Say Yes to Life

by Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical on April 7, 2011

Say Yes to LifeToday I was going to write with more specifics about my sabbatical proposal but instead I wanted to mix it up a bit with some events that occurred earlier this week and some thoughts on a movie I watched. 

As you may or may not know I’m on a mission to take a 1 year sabbatical and move my family overseas to Indonesia which is where my wife is originally from.  And while there are times that I don’t enjoy my job I do want to have the option to come back to it after the year, hence my sabbatical proposal which I presented a few weeks ago.

But earlier this week we got news that the company is going to move our department.  Not out of state or anything but just to a different location in the building.  Now we had heard rumor that they wanted to move us to make room for training rooms but nothing had been confirmed…until now.

We currently have a pretty sweet location on the second floor of a newer building with lots of windows which bring in natural light and make for about as pleasant of an environment as you can get in Dilbert-ville.  But now it has been decided that later next month we will be relocated to the basement of the building.  That means tighter quarters, no natural light and a much less pleasant and motivational environment.

I am often asked why I would risk giving up a great job with benefits especially in this economy.  It’s usually followed by “Don’t you worry about how you will be able to support your family?”  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t my greatest concern, worry and fear.  But if you think for one second that your job is secure you’re kidding yourself.  Maybe once upon a time there was a sense of loyalty and commitment between the employer and employee but those days are gone.  I’ll also add that from a basement cubicle perspective this question is getting easier to answer.

We all know that money is what makes the world go ‘round and that it can be a limiting factor in the things you want to do.  But what I think people don’t realize is that the cost typically isn’t as much as they think.  Sure a Mercedes or a BMW is going to be expensive but do you really want that?  Would you prefer a year living in SE Asia or Central America exploring a new cultures, connecting with new people or spending more time with your family?  Does being in control of your own time sound preferable to having someone else set your schedule for you?

Of course everyone is different and we all have our own individual needs and desires and dreams and our own degree of risk we are willing to take.  You may want the nice house and car, the white picket fence and everything that goes along with that, and you may not mind going into work each day in a basement because you love what you do.  And that’s awesome!  There is a part of me that wants that as well.  We all should be so lucky as to find the things in life that make us happy.

because I think there is more to life than working for a someday

But as I have gotten older there is also another part of me that seeks out something more meaningful.  It’s a desire to experience and soak in as much of this world as I can.  Maybe getting older forces you to realize and come to terms with your own mortality.  Maybe it’s just a phase we all go through where we discover that we need to leave behind some kind of legacy to know that our time on this planet actually meant something, that it made a difference.  It’s this frame of mind that allows me to answer the question of how I can risk a good job with because I think there is more to life than working for a someday.

We all know what that someday is.  Someday I’m going to climb that mountain.  Someday I’m going to see what Bali is all about.  Someday I’m going to motorcycle across China.  Someday I’m going to write and publish my own book.  Inevitably someday never happens.  It’s not that we don’t have good intentions.  It’s not that we’re not motivated.  It’s simply that we let opportunities slip away from us.

You can’t audit life, my friend. – Yes Man

Over the weekend I watched Yes Man with Jim Carrey.  I’m not really a big Jim Carrey fan.  His facial expressions frankly scare me.  But I did enjoy this movie.  It’s about a bank employee (played by Carrey) who after a divorce withdraws from his social life and develops an increasingly negative outlook on life in general.  He ends up going to a Yes! seminar where he makes a covenant with himself to always say yes to every opportunity, request or invitation.

He begins to say Yes! to everything.  Yes to learning to fly. Yes to learning Korean. Yes to learning to play guitar.  Yes to any loan request at the bank.  And you know what happened?  His life blossomed.  By learning to play Third Eye Blind’s song Jumper he was able to talk a suicidal man off a ledge.  He made connections with the people he gave microloans to at the bank.  He started to feel alive and important.

Yes always leads to something good.  Never avoid opportunities. They may come in any form. – Yes Man

We all should probably live our lives being more open to opportunities and possibilities and less controlled by our past.  How different would our lives be if we used the word yes a little more?  I don’t want to look back on my life and say I wish I had taken that opportunity or I wish I had taken that sabbatical to Indonesia.  Hey, it’s my life and I can live it the way I want to.

I don’t fear life passing me by or losing out on some opportunity because I gave up my job for a world adventure.  I fear life passing me by as I dream away in a cubicle in a basement office. 

The world’s a playground. You know that when you are a kid, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it. – Yes Man

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Gillian @OneGiantStep April 7, 2011 at 10:12 am

Awesome Matt!
Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..The Great Eastward Migration

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Thanks Gillian! Hope you are well. WDS is getting closer!!

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Sarah Wu April 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Really great article, I recently read a post about that every minute that pass is every minute less of your life. We don’t have forever or later later. Sometime there,s decision need to be made. and the most importantly to make yourself happy too with no regret.

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm

So true Sarah. Taking calculated risks to pursue a fulfilling life is a great way to live. Live life with no regrets. I like that!

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Heather April 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

“I fear life passing me by as I dream away in a cubicle in a basement office. ”
As I read this, in my cubicle, it makes me angry at myself that I’m not doing more to get out of it. I don’t want to work for someday, because someday doesn’t always come for everybody. I look at my parents and while I am thankful that they are still quite healthy (they’re in their fifties), but still facing about 10 years before retirement and their someday begins. Sorry to get all morbid on you, but I needed another reminder to kick my butt! :-) thanks for another great post Matt!

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Hi Heather! It’s easy to get angry and frustrated when you feel trapped in a situation. I know that I have definitely been there. It tough to deal with. For myself I know that I am susceptible to negative thinking, self-doubt and the fear of failure. At some point though I think a person has to either condemn themself to a life they are not thrilled with by giving in or they have to summon up the courgage to change inside, step out and take a few risks and travel the path of the unknown. That is the journey I feel I am on right now. I’m changing. I’m taking some risks. And I’m walking that path. It may be that this path ends up not being the right one for me and in that case there are plenty of forks in the road leading to other paths. I hope that you too will find that path that leads to adventure and happiness.

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Ali April 9, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I loved the movie “Yes Man.” Reading posts like this is good inspiration to keep on pushing towards what I want, even if it isn’t easy. That whole idea of “someday” actually kind of scares me because it means I’m not doing what I want to right now. So now I’m making plans and setting things up to have my life include more of what I want and need to be happy. And now that I’ve decided to do some of these “crazy” things, it’s opened my mind up to thinking of all the other possibilities that are out there, things I never would’ve considered before. It’s like a wonderful domino effect.
Ali recently posted..Adventures in Flight Booking

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 11, 2011 at 10:28 am

Hi Ali! I think you are definitely rigth about the domino effect. The more we take some risks and realize that things are working out well the more risks we take and the more adventures we experience. I’m definitely rooting you on. See you in Indonesia!

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kathie April 11, 2011 at 12:38 am

you must be crazy!

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 11, 2011 at 10:28 am

On some days that is a definite possibility. :)

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Helchan April 13, 2011 at 12:59 am

Hy Matt!
“I fear life passing me by as I dream away in a cubicle in a basement office” is really ME! And i hate i’m not yet realized all my dreams, i got trapped for a long time in this cubicle. The problem is financial, yeah.. i hate that word, i promised i will realized all my dreams..

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 17, 2011 at 11:41 am

Hi Helena! It’s so easy when one is in a situation they don’t like to get down. But I’ve found that being down does not help further the cause of getting out of that rut. Keep dreaming and taking little steps to work your way out and one day you will wake up and actually be out. Cheers!

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