7 Years Without a “Real” Job – Should I Stop Keeping Track?

Matt Long Grand Canyon

Seven years ago I was standing on a riverbank in France when I saw a call come in from my office. It was my boss, and we were about to start a very difficult conversation about what I wanted out of life and where my priorities were at that time. Given the fact that I was on that river bank in France, it was pretty obvious what my true passion was, travel. I parted ways with my old life that day, ending my career as a 9-5 professional and embarking on a brand new path. I cried, a lot, I drank some cognac (I was in France after all) and starting plotting how to make it all work. I wasn’t sure if it would or not but, seven years later, here I am pursuing that which makes me happiest.

For the first few years, it was somewhat of a novelty to me. I was actually doing what I wanted to do for a living and somehow I had made all of this work. Transitioning from a stable, traditional job to being a self-employed creative isn’t for everyone, but that is exactly what I’ve been doing. I started the tradition of writing this yearly post in order to mark the milestone and really to help motivate myself to keep moving forward. Now that it’s been seven years though, I seem to be somewhat entrenched which begs the question, should I continue to keep track of this odd anniversary?

It’s funny, every year since leaving my traditional job I’ve written a post like this, and reading back through them is eye opening. One theme though which is constant is an optimistic hope that more than just make the right decision in life, is that the consequences of that decision are positive. It’s a harder nut to crack than one might suppose, because everything we do affects those around us in ways we could never imagine.

On the whole yes, things are much better than they were before I made the career shift. I’m happier with my job, which in turn led to a much more stable outlook on life. I lost weight, I became a more positive person and I hope that attitude shift has had an effect on others. It hasn’t been easy of course, and constantly working to make a paycheck is many times stressful, but it’s a trade-off that I’ve been willing to make. My travel schedule has at times been a problem for those close to me, but I think now we’ve reached a equilibrium that works for everyone. Not too long ago though, I once again found myself doubting that decision I made seven years ago.

Matt Long

With so many changes in the digital environment and new people entering it every day, it’s become harder and harder to rise above the noise. One is tempted to follow whatever the latest trend is and to bemoan the fact that one doesn’t have the perfect body to show off on Instagram. It seems that those individuals who at one time were telling meaningful stories about the world have almost all disappeared, replaced by an army of shirtless studs and bikini models inexplicably eating breakfast in a hotel pool. One is mightily tempted to stoop to their level, all in an effort to gain a few more likes and to ultimately be more employable. But then I started reading through these yearly posts, watching my evolution from year to year and I realized how senseless it would be to change what I do in a vain attempt to follow the trend of the week.

Ever since starting this site I have firmly believed in the power of great content. I have, and still do, think that at the end of the day, those who have created something meaningful and from the heart will persevere over those who are all flash and no substance. This was an important realization and it’s all thanks to these somewhat silly yearly posts I’ve penned over the years.

Nothing in life is easy, and being a self-employed entrepreneur definitely is a challenge. But I understand now the importance of following one’s gut instincts and, at times, being a little selfish in order to realize one’s full potential and to live the best life possible. So yes, every year I will write a post like this one and share it around the interwebs, not to show off or to brag, but as a reminder to myself that what I’ve done is special and deeply impactful. Talking about travel may seem flippant to some, but it has very much saved my life and soul in every way imaginable.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

3 thoughts on “7 Years Without a “Real” Job – Should I Stop Keeping Track?”

  1. Hi Matt,
    I love the reason you keep up these annual posts. What you’re doing is meaningful and therefore impactful. Continue to tell your stories! On a side note, whenever I give a presentation at conferences, I always highlight your IG feed as one that informs and inspires. And I use the ‘beautiful bodies’ feeds as examples of those that do not inspire me to travel at all (perhaps to the gym. Haha!). So, keep up the awesome work!


  2. Thanks for sharing us with your experience. This year helped you a lot. The fact that you followed your dream of traveling is inspirational.
    Few of us have the courage to explore the world as you did. Although it seems risky to leave your comfort zone, it’s worth everything.

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