city, wouldn’t have to go on a scary but exciting new adventure… And when I imagined finding work teaching abroad… Well, the more I thought about it, the more it felt right.
Look, Montreal is a great city, but, the truth is, I am nomadic. Looking back, I figure I’m good staying at one job or in one city for about three years. I’ve been in Montreal five years now and, to be honest, I’ve felt restless for the last two, easy. I need more adventure in my life. I need more exploration and discovery in my life. I need more fear in my life.
It’s time to move on.
These days, I spend much of my time researching countries and cities around the world, while keeping an eye on teaching job postings in those countries and cities. My Christmas wish list this year consisted of travel guides for South America and Southeast Asia (okay, and booze . . . and basic groceries, but that doesn’t fit with the theme here).
It’s time to move on. And 2016 is the year I realized that.
I honestly have no idea what 2017 will bring, don’t even know where I’ll be living or what I’ll be doing, but that’s something else 2016 taught me: I like it that way.