Follow:
Personal

why I’m quitting my day job and retiring at 26.

Travel Trip Map Direction Exploration Planning Concept

Travel Trip Map Direction Exploration Planning Concept

Grab your coffee (or wine…or beverage of choice) because this is going to be a long one. You’re in for a life story, words of encouragement, what’s ahead, and whatever else I throw in while I’m inspired before I watch the Super Bowl.

As the title suggests, I’m quitting my job in Corporate America and plan to retire for a while. At 26. Yes, I know that’s young. Yes, I know I’m crazy and might become a gypsy in eastern Europe if this doesn’t work out. But let’s back up a bit, Serial style, and hear me out. Two things always ring true throughout my life: 1) I’m really, really passionate about things I love and believe in and 2) I tend to usually take the unbeaten path with everything I do.

Growing up, I went to a fairly prestigious high school where the ultimate goal for every student I knew was to go to a big college like USC or UCLA, spend a few years studying their major (…or not studying their major), graduate, and get a job. I was the opposite; I wanted to figure out the fastest way to getting an amazing job. I trained in finance my entire senior year, scored a career at a credit union on my 18th birthday, and started working my way up the corporate totem pole. While there, I moonlighted as an intern at various places for four years while others were snowballing debt and learning the ins and outs of English 101 and that random Music Appreciation class that everyone seems to take last minute. I’ll skip over the boring part…recession hit, laid off, got a job in educational technology, randomly got into marketing, and fell in love with it. The first time where all of my stars aligned and all of my hard work paid off. I worked really hard at moving up the totem pole there — seven promotions over four years — getting involved in projects and expanding my experience in things I would have never, ever learned sitting at a desk in school. Stability in my early 20s was amaaazing and everything I dreamed. I owned my own home, had a dream career, and surrounded by a great group of friends that also happened to be coworkers. I used to joke that I could do the same thing for the next 20 years and be completely happy.

And then I started traveling. I had this crazy idea back in 2012 to buy a plane ticket to Italy for a two week trip of solo fun. I spent the next four months planning those 15 days — logistics of travel, learning Italian, studying the history and the sights I’d be visiting, researching the culture. It was like a Social Studies project on steroids only this time I couldn’t fail the final and got to drink lots of wine. 22 cities, nightly walks in search of the best gelato, a missed flight, some tears mixed with my first grey hair, and a new found love for travel. I planned my next trip abroad on the 11 hour flight home. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time in Sweden, Denmark, Mexico, and various parts of the US.

People asked me how I afford to travel so much and I quickly reply that it’s really not THAT expensive and show them how to plan their dream vacation without breaking the bank. True, I’m a single gal with no major bills and a great job to fund my lifestyle, but traveling isn’t as expensive as you may think. I semi-officially became a travel agent (moonlighting again, along with all of my other ventures) last September with the only motive to help people make their travel experience amazing and not overwhelming. Travel is such a huge part of my life and I’m passionate about making it a part of other people’s lives too.

This past autumn, I had the opportunity to move to Portland, Oregon for two months. It was everything I dreamed of it to be: Easy. Comfortable. Fun. (and honestly, the first place outside of my hometown where I can truly see myself settling down) Only this time, I didn’t have to rush to explore the city during my standard two week vacation — I had time to really savor everything, get to know the locals, and experience the culture. I had plans to move to the PNW this spring after my week vacation in Spain in March. Time went on and things didn’t feel completely right. I couldn’t pin point what it was exactly, but my heart wasn’t 100% set. Was it the move to a city where I don’t know anyone? No, no. Was it being away from family? Nope, that’s not it. Was it my career that I love? …actually, yes.

As much as I like my job, my entire personal life revolves around what I’m doing outside of my office hours. Figuring out how to squeeze an hour in the morning to garden; planning a quick trip to an entire country to fit in my 40 allotted hours of vacation time; spending weekend after weekend of hectic chaos to see and do everything in my two days off; spending another 8 hours on the computer (after a 10 hour work day) learning how to program software or writing on my very neglected blog. I know…this is real adult life and shit happens. I get it. But then I had an epiphany: why in the world am I chained to a corporate desk job when I’m more passionate about things that happen OUTSIDE of work? Why do I need to stay at a full-time career? Because society (and my brain) tells me I need stability and a populated Work and Education field on my Facebook profile?

So I bulked up my savings account, paid off my bills, built my credit, rented out my house, and quit my job. Just like that. No big career or plans in sight other than living the mini-retirement life. My last day of work is Friday and I leave for Spain in the beginning of March. So far, my “plan” is to have Barcelona as my home base for a few months and then backpack through Ireland/Great Britain during summer. After that, I’m not sure where the road might take me. And y’all (sorry, my Bakersfield roots just showed), it’s so exciting to take a risk out of my comfort zone.

So why should you care? Well, first…you don’t really have to care. I’ll probably spam your social media feeds with all my posts and adventures now that I’m not spending 20 hours a day on the computer and now finally feel inspired enough to write about my travels and passions. I’m not saying you should quit your job and become a bum. But I truly hope my blog gives you a teeny bit of inspiration to just go out there and make shit happen. Whatever that shit may be. Dream big, make a plan, and go do it. 2015 is the year of excitement and do what YOU want to do, not what statistics and society tell you is normal. My favorite quote from Amy Poelher’s new book Yes Pleaseperfectly sums up my mindset:

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that — that is what life is.

You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.

And my biggest mentor, also known as my dad, added “And if you ‘fail’, remember that it is only by the gauge of others. Starting anew is not failing. It’s forgetting the past and being a new you.”

You do you, boo boo. And I’m gonna do me. We’re gonna kick ass in 2015.

Share on
Previous Post Next Post

You should check out...

3 Comments

  • Reply Mindi M

    You go Kelly! LOVE the post!

    I’m in London now for school–I’m in love with school and I thought the UK would be a great jumping-off point for other trips I want to take in Europe. I’ve been practicing my Spanish and hope to go to Barcelona soon too! We should get together while you’re here in the UK-I’ll be here until September for sure! Not really certain of where I’m going after that, but I’m excited at the possibilities. 🙂

    June 22, 2016 at 2:23 pm
  • Reply Teresa Day

    Amazing read. Very inspiring! I plan on doing so much this year!

    June 22, 2016 at 2:23 pm
  • Reply Saundra gibbs

    This is a wonderful plan. I encourage you to go and see everything before you are tied down with debts and other commitments. I love travel and now is the best time to go and do. Anxious to see how it all works for you. My last trip was to Europe and I loved Barcelona and needed more time there. It is that round trip flight with a set date for return that is the bummer so open trip and live it to the fullest. It will all be wonderful and who know which path it will lead you down.

    June 22, 2016 at 2:23 pm
  • Leave a Reply