Read about how founder of Gobi Gear, Chez Brungraber, turned down a big finance job in NYC to follow her dreams.
I just finished hiking 436 miles. I have been going almost nonstop since March 1. This is my job, and I love it.
Even when my eyes sting from the sweat, my feet are bruised, and I am so tired after a day of hiking that I literally cannot stand anymore, I still want more.
I search for wildflowers and wildlife during the spring months as an environmental consultant. I spend my time outside, getting paid to hike around the wilderness, looking at nature.
The journey and data collection along the way are what matters. There is no end destination.
This is my job, and I love it.
Dream jobs are a big thing these days. Chris Guillebeau is searching for people who have their dream jobs. And with the ability to telecommute, its becoming more of a reality to at least travel and work at the same time.
But it wasn't always this way.
Growing up I was groomed for Wall Street. I had a path laid out for me. I looked forward to the day I would have a big career, making "big" decisions in the city.
When I was in high school and then college, I ran my own landscaping business. It didn’t matter so much that it was landscaping, but rather that it was any business. Or at least, that is what I thought back then - business is business.
It would be a simple transition, then, from college to Wall Street. I knew the right people, who interviewed me and offered me great positions in their firms. I had business experience and a drive to do well in business, so why not? I couldn't run a landscaping business forever, I thought.
From finance to… botany?
How does one groomed for Wall Street end up covered in sunscreen, dust, and sweat in the California deserts? And, why, oh why, turn down the big bucks for a meager biologist’s salary?
Traveling. Seeing the world. Being outdoors.
See, I always loved being outside, and enjoyed all the traveling I had done with my family. But I figured that was play time, and later would be career time.
In college I took a semester abroad in Kenya. Learned about wildlife and studied the African grasslands from a fire ecology and botanical perspective. After returning to the USA a different person, I realized that I wanted to see MORE of the world, EXPERIENCE more of it.
But I knew I needed a job after college, and I knew that traveling the world would not be free for me, so I maintained the idea - I held on so tightly to the idea - that a finance job to fund the lifestyle I wanted.
After graduating from Bucknell in 2004, I pursued the path laid our for me and received not one, but two, really great job offers on Wall Street. Big salaries, even bigger bonuses if I did well.
This was exactly what I thought wanted – a big job, with big money, to fund the lifestyle I wanted.
And then I bailed.
Talk about impulsive decisions.
Something just wasn't right. It wasn't adding up. If I wanted a life outside, where I could travel, why go into finance? And where did I think the vacation time would come from? I felt a bit like this guy, walking head first into a disaster.
I took a year to think it over. Called it a “sabbatical”.
I lived out of my car, couch surfing across America, meeting new people, visiting all the national parks in the west that had always intrigued me. Flew to Hawaii, Costa Rica, and other places to surf. Stayed in Colorado to ski. Took this time to ground myself, prepare mentally for a "real career" - meaning less playtime and more serious, working, making money time.
I went into debt for all this traveling, but hey, I had a big job lined up so that didn't bother me.
But it was too late to turn back
I’m sure many travelers will agree, cross one place off your list, you add 10 more pop in its place. I had visited Zion National Park in Utah, but now what about Arches, and all the other parks I didn't have time to see yet?
You'll recognize the travelbug, the wanderlust, the insatiable appetite to meet new cultures, see now places. The world is so HUGE. Its so DIVERSE.
I realized any job I took would have to give me the freedom to travel. Without that, I couldn’t do it, even for the money.
The good news is that I already had a few years experience running my own business at this point, and figured I could probably make ends meet.
And found my dream job
I moved to California, went to grad school, got a Master’s Degree, and continued my business of working outside.
I became an environmental consultant, specializing in botany and wildlife. Not only does this job put me outside when I work, but it also gives me the freedom to take several months off each year.
(I work here - above: Catalina Island; wildflower field in eastern San Diego County)
I choose the path of more freedom, because that was how I measured happiness.
In my spare time I travel a bit less these days, and work on Gobi Gear a bit more, but I enjoy every second of that as well. Someday I hope it can pay my bills, but for now, we reinvest to keep bringing you new products and better quality.
Backpacker Magazine just made a list of some great ways to work outside, so be sure to read up on it if its your thing!
What's your dream job? Please share with us here!