Welcome back to Our Journey, the section dedicated to the insider perspective for Off Path Travels and our reflections on life, business, and happiness.
In the first post, you learned much more about who we are. And now you’re going to know a little more about what kicked us into high gear and gave us the push to start this website.
Leaving the world we knew behind for an uncertain and challenging life on the road took some confidence. But it also took one other thing: a turning point. That one moment where we both knew that we had to make a change. We had to take a leap into something new, something different, something more meaningful.
And that moment came.
I Don’t Do Email
Kristina’s last job before Off Path Travels was with a non-profit organization. Their mission was excellent and a lot of the people in her office were incredible. But, at times, the work was not. Over the years spent there, the organization had major swings in funding. At times their budget was stretched to the max, leading to rapid turnover and extreme short-staffing.
On top of that, she had one colleague which changed her view of success forever. This person was nice and could get along well with others. But sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes people need to actually do their job and get things done. This was not the case. In fact, this person “did not do email.”
What?! Yes, someone actually thought they did not have to use email as a means of communication in the 21st century. Someone with plenty of peers who, surprise surprise, did in fact rely on email.
So what happened? Kristina started to get thrown under the bus for lack of communication. Even though she’s an absolute rock-star at organization, scheduling, and communication, she was treated as if her efforts weren’t enough. Her memories of being self-employed came back with a vengeance. If this person can get to this amount of success without “doing email” what could I do on my own? What if I put this effort back into my own business, into something I am truly passionate about?
Traveling was always on her mind. Now, with the knowledge from building the health coaching business, she started to imagine a world where her love of travel and her savvy business skills crashed together. Resulting in an explosion of personal success for her, all while continuing to help others.
My Job or My Life
I had always known that the world of finance and legal work was ugly. But as it often happens when you like what you’re doing, I was blind to it. Eventually, the blindness wore off. I encountered a wall that I couldn’t bust through. Instead, I ended up bashing my head against it. Over and over.
My luck was strong in 2008 when I got a finance job as the market tanked, and it continued after grad school when I landed a job with a financial institution that blended my love of numbers with my passion for law: comprehensive financial services. We did it all. Investments, taxes, insurance, and even estate planning. The firm had many premier clients and it felt like a dream working with them.
I’m sure that already sounds downright dreadful to some of you, but believe me, it was perfect for me.
At the beginning, I started to notice some red flags. But every office has them, right? So I kept working away. Continuing to push hard to produce quality work. Continuing to try to bring change to the organization and push it into the right direction.
And then it happened. I finally realized there was only one thing this organization wanted out of me: my life.
In order to be successful here, I would have to stop caring about the things I do at home. I would have to stop caring about the personal grievances I have with the industry. I would have to put my head down and act like everything is great – plugging away until I eventually retire.
Some people can deal with that. That’s not me. I needed a better balance between my life and my job. And it started to look like I wasn’t going to find that in my current vocation. But I wasn’t quite ready to leave yet.
A Changing World
As most of the world knows, there is a rising movement toward political divisiveness. Even toward hatred.
While the political world in the United States had been veering toward incompetence for some time, a new level had been reached. Hate started to come radiating out from every corner. Us versus Them was (and is) the name of the game, even when the two are neighbors. And an era of politics came to fruition that would obviously only cause harm to its constituents.
Every time we looked at the news, we knew something was certain to churn our stomachs. It was nice to find the shows which made light of the situation, but it was disgusting to think about the many people hurt by the decisive turn toward negativity and a complete lack of empathy.
For us, one good thing came out of this. It was possible for anyone to do anything. See, both of us know that we struggle with a terrible affliction: perfection paralysis. I hadn’t run with ideas I had long ago because I needed to get experience first. Kristina had been bashful about going out on her own because there were so many others who knew more.
Guess what. That doesn’t matter. You can do anything you put your mind to. Conquering the world is not just for the professionals. It’s for the dreamers, the people willing to learn, the ones who won’t take no for an answer.
The fire inside of us was already burning strong. But it was now transforming into a raging inferno.
Islands in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean
When people ask us “what was the turning moment which led you to start Off Path Travels?” I’ve always known the answer. Actually, that’s not true. I didn’t know until someone asked us. Then my answer came out as smooth as if they had asked what my birthday was.
Our visit to Hawaii in 2017.
Hawaii is a special place. I know I’m not alone with that. Seeing the jaw-dropping mountains surrounded by nothing but deep, blue ocean fills the heart and soul with gratitude. With each adventure we went on, the smile on our faces seemed to grow. By the end of the trip, our grins went from ear-to-ear in the biggest perma-smile imaginable.
We swam with an entire pod of spinner dolphins, took a helicopter ride over an active volcano with bubbling lava, stayed in an open-air house with a private pool overlooking the ocean, and hung out in a hammock on top of a black-sand beach.
But one conversation still sticks out in my mind. The main reason for visiting Hawaii was to see Kristina’s father. She had told me a lot about him and I knew I would love him, but I didn’t know how profound of an impact one little sentence he said would have on me.
One day, him and I were discussing the plight of the United States political sphere. I mentioned that I knew of one thing that needs to change before good can come about. His response was simple: “Maybe you’re the one that needs to change it.”
I don’t want to go into politics. But I do want to make this world a better place. After listening to him make it sound so easy, the fire inside of me grew.
Just go do it. Find your mission and go do it.
If I don’t change my life, who will? If I don’t take the steps toward the life I want to live right now, when will I?
The Final Straw
Coming back from Hawaii, we were hit hard with the reality of our lives. We became dead-set on gaining independence and helping people in an area of life we are more passionate about.
It was the final straw to break the camels back.
We knew it was possible for anyone to do anything. Now it was time to do so for ourselves.