Finding my Life – Part 3 – Sometimes the Stars Align

The story of how I went from Aspiring to be Inspired in August of last year, searching for my life, to a complete career change. And, how sometimes the stars just align at the right time.

If you’d like to read these in sequence, start with – Finding my Life – Part 1 and Finding my Life – Part 2 – This is MY journey.

Where do you find a new perspective on life? For me, it was the Dominican Republic, but truly, it had nothing to do with the destination and everything to do with the journey. I could have been in South America, Asia, India … it wouldn’t have mattered. It was not the Dominican Republic that taught me lessons, it was the series of events and people I met. Had I gone to another destination, I would have met a different group of people and had different events, but I truly believe the outcome would have been the same. I believe that the right people would have come in to my life to help me make my way through my own journey.

While in the Dominican, my goal was to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. How did I want to run my business. Did I want to continue to run my business? Pretty big questions to be answered on so-called vacation.

After realizing that I was in charge of my life, that I could say yes or no to anything that came my way, I was able to move forward. It’s funny how people tell you this but you don’t believe them until one day the light just turns on and you think ‘how did I not see this before?’

For months I had been struggling with the idea that I might not want to run my own business anymore. It was a vicious circle and internal struggle. My business was successful, I was well-known and I was doing well for myself.

I wasn’t happy though.

I had already timidly mentioned to a couple of my friends and family members that I might not want to run my own business any more and of course was met with lots of ‘what do you want to do? how are you going to do that?’ Simply, I didn’t know the answers to any of these questions. I just knew that I wanted something different.

One afternoon while in the Dominican Republic (almost one year ago) I wrote an email to a travel agent who I had worked with before, asking for her thoughts, advice and input on the travel industry as a whole. At the end of the email, I mentioned that I knew she was really busy and would she ever consider hiring an extra person, even for the administrative assistance, not necessarily for selling travel. For me, I just wanted to know if it was a waste of time to consider being a travel agent. After all, with all the online bookings, wasn’t it a dying profession? Come on, I know many of you are thinking that! I’ll write a good post on why that’s not true one of these days!

Her response surprised me. She told me that she was looking to expand and that she might be interested in bringing me on as an agent, we should discuss further when I got back to Canada.

Well, my little heart started racing. Wow! Here I was, offering to do something, anything to get out of the cycle I was in and suddenly, it was turning into a real possibility that I could change careers.

When I returned home in September (2012) we continued our conversations and I took the opportunity very seriously. I spent a lot of time weighing the benefits and downfalls of switching careers. This particular opportunity would have me still be my own boss, but working under an umbrella company. Was this a benefit or a downfall though? I spent MANY hours deliberating this. I would have to work hard to build my own clientele and I wouldn’t get paid for quite some time as it would be commission based, so therefore I would have to juggle running my photography business and my travel business until I was able to make a living from travel. But, not being 100% sure that I wanted to completely give up photography, that was a bit of a benefit.

So, I had pretty much made up my mind and was in the process of signing up for the travel training, but before I moved forward, I had one big task I had to follow through with and it scared me to death. I spent many days avoiding having a conversation that I thought was going to be incredibly difficult. I didn’t even know where to begin so I wasn’t beginning at all.

I had already made plans with the Adventure Travel Company for my second Peru Through the Lens trip. We had already worked on it and had the itinerary planned, the marketing done. We were really just waiting for my return to Canada to put a big push on selling it. I knew if I were to switch careers and become a travel agent for another company, I wouldn’t be able to run this photo tour with The Adventure Travel Company as it would be a conflict of interest.

My mind was made up that I wanted to change careers, but oh, how I dreaded contacting the manager at the Adventure Travel Company to tell her I was going to become part of the competition. My throat tightened and my heart pounded just thinking about it. So, I put it off another couple of days.

When I finally made the phone call and spoke to her, I explained the situation. I didn’t want to drop the photo tour, but I understood that it wouldn’t work if I took the other job. Once again, I was astounded by her response. She said, “Have you ever considered coming to work for us, here at the Adventure Travel Company?”

Actually, I had considered that option, but on their website it stated that they were looking for people with training on certain programs and travel industry experience. I had neither.

She explained that it still could be an option and suggested that I meet with her before making my final decision. So, I did.

We met for coffee and she explained all about the Adventure Travel Company and the opportunities they offered. In fact, they had an option for work from home, but be under their umbrella as well … exactly the same as the first company I was considering. Well, the benefits and commissions worked slightly different, but overall, the same concept.

Wow. Now I was really confused. I now had two options because both companies were both stating that they were interested in having me. How did this happen? I thought my mind was made up to go with the first company and then I landed back in the same spot with no idea what to do. Working for The Adventure Travel Company would mean I could sell more of the type of travel that I was interested in and I could continue my photo tour.

I thought about it for days … maybe even a week. And, I don’t just mean thought about it in passing … I wrote lists of positives and negatives of each company. I ran some scenarios of how much money I would make. I asked more questions and I cried.

And I cried.
And I cried.

I cried because I couldn’t figure out what was the right choice. I cried because I felt bad that the first company had taken so much time to talk to me and explain everything and welcome me with open arms, but then the second company did the same. I felt like no matter which I chose I was somehow betraying the other.

And then I stopped and decided that was a really silly reason or way to make a decision … based on who I thought I would offend less. Going back to the lesson I learned earlier … I could say yes or no to anything that came my way.

So, I changed my way of thinking. No more worrying about who thought what or who I’d be letting down. I wasn’t making this decision for anyone else. This decision, to change my career and my life was all about me. As it should be!

When I cleared my head and re-started my thinking process I realized that both jobs were wrong.

What? After all that, you say!

Yes. Both of the jobs that I had been encouraged to take were at home office jobs where I would be my own boss. I would work from home, build my own clientele, set my own hours. You’d all love that wouldn’t you? Well, think again … For the past 10 years I had already been running my own photo business from home, building my own clientele, setting my own hours (which often meant, simply too many!), I was lonely and isolated.

As much as I wanted to change careers, and believe me, my heart ached when I made this decision, NEITHER of those jobs were right for me.

I contacted the manager at the Adventure Travel Company again. I told her that I had decided that I really didn’t want to work from home, based on commission. Part of my reason for wanting to change careers was to switch to an office job, to have regular hours, to see people every day and to have someone else be responsible for the overall well-being of the company. Not to mention a regular pay cheque that I didn’t have to chase down (entrepreneurs out there, you know what I’m talking about!) I asked if there was any possibility of an office job, to which she didn’t have a clear answer for me at that time.

I put the travel job on hold for a couple of weeks, allowing myself time to reconsider just how badly I wanted to do it. Did I want to do it badly enough to start my own business again from scratch?

One day, I wrote a Facebook message to the travel agent that I worked with for Peru Through the Lens trip. Just a message to say ‘Hi. How are you?’. Moments later, she was telling me that she had just resigned from her job and she was leaving in a couple of weeks.

My response? True story….
‘Congrats on the new job. That’s awesome, very happy for you. Um, does that mean your job is up for grabs?’

Sometimes the stars just align.

Immediately, I was back in touch with the manager at the Adventure Travel Company to see if she would be interviewing to fill that position, and indeed, she said she would be.

A couple of weeks later, I had an interview (middle of October). It went well. I was excited. I knew that it felt right.

Several weeks later, a decision still hadn’t been made. I didn’t know what the hold up was, but I knew that I would soon have to start looking for other options if that was not going to be my career move.

I had come home at the beginning of September and started the process of trying to change careers. Here it was early November and I didn’t have a new path yet, but I was lacking inspiration and motivation to continue on my old path. Those two months felt like a year.

Another week or so passed and finally, I got the job offer. The one in office, not home based.

Holy! Now this whole thing was really real.

We talked about salary, benefits, the Peru Through the Lens photo tour. We discussed at length the differences of working in an office versus working from home and I was 95% ready for it. The other 5% was me shaking in my boots. This was a HUGE decision to make. Was I really ready for it? Could I really switch from being my own boss to working for someone else?

I guess it was time to find out!

I started my new job as an Adventure Travel Specialist at The Adventure Travel Company on November 19, 2012.

It took me nine months from the time I sat atop the Lost City and Found myself, through a break up of a two-year relationship, seven weeks traveling solo in the Dominican Republic and learning Spanish, learning to kick people off my energy bus and truly being on a bumpy journey to find my life, before a tangible change took place.

Here I am. A world away from the person I was at this exact time last year. Last year on July 23rd I was dancing in a barber shop with my friend Kelly and his nephew in the Dominican Republic. I was trying to have conversations with my two weeks worth of Spanish classes but most of the time I had no idea what was going on. It was good for lots of laughs though. And, the boys took good care of me, despite them being ‘typically Dominican men’. I visited the ‘real’ Dominican Republic, outside of the city, hung out on the streets where neighbours gathered, kids played street basketball, bachata was blaring from every little corner store and I was welcomed in to their homes with open arms.

Now, I’m proud to say that I have changed my life and my career and am happy about it. All that soul-searching from February 2012 in Peru through until now paid off.

And, instead of running away to the Dominican Republic for seven weeks to figure out my life, I’m living my life and doing my job while preparing for my first trip to Asia in just 23 short days.

Amazing how it takes so long and feels so slow in the moment, but looking back, it feels like I’ve come a million miles from where I was.

The journey continues though … life is a balancing act and some days I still feel like all of the plates I’m holding up are falling and breaking all around me. Some days I lose my balance and fall with them, but I know that if I continue to search for myself and take steps in the right direction, I will learn important lessons along the way and will find ways to have fewer plates breaking. (Finding my life – Part 4 – Plates in the air – coming soon-ish)

PS – I can’t believe it honestly took me a year to write this Part 3 blog post. I guess I just wasn’t ready until that one year mark hit. I guess it was just the right time. Funny how sometimes the stars align.

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