This blog post was originally published on November 5, 2018, I am re-publishing it to show everyone who follows my new blog on danstheengineer.co.uk and my career path.
I’ll explain my background a little.
I quit A levels aged 16 to work to earn money. Soon after, I started an electrician’s apprenticeship which I loved! I worked my way up the ranks very quickly and aged 22 I started up an electrical contractors’ company which grew year on year.
Aged 30 I decided I wanted more from life than working every awake hour 6-7 days a week, the stresses of being an employer, the pressure of a very hard industry and wanting more time with my family.
I had fantastic security of income to pay the mortgage and to provide for my family, a 5-bedroom hillside house with a great view, good cars, and a business which turns over £1.5M per annum.
In the year 2017-2018, my career was at an all-time high. I had been accepted as a fellow of the IET, I helped set up the e5 Group, my YouTube channel Dans the Engineer was growing and gaining lots of interest, business was booming, I had a great client base, and I was given plenty of opportunities within the industry I was about to leave.
I left the UK aged 31 to embark on an adventure of a life time early August 2018. I am writing this 3-months into my full-time family travel journey lying in bed in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
I certainly left on a high!
My life is completely different to what it used to be.
I have absolutely no idea what day of the week it is and that really doesn’t matter…. apart from Sunday’s when certain things aren’t open. That can always be a pain.
My life used to be full of strict routine, procedures and schedules. Everything was a timeline.
I still have timelines now, but they are far more flexible other than flights and key dates.
The only ‘routine’ I have is working out, eating and bedtime. A word was introduced to me recently which I would like to replace routine with; ‘rhythm’.
Typically, I get up when my body tells me it wants to which is around 6.30am. I work out in a gym if I’m near one or a park if the weather isn’t terrible. I then come home and wait for the family to wake up and make us breakfast. My wife then works out and I get the kids ready for the day as well as myself – although getting ready myself usually involved throwing on a top and shorts and I’m done!
We love food and being vegan, we have to plan where we eat if we choose to eat out but we try to home cook as much as possible if we have a kitchen. In between eating we carry out the usual family chores, but we try to explore in the location we are as much as we can.
It might be a walk on the beach, checking out a town or going to a visitor attraction. It all depends where we are, and we try to be as active as possible…. but we all need rest. So, we do that too!
My wife Poppy does our travel planning which is time consuming so when she needs the time I will take the kids out. Essentially, we have swapped roles. She was a full time stay at home mum. I worked. I spend a little more time with the children than she does, and she does more ‘work’ than I do.
I also have this huge amount of time that I have never had before during adulthood. We are always doing something but even on a walk up a mounting or around a lake, I don’t need to think about where my engineers are tomorrow, or if Charles has the quotation he was asking for.
I literally have time to think about whatever I like plus to enjoy being in the moment. And this is an important point…. I am totally living in the moment.
The transition from my old to new role has presented some main changes. Another point I would like to make is that I often replace the word ‘change’ with ‘develop’. So here are some of my main developments:
1. Being a main carer of my children.
This is something I never thought I would be doing. I enjoyed fatherhood in my old role but I looked at work as an escape because parenting is tough. I no longer have that. Do I find it hard??? Hell yes!!!! Parenthood is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
I’ve had to adapt my parenting and self to be able to deal with the mental challenges parenting brings.
I’m not going to lie. My skills still need tweeking but I’m getting there!
My kids have taught me more than anyone else. I learn from them all the time so it is important for me to embrace this role change and absorb what I can whilst having fun teaching my them and myself.
2. The sense of importance.
Being a business owner, I felt my team relied on me and in some sense they did. I had responsibility on ensuring they had work, were paid, we were paid, projects were completed, and materials ordered.
I’ve worked my way up the career ladder, so I’ve always had responsibility due to always managing but now I no longer have that responsibility.
This was tough. Sure, I have responsibility being a father and husband but that hasn’t changed, but the responsibility that I had with work has totally changed.
I grew up thinking that one must work. One must bring back bread to the Family home and provide – very traditional thinking. I thought that was essential as part of being male.
Now I am very open minded. I’m not sexist and I welcome change but when that change is implemented it doesn’t mean I can adjust within seconds. I need to process the changes, especially when I have had certain beliefs my whole life.
When I started travelling and no longer worked for my old business there was a huge hole inside and I started to question who I am and what my role is. I became paranoid that my wife may think less of me and wondered what I offered her. I developed anxiety.
I realised my job defined me!!!!! It was self-importance.
I thought that my job was everything I was, but now I realise how stupid that is!!!!
I’m not just what I my job was. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a friend. A sibling. A son.
Although I no longer bring home the bread, I support my family. I teach my kids. I encourage both my wife and kids to do whatever makes them happy and support them however I can.
I have had so little time before travelling to think about myself that I have actually forgotten who I am and have neglected self-care!!!
I know that feeling important was perhaps egotistical and slightly delusional because the truth is my old role has been fulfilled by someone else. Whether or not they do the same job better or worse than me, I don’t know, but they have taken on the responsibility that I thought was so important. Do the engineers call me up asking for my help (not going to lie, I’ve had a few phone calls) but in general, no they do not. It isn’t my job anymore.
A JOB is temporary thing. YOU are not.
I’ve realised this now, but I know I still need a focus to exercise my mind more than anything. My wife and I are implementing our future plans. To maintain some sort of focus I work out each morning, I read, I eat as well as I can on the move, I meditate and socialise when I can.
I’m spending as much time enjoying what I can, when I can. I’ve started to look after myself!
Since working on myself I understand that when my mind and body is in a good place, I am at my optimum. This is important, so I provide positive energy which transfers to my family. It dawned on me that all the time in my old role I was overworked and practising self-neglect, I was transferring negative energy to my family because I wasn’t happy.
My advice to anyone….. balance is key. You need to work to earn money, but you also need to be happy and do things for yourself. You will not be at your optimum performance if you’re over worked and unhappy. Employers should also take note of this. People are human. Not robots.
If you manage a team of people who are directly affected by you, if you provide bad energy to the team, they will absorb that whereas if you are providing positive energy, they will benefit too! Who wants to be around someone who is always stressing, negative and unmotivated???
3. The relationship with my wife
We have always had what I believe is a good relationship. We care for each other and support each other. We always seem to be on the same page and agree on most things. The extent of arguing is a disagreement about something but that’s it. We laugh more than anything else.
We are with each other ALOT. We don’t see friends regularly. We don’t have an escape from each other (not that we need one).
We are best friends as well as being married but our bond has grown. We have created a stronger team. We are fully aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and help each other where needed. This is so important when travelling because you need team work!
I think mutual respect is vital in any relationship. Understanding each other’s roles and being happy with what each of you provide, whether it is marriage, friendship or a business relationship.
We have become incredibly open with each other. The way to explain it is that you have friends you may talk to about certain topics but not to others. Well, we are that friend in all cases and no topic is off limits.
Our very strong relationship has got stronger!!!!
4. I can do whatever I want to. I can be whoever I am.
I don’t need to answer to anyone but myself.
Obviously, I have to consider any repercussions of my actions, but I don’t have to answer to society!
I don’t have to do the same as everyone else and don’t have to meet others expectations.
Every country has its own culture which I enjoy learning but as a foreigner, I stick out like a sore thumb in many places. People may already judge me as a tourist which is fine, but nobody’s judgement will influence how I do things, how I dress, or how I act.
I just have to ensure that my family unit are well, and we are living life how we wish to!
I am essentially at the start of my journey on Our Venture Beyond and hope it may inspire you if you feel you share similar struggles with your life! I will be posting more blogs as I go and hope to share my experiences with you.
The answer to the title of this blog post – I left my great career to travel the world… Have I made a mistake? HELL NO!!!!! I feel free. I feel like me. I am enjoying every second and have zero regrets. I have realised how unhappy I was and how negative my life was but when you’re in the thick of it, it is easy to be blind sighted. Do I know my future and is it secure? Nope, but that is the fun of it. I am in my own story book and I don’t know what is going to happen next!!!!
Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.