As we’ve entered our sixth month of living on the sea, I look back in astonishment when I realize that it’s been three years since I quit the “rat-race” and one year since we formally decided to sell-up and sail away.
Looking back three years ago – Sleepless nights, anxiety, bad health
Three years ago, I was having sleepless nights and massive anxiety over my decision to leave the company I spent 8 years to build. I knew I had to do something…My health was declining, my life was full of frustration and I simply couldn’t carry on living the life I was living. I couldn’t breathe anymore.
Making the decision to drop out of the rat race wasn’t easy for me
My whole life was consumed by stress, making money, spending money and living in the fast lane. I worked hard and I partied hard… How could I go from working 80 hours a week, constantly pushing for results and fighting to become bigger and better to someone with no company, no known future and no identity. How could I go from being someone to being no one with no idea or vision for what was to come?
Looking back to this time last year – frustration was exchanged with nervous excitement
I had spent enough time away from my company to rise from the ashes.
After I left the rat race, I spent a couple years soul searching, doing consultancy…writing a book (about How Life Really Works), I was part of a lovely business group full of MD’s (better to hear their issues than have them as my own!) and I started a small company with a friend to give me something to fill the void.
Looking back, I suppose I needed space – those two years – to come off my corporate lifestyle high. I needed to deprogram myself from the rat race – from the budgets, forecasts, HR issues, legal matters – the early starts and late finishes, and on and on. I needed to lose my ego – if that makes sense?
In contrast to my old life, it was so difficult to wake up every morning not knowing what the plan was
For almost two years I felt as if I was a feather blowing in the wind. During the transition it’s as if I was just spinning my wheels, but now I can see that I had to allow myself to break down so that I could build up a new ‘me.’ And little did I know that that new ‘me’ was going to try and attain a salty sea dog status!
I’d like to say that the decision to sell up and sail away was made over a glass of wine while having dinner with hubby, but it was born out of frustration. The new ‘me’ that I created didn’t fit into the 6-bedroom house, fancy cars and designer clothes ‘me’.
I’m not sure if I can put into words how things happened. Let me try…I knew that I had to change my life so I set out, in shotgun fashion, to start over again. While going through the process I felt alone, lost, scared and afraid that I threw out everything that meant anything.
Essentially, I set out to trade one life in for a totally different one
I mentioned that I did some soul searching…For the first time in my life I started to take time out for me. I started to listen to my body and watch my thoughts. I started to really contemplate what I liked, what I didn’t like and on and on.
For me, the issue of being ‘successful’ wasn’t on the agenda anymore. I proved that I could make money – financial success. After contemplation, I realized that the way I chose to make money wasn’t in line with the type of person I am.
Heck – I owned a currency exchange company! Ask me if I knew the names of currencies in other countries or the exchange rates. I usually didn’t even know what the USD to GBP rate is (I’m American and lived in the UK). I was successful because I studied how to start and grow a company – the type of company didn’t really matter. I was successful because I never gave up…
I kept pressing forward and that ‘pressing’ eventually wore me out!
That being said, taking time to contemplate my past allowed me to realize where I went right and where I went wrong. Over the course of a two years I really started to understand what made me feel fulfilled and what didn’t. I realized that I didn’t need a 6-bedroom house nor did I want to run a multi-million-pound company. I recognized that buying the designer clothes was a complete an utter waste of time.
I started to pay more attention to my love of sailing…and everything that came with the lifestyle attached to sailing. Having the ability to move my home when I wanted created a spark in my heart. Being able to sail at night under the moonlight and feel the freedom of great open expanses brought a smile to my face. Knowing that I was truly one with nature and surrounded by nature felt amazing. And living in gym shorts, no bra and a holey sweatshirt also felt ‘right’.
So…this time last year Simon and I played the ‘what if’ game
What if we sell everything and sail around on a boat for 3 – 5 years? What if don’t wait until we win the lottery to live our dream? What if we trade this lifestyle on land in for one on the sea?
Last year during this exact week Simon was at the Southampton boat show – he paid a visit to the previously owned Oyster sailboat section. It’s there that he looked at a 49’ and decided it wasn’t right. Like most boats under 50’, Simon, with the height of 6’4” couldn’t stand up straight in the saloon.
Little did we know that by the end of 2013 (less than three months later), we’d be the owners of a lovely 56’ Oyster and would have sold our house, our car and possessions!
Saying that we were on a roller coaster ride is an understatement!
So…it’s now 3 years after I left my company, 1 year after deciding to sell up and sail away and 6 months since we left land to live full time on our boat, Britican. How does it feel?
It feels absolutely amazingly incredible to be living on the sea
I have no regrets. I freaking love my life. I love the new ‘me’ and I love the direction I’m going in – whatever it is!
I even like the fact that I don’t know what direction I’m going in – not knowing actually feels exciting.
No – I don’t have any idea as to where, exactly, that I’m heading. I don’t where I’ll be in 2 days time. I have no ideal about how my life will unfold, but that’s okay.
I live on a boat and I’m letting life show me the way. I’m trusting in life.
Instead of controlling everything and doing the things I ‘should’ be doing, I’m truly living my life one day at a time. I have no plans, no forecasts, no budgets…Just me, my family and the open sea.
I created enough space in my life to release my need for a big home, a flash car and expensive clothes. I now have one mode of transport that I take with me wherever I go. I no longer need a car (and car payments, insurance, etc.) and it’s one less thing to clutter my head.
And what do others think of this new ‘me’ that I’ve created?
Many readers, like Grainee below, ask me if it feels like I’m on permanent holiday or if it has become normal:
Just thinking about you as I start my new job tomorrow (primary school teaching) after a long summer off, and it made me think what it must be like to be on what seems to be an endless holiday. I wonder if you think of your trip as an endless holiday too, or does routine become as much a part of your life as it does for everyone?
Grainne – that’s such a great question! When we’re walking around a new location I do often think I’m on holiday. When we’re sailing, I actually feel as if it’s like I was taking my daily walk – that’s normal now.
Some days I feel as if I’m flowing with life and everything is perfect. Other days, I’m tired or cranky and I struggle to last the day. Overall, however, I feel so free and open to accept new things into my life.
When I was in the corporate world, my future was just like my past – very little changed. Nothing changed because I was so tightly wound into a prescript life. Now that I’m on the open seas I believe that ‘anything can happen.’ Tomorrow I might meet a new best friend or have a meal that is ‘out of this world.’ I might have an incredibly memorable time with my daughter or perhaps write an article that strikes a cord with someone who then feels compelled to get in touch.
My life is so fluid now and I love it – I’m not a square peg trying to force myself into a round hole
It’s not more of the same ole’ same ole’. Every day I wake up and think, ‘wow – I wonder what surprises are in store for me today?’
So, Grainne, to answer you question in some cases I do feel like I’m on an endless holiday yet in other ways I feel like I’m just living life with a different mentality/attitude. I suppose I could have had this approach to my corporate life but I was so ‘stuck’ that I needed something very different to pry me out of my stuck-ness…if that makes sense.
Another reader of website, or should I say my ‘Greek Angel’ wrote the following:
“Kim,…I now realize it is difficult for me to fully understand that Britican is your HOME now and not a means of transportation…I bet many of your readers have the same problem – we fail to really comprehend your family’s new Modus Vivendi, so far different than the established model. Michalis”
Michalis is a beautiful soul. He follows us along on our ‘Locator’ and when we get to a new destination he tells me the best places to go and what to look out for. Being in Greece, I feel as if I have the Gods on my side. Everywhere I go, there’s someone to direct my family and me – especially Michalis. Everywhere we go there are new friends, new experiences and memories to be made.
This must be what it’s like to live a charmed life!
In response to Michalis, yes I think it is hard for others to comprehend our new life – heck, I have a difficult time writing about it. We still have good and bad days but overall I feel as if we’re doing the right thing. We’re living a lifestyle that feels right and we’re truly making the most of our time on this wonderful Earth. And that is the key point. For many of us, we have the ability to go out and do what our heart craves…but things get in the way – usually fear, money or security (or all three).
We’ve been able to push the worries to one side and say, ‘screw it, we’re going to go out and find a fulfilling life! We’re going to do what makes our heart sing.’
I suppose only time will tell if we’ve made a wrong decision.
Perhaps I’ll end up 85 and starving or maybe 60 and starving?
But look at all the people that work all their lives, fail to find fulfillment and still end up old, miserable and starving. Thankfully, my brother is doing very well…If things take a turn for the worse, we can live with him…and that definitely won’t be a hardship (I love my brother!).
So – what am I saying?
My old life was very exciting. I made lots of money and grew a big company. Over time I realized that I was growing a company for the sake of making money. Once I made the money I realized that I didn’t really enjoy the business I was in. I then decided to change ‘me’ to another ‘me’ and the new ‘me’ needed to figure out what I really liked to do. Rather than follow what society lays out, I finally listened to my own drum and since doing so I’ve been one fulfilled bunny.
I wonder if the time will ever come when I have to change the salty sea dog ‘me’ to something else? Perhaps the next ‘me’ will be an astronaut. Heck – anything can happen!
Okay – enough said!