The first large step toward sailing off into the sunset is to quit my job. One would think that quitting one's job would be simple. Who hasn't had a moment (or two) in which one sits back in his or her office chair and imagines skipping down the hallway singing "I quit! I quit! I'm quitting! I quit!" Sure, I bet we all have. Now that I am here, though, the anticipation is much like the feeling you feel right before you rip a band aid off. I feel a little tingly.
I was supposed to do it today, but I failed. Yep, I failed to quit. I realize my failure might seem insane, even hopelessly self indulgent. It probably is. If I told my self from four years ago that I would have difficulty cutting the cord, my self would have responded with a swift slap to my left cheek. "What do you mean it's hard? Its not hard! It's a great idea! THINK ABOUT FIJI! FIJI needs you!" But, it is, it's hard. As far as jobs go, I enjoy this job. As far as people go, I enjoy working with these people. My cases are interesting, and although I learn something new every day, I don't feel constantly out of sorts about what my job description entails. What if I never find such a good gig, with such good friends when I come back? Shouldn't I be making hay while the sun shines? Security, good sense, and responsibility are all such excellent excuses to avoid doing what I must now do.
I went to work this morning knowing I was going to pull my own unicorn card. But as the day wore on my nerve diminished and I weaseled out. I go through various scenarios in my head and try to prepare speech for each one. I am overwhelmed by the amount of quitting I must do. I work with so many people whom I like and will miss, and one by one, I will have to tell them I'm a quitter. Quitting, quitter, quitting. Each one of these people have been important to me, and to my career. They have been generous with their time, their advice, and their friendship. Inertia is so much more comfortable than making a right hand turn, even if the right hand turn leads you (literally) to white sand beaches and the blue waters of Fiji.
By 4:00 p.m., I reach out to my Quitting-Consultant and a prior defector (The Millennial) for a pep talk. (Yes, I have a Quitting Consultant and a Millennial Support Group.) They talk me through it, but by that time my boss had gone home, and I must save this process for another day. I went home, and went for a walk with Andrew. He has already gone through this process. So, we plotted and planned how this might go. Why is this this hardest part? It seems like this is the hardest part. I'll give it another try tomorrow.
There are many schools of thought with regard to when to tell your boss you are quitting to go sailing. One school of thought says to give them a heads up a bit early, so as to allow your boss to find a replacement for you to train. The other school of thought says wait until the very end - no good can come of telling your boss any earlier than necessary. At best you will start to lose opportunity once your employer knows you are bailing out and at worst you will be immediately shown the door. Who knows what will happen between now and then? Do you want to forego growth opportunity or promotions at your job now knowing that a year, two, or several more from now you might go sailing? What if things change, and you never do go sailing? It is truly a moral conundrum.
About a year before departure, Andrew decided to test Option One. As a sales engineer selling water treatment chemicals, systems, and ongoing consulting to customers in a wide range of heavy industry applications like power plants, battery manufacturers, paper mills, titanium refineries and the like, Andrew estimated it would take approximately one year to recruit, hire, and train a person to take over his duties. But, before he committed to the Confess Early Strategy, he wanted to run the idea past a friend and co-worker who was being groomed to take on a management position. “All of the wisdom, none of the power!” Andrew says.
We had a great sailing weekend. We put together the wind vane (a wind driven autopilot), and learned how to use it to steer the boat while under sail. We took Andrew’s colleague out for sail in some windy, rainy weather and used our foul weather gear. (He had fun anyway, he is the hearty type.)
I laid down below in the boat while we were underway, double reefed in 15-20 knots of wind. As the water rushes by the hull it sounds like you are inside a washing machine, but beyond the water rushing by, there isn’t any creaking or groaning. Sonrsia sounds strong and straight through the water. I close my eyes and imagine what it will be like when this is my whole world.
After returning to the slip, Andrew offers his co-worker his fancy scotch and we hang out below decks making small talk. I can tell Andrew is simmering, stewing, then bubbling over with anticipation. Andrew casts me a sideways "So, what'dya think" glance, I cast him my "whatever you think" glance, and he launches in.
"So, I have an ulterior motive for dragging you out sailing this weekend.” Andrew starts.
“Oh yeah?” His friend says, interest now piqued.
“I wanted you to come sailing so you could kind of see what this whole boat thing is all about....because…” Andrew pauses for dramatic effect, or maybe he was choking on the words I am now finding it so difficult to say, “…we are planning to quit next February to sail around the world."
There is a long pause. "Huh. Really?...That's cool." He eyes me curiously, but I don't signal any dissent so he turns back to Andrew. "So, have you told The Boss?"
After some further discussion, the co-worker's recommendation comes down without doubt or hesitation: "The sooner the better."
The sooner the better.
The sooner the better.
Ugh. This conclusion tied my stomach in knots. Long ago, when we first came up with this crazy scheme, I suggested that before we separate ourselves from our careers we should take a week or two off and attempt a real shakedown. I wanted to test my fortitude for night watches, seasickness, provisioning, living on anchor, etc. We had played around on a little boat in Lake Mead, raced on sailboats in Lake Mead, chartered larger sailboats in Hawaii, Florida, and California, and owned and sailed Sonrisa on weekends. But, none of these things can replicate the challenge of a night watch or living with seasickness. I wanted to test ourselves before making the last final call.
I thought, when I suggested this, Andrew had agreed it was a good idea. And, indeed, we scheduled an official shakedown, a one week trip to sail from San Diego up to my sister’s house in Santa Cruz, California, and back South to San Diego. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately knowing now how that shakedown run turned out!) Andrew’s review was scheduled for the week before our shakedown run. Andrew was running full steam ahead with a plan to tell his boss at his review. Was I ready?
Just doing the math on our fingers, we have always known that about the time we were ready to go our careers were going to take off. This came true for me January of 2015, making Shareholder at a law firm with 41 offices around the world. Andrew is experiencing this conundrum of opportunity, too. Just days before Andrew planned to give his notice, we had dinner scheduled with a friend and co-worker in management in another region. Unbeknownst to us, he had a job proposal for Andrew all lined up. As his friend launched into his pitch, I sat there “mum”, chewing on my arugula salad.
Andrew listened with a flat lipped smile and just said “thanks, that sounds like it would be great. Let’s see how my annual review goes on Tuesday, and then we can talk.” I knew Andrew was planning to tell his boss he is quitting on Tuesday.
In the car ride home I said, "Well, we knew this is how it would be." Andrew was unperturbed. He loves his job, but he is resolute. I don't think he can put his finger on why, but there is something calling him to sea.