To write my own journey in a blog post is an interesting opportunity to be given having never done it before. Can I do it, I guess we’re about to find out…
Firstly, I want to take it back to my childhood where I was raised by a superhuman, single mother who worked a job she hated for years on end instead of just ‘signing on’ with two children and receiving the same money from the Government in benefits as it’s called in the UK. Whenever I look back and truly connect with Mum’s work ethic and relentless self-sacrifice just to put clothes on our back and food on the table, I can’t help but feel quite emotional, and pleasantly reminded of what life’s all about all at the same time. A Mother’s love is like no other!
Finishing School, it was off to College to pursue the professional footballer (round shape ball, not AFL) dream through their academy and doing a course in Public Services Studies as my Dad has been a retained Fire Fighter all his life and at the time it seemed a good way to go. But really, I had no idea what I wanted to do! College was a shock for me coming from a small town and being in that sports team culture it was very much an Alpha dominated, ego lead environment where if you didn’t stand up for yourself you would easily be put down… This forces you to create a different version of yourself or a front and you can start to believe that’s who you are the longer you stay in that environment. At such a critical age I believe in the nature vs nurture argument that the nurture part here can lead people down a completely different path that they’re destined to walk.
Time to enter into the ‘real world’ by getting a ‘proper job’ – growing up I had stints of doing a paper round, working on the food markets, waitering and supermarket shifts as well as other random summer jobs to keep the money coming in. All of these were led by my Mum pushing me to get working to develop an awareness of earning my own money and paying for my own things. With no idea what I wanted to do my Mum guided me into Construction Management where I managed to get in with a well-respected company who would also pay for my Bachelor’s Degree – everyone’s dream, but was it mine? Again, I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I took what seemed right at the time. A job is just a means to earn money anyway, isn’t it?
After 5 years in this job and my degree under my belt, I was ‘over achieving’ for my age by a long way working as a Project Manager with a brand-new company car – I mean, what more could you want? After a couple of requests to be paid based on the work I was doing, not my age I realised this company was never going to reward you for your efforts, you were to be proud to work for the company and enjoy the ‘status’ which comes with your job. This for me was the first sign that maybe there’s more out there and I should go exploring in some way shape or form. Seed, planted!
Truth be told, as all my friends went away to University and I stayed locally having my degree paid for, to counteract the pain of missing out on the experience of going to “Uniiiiiiiiiiiii” and everything that comes with it, it was always my intention to go and do a summer season on a party island once I had my degree anyway.
It is now the summer of 2013 and we are on the party island of Ibiza, one of the Balearic Islands in Spain. Having requested a sabbatical from my job, I handed in my notice making my ‘summer of love’ dream come true to be met with shock and amazement that I was “still going ahead with this silly idea” and that he thought I had forgotten all about that nonsense. At which point, they offered me my same desk and job back immediately which I’m told has never been done in the company’s close to 100-year history. Safe to say, I had a great summer, grew so much as a person, experienced anything and everything I could and developed an insatiable appetite for the world and everything in it… Never returning to that job again. This was a huge step in shedding my shell and growing as a person.
What’s next? 6 weeks after landing back in the UK I boarded a one-way flight to Australia, the home of white beaches and crystal-clear water where the sun shines 24/7 and the people live in board shorts surfing every day – or at least that’s what I thought! With next to no money and no plan, all I knew is I didn’t want to live in a Hostel and somehow, I wanted to find a way to extend my visa without doing the farm work. What was I searching for? At the time I had no idea that I was even searching for anything. Maybe I was trying to escape something as all I was doing was looking forward with no sign of looking back.
I worked in a face to face, commission only sales job which although the pay was terrible it taught me some of the most valuable lessons as a person, in business, in life and really helped me come even further out of my shell. The grind, effort, persistence, adaptability, negotiation, rejection handling and sales in general were just a few lessons that will stay with me forever. It seemed the opportunity would present itself for Sponsorship but I realised that I didn’t want my stay in Australia to be tied to that job so went hunting for new opportunity with more money and stability.
I thought about using my old Construction Management skills even though I didn’t want to as a way to get more money, then a few ‘random events’ happened and I started looking into Recruitment specialising in the Construction sector. Applying the skills I had learnt in my previous jobs (Construction & Sales) I took to it like a duck to water and never looked back. 6-7 years of earning really good money, exceeding targets month after month, going on nice holidays and being a key part of the company’s growth was great. I mean, what more could you want?
After a relationship ending in the early stages of my employment with this company, I received such great advice from the Director it began to feel more like a Father / Son relationship and friends all at the same time. I won’t lie, being single for all that time following definitely had its perks but after a while a feeling of loneliness and a yearning for something more definitely creeps in. I’d ask myself; would I be happier if I found a partner? And the answer would be yes. But is this the answer to happiness or contentment? Questions of what I truly wanted in life started to bounce around my mind more and more.
With talks of stepping up and running the company’s operations in Victoria looming I felt the urge to travel and see the world before taking on such a responsibility. This kickstarted a great year of travelling through South East Asia, Central and South America with a little trip to Ibiza and England in the middle for good measure, once being granted an indefinite sabbatical retaining my employment status of course.
But what was I really searching for with this travelling expedition? To experience new things, to meet new people (and hopefully a life partner), to live care free immersing myself in different cultures and have a good party along the way too? Sure! Or was I trying to escape something again? All I knew was to get on that plane and go and have a good time.
Part 2 of Joel’s epic journey is out -> Continue reading here