Nothing much happened at first.
We placed some ads to sublease our apartment and had a couple of visitors already in June, but none of them really fit. They all wanted a place for a longer duration and a lower price.
I had to work for 3 more months so I was still focused on that.
It was still too early to look for something in Germany so I simply waited.
But somehow the energy around me and my attitude began to shift noticeably.
Once I made the decision to leave, I began to enjoy coming to work again. I was more productive and happy, and I became more disciplined with all my good habits such as morning exercise, meditation, cold showers, etc.
It is easy to explain this away by saying “Of course you were happy, you were leaving”.
Of course this is true. But it was more than that.
I began to feel powerful.
I had taken control of my life again after having bounced silently along on the waves of what society and my working environment told me that I was supposed to do. Now I was doing what I wanted to do, on my own terms.
I smiled more. I laughed and joked more with my colleagues. I made more effort to socialize. The workplace became pleasant. I felt like I was on holiday everyday.
I entered into a type of flow state where I was just enjoying each day and not becoming attached to any particular outcome, other than my vague goal of going to Germany.
Then another interesting thing happened.
My biggest fear about quitting was the fact that I was supporting my wife and I on my salary. She had started her own business 2 years earlier and it wasn’t making money yet. I might have left a year sooner if it wasn’t for this feeling of responsibility.
Very shortly after I gave notice – literally, within weeks – my wife’s business suddenly began to make money!
I began to philosophize about cause and effect.
Is it the desired outcome that creates happiness, or does happiness create the desired outcome?
My boss, who had been really awesome about the whole thing, agreed to put me in contact with a corporate Partner in Frankfurt.
I told her I was only willing to work half-time at most. She agreed to this situation and would take me on, but there were 3 points about which I was less than thrilled:
- I had to commit to at least 6 months (remember I only wanted to go for 3 months to start)
- It would be doing more or less the same type of work that I was desperately trying to escape from
- I wouldn’t really have the break from corporate life that I was seeking
My feelings of fear and responsibility kicked in again and I began to rationalize.
I should take the offer. I would have income while in Germany instead of burning through savings, especially if we can’t get rid of our apartment. It would be a German-speaking environment so I would be able to practice my German. Frankfurt could be cool. I should consider myself lucky to even have this option.
I related my thoughts to my wife.
This is why having an awesome partner in your corner is so important, and I love her deeply for what she told me next.
“Do what you want babe, but I thought you wanted to do something different? I thought that was the whole point of taking a break in Germany?”
So many other spouses might have pressured me to take the job. Now I felt like I would be letting her down if I did take the job.
I politely turned the opportunity down.
Full-on “Not Give a Shit” Mode
That was the final test. My wife had helped me obliterate the last of my fears.
June and July came and went. We had a couple of bites on our apartment but still no takers.
We lowered the price a little. Still nothing.
It was August. A recruiter called me about an interesting job.
Recruiter: “Hi, we have this cool-sounding job we think you’d be good for.”
Me: “Right, it sounds pretty cool.”
Recruiter: “Awesome! From when are you available?”
Me: “Well, I just quit my job and am leaving it in a month. Then I’m going to Germany until the end of the year, so I’ll be available from January 2017”.
Recruiter: “Well they would like someone to start in October. Any chance you could be available from then?”
This is where fear would have normally kicked in, but I had surpassed it.
Me: “No, as I said I am going to Germany. I will be available from January so feel free to call me back with any opportunities starting from that point on.”
I was proud of myself. Not even for a second did fear or doubt enter my heart as I said those words.
Then, work made one more attempt to hook me back in.
My boss asked me how my progress was going with the move to Germany. I said I still hadn’t found a place, nor subleased my apartment.
He interpreted this to mean that I might still be available.
“Would you consider staying one more month?” he asked.
“Probably not, but I’ll think about it”, I replied.
I decided I would only do it if I gained something of value other than just another month’s salary.
So I made a proposal to my boss for some extra incentives.
My boss rejected these.
“End of September it is then”, we both agreed.
It was now the end of August and nothing was decided.
Time was running out…
Stay tuned for the final installment!