The reality of leaving behind a career in the search for greater fulfillment often isn't rosy.
We're told that life can be more precious when it's uncertain. Yet, we often feel that taking one straight path is the only way to go. It can take courage and a willingness to try, and try again, to move yourself in the right direction.
Susannah Cery knows the story. After working in advertising in London, she and her husband moved to jobs in Mumbai, India. When she became pregnant the couple decided to return to the UK and base themselves in Wales, close to family.
After realizing that they'd have a challenge building the careers they wanted in Wales, they were faced with a choice; return to London or search for jobs back in Asia. Susannah and her husband chose Asia, so with a baby in tow and a laptop to apply for jobs on the way, they set off on a backpacking adventure in South Asia in the hope of finding work.
While they backpacked, Susannah started a blog as she learned about traveling with a small child. Families emailed her with travel questions though the blog, and she realized how little information exists about this topic, as well as how meaningful her help was to her readers.
After working for two years in Kuala Lumpur, they returned, once again, to England. As she considered picking up her job search again, Susannah realized that she no longer loved advertising and that the demanding hours were making it impossible to balance her family life. Another decision beckoned.
So, Susannah drew on what she knew best and started an online community - "Our Tribe Travels" - for families who love independent travel. It's gone from zero to over a thousand members - and national press coverage - in a matter of months.
Susannah talked to us about her journey:
What is it you love about travel? What made you think you could “do” that for a living?
It’s hard to pin it down to one thing, but the key for me are people. I love meeting locals and getting under the skin of their culture. Being able to inspire others to try a new style of family travel and to help answer questions on their fears is something I find very satisfying.
Over the years, through my original blog or via friends, people have asked for my advice on traveling with children. I realized that I particularly enjoy meeting people staying in hostels & home-stays who share my passion for travel - I get a real kick from sharing my knowledge and inspiring people to try something different.
"Our Tribe Travels" grew from my belief that travel advice sites and review sites have become too mass. I wanted to empower those families who dreamed of traveling to countries out of their comfort zone, but needed help with planning. Our community has "been there, done that", so we share itineraries, places to visit and accommodation recommendations. Being a global community also means families can tap into local knowledge, something they may otherwise find it hard to do.
It takes guts to put yourself out there as leading a community, let alone finding the time to do it….so what made you go from giving individuals information to setting up something bigger?
I was incredibly nervous about starting the online community. Once you've released it to your friends and family you feel as though you can't back out of it. I think that's why it's taken me so long to finally do it; the fear of failure was stopping me from taking action.
I was also procrastinating because my website was homemade and basic. Yet, I've had a lot of support from my friends and my former colleagues who have given me advice along the way, many of whom urged me simply to "start".
What sacrifices have you had to overcome to be where you are today?
The biggest thing I’ve sacrificed is stability, both financial and in terms of my daily routine.
It would have been a lot easier to stay within my comfort zone and secure a part-time or full-time position in the advertising industry. Working with multiple departments is very different from sitting alone in your kitchen for hours on end. It pushes you to believe in yourself and your capabilities to make an idea come to life.
Do you miss anything from your advertising career?
I miss the buzz of working in a dynamic environment and the satisfaction of seeing big projects come to life. I've made some great friends over the years through my jobs so that's definitely something I miss. Oh, and I do miss having the independence that comes from having your own salary!
Although what I'm doing now is different from my advertising career there are plenty of elements that cross over, such as having the confidence to pick up the phone to anyone, creative thinking, multi-tasking, planning ahead and networking. Having a new challenge is exciting and even more so because I'm following my dream.
What has been the most joyful part about this new experience you’re making for yourself? Has it all been worth it?
Seeing the positive feedback about the ‘Our Tribe Travels’ idea from the community - people are very engaged and are offering fantastic advice and personal recommendations. Seeing my vision come to life is amazing!
What would you say to women who are considering making a leap into something new?
Focus on what you love doing as you need to enjoy the time you spend working. The starting point of my project is community-based, so I need to answer questions and monitor the content that is posted, sometimes on an hourly basis, including weekends. If I didn’t truly enjoy what I was doing then this would be a hindrance, not a joy.
I would also say ‘go for it’. I kept putting off my idea because I don’t like my website, wasn’t sure if the idea was good enough and was generally too scared to start. Sometimes you just need to get it out there because once you’re committed you have to keep going and do your best to make it work.