Many factors played a role in my decision to quit my career to travel.

It was a scary and tough choice to make, but necessary.

I wasn’t happy with the person I was becoming – more focused on others’ perception of me than my happiness. I watched myself become more interested in what I had, than who I was.

I was on the fast track in Corporate America. Regular promotions and bonuses gave me confidence in my ability to climb the ladder, but I didn’t honestly love my job. It was merely a way for me to fund the life I wanted.

Mentorship by a senior executive played a pivotal role in my decision. Happy to take me under her wing, she quickly became invested in my career.

I was certain that she was living my dream life. She drove my favorite car, a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, wore the designer labels that cluttered my vision boards, and seemed to ‘have it all together’.

After several meetings and lunch-ins, I became curious about her life outside of work. I was hoping to follow in her footsteps without actually knowing what her life was like.

Did she get to travel often?

Traveling was a major part of my dream lifestyle, but I assumed it was so expensive that a corporate salary would be necessary to make it a reality.

If traveling was my dream, what was hers? Did she get to do the things she wanted?

I began to ask personal questions.

She explained that if my career was only a means to fund the life I wanted, it would likely lead to misery. She sacrificed a lot in her personal life to achieve professional success and would not advise anyone to make those sacrifices if they were not passionate.

The salary was a bonus, not her reason.

Had she been working solely for a paycheck, she would have been unsuccessful and extremely unfulfilled.

This was a major wake-up call for me.

I was intelligent, ambitious, beautiful, and determined. Anything I set my mind to, I believed I would achieve. If I wanted her position, with time and hard work I would undoubtedly have it; but I was certain that this was not a sacrifice I was willing to make.

Traveling had been in my heart for so long that I knew I couldn’t have put it there myself.

I wanted to wander from country to country, experiencing new cultures, foods and languages along the way. I didn’t know how to make it my reality, but I was willing to sacrifice for this dream.

One morning my heart sucker punched my brain. I had an anxiety attack. I was crippled with fear and worry that I would become someone I did not want to be, all because I was too afraid to be myself.

I quit.

As I write this article from an oasis in Morocco, my sixteenth country on a world adventure that began two years ago, I now understand what my mentor wanted to teach me.

Sacrifice is necessary for success.

Whether it is your time, comfort zone, career, or family, you will undoubtedly sacrifice something to achieve greatness.

While I have experienced scary times (especially during six months in Central America), I have learned more about myself than I ever imagined.

After spending a year traveling through Europe – visiting England, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Belgium and Netherlands – I fell in love with new foods (hello, cheese) and cultures (hello, maternity leave in France).

I learned that there is more than one ladder to climb, and living my travel dream did not necessarily mean choosing between two lifestyles.

While I do not plan to re-enter the workforce, my travels have made me an even more attractive and interesting candidate for a position in Corporate America. I am now bilingual with an understanding of different world cultures.

Whether in Corporate America or through my own ventures, I am happy with the sacrifices I have made to achieve my success.

And to me, that is the true definition of happiness.

RELATED ARTICLE: Don’t Allow Money to Dictate Your Career Choice

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