Joining us from Thailand, Hallie Jaeger left Chicago in 2014 to follow her passion for adventure and to satisfy her wanderlust. She is the first in our new series, Why Did You Go?, which will highlight those who left the 9-5 corporate lifestyle to do something different with their life.
Find out why they left, what inspired them and where they are now!
What type of job did you work prior to leaving?
Prior to leaving I worked for a fantastic employee owned and operated company which handles association management. I was on the sales team as a senior sales coordinator on management career track. Day to day, I conversed with executive level vendors to “sell” them on investing in client association assets through conference sponsorship, publication advertising, exhibit space, and online deliverables.
I did feel as if I was helping contribute to good causes in some way since the client associations were similar to a non-profit,. The clients spanned from senior living industry, logistics, local food procurement to healthcare, so everyday was an overload of information that became a battle to mange. Despite this, the office and company culture were superior and I greatly cared about the staff teams I worked with.
I had lost the gumption I needed to hit my $2.3 million sales budget. I knew I had to stop worrying about financial security, leave the comfort of my extraordinary downtown Chicago view and corner cubicle, because my passions were no longer aligned with the work I was doing.
American business mogul John D Rockefeller said:
“Don’t be afraid to leave something good to pursue something great.”
This became my mantra.
When did you first consider leaving the 9-5 to GO?
I was born to travel, so the 9 to 5 job isn’t in my blood.
I believe a lifetime of hard work ethic, engrained by my parents, lead me to interviewing with corporate america during college and then societal pressures of “get the job, become the executive, find the man, have the baby, buy the house” set in. Day by day, this mentality gnawed at my soul.
I should mention that I was extremely close to joining the peace corps post college, but the promise of career, salary, 401k and excitement of moving to Orange County CA lured me into the 9 to 5.
If I could have all the time back that I spent thinking and planning for adventure, reading travel blogs, imagining myself racing through other countries, exploring new cultures, I’d be running one of those companies I worked the desk job for…. I spent a lot of time dreaming instead of doing.
I don’t regret any of my work accomplishments. I learned sales tactics to benefit me professionally and personally. Gradually over the past six years of the grind, my free spirit flew me higher and higher towards travel until I could no longer land.
Thus, it’s safe to say I’ve been flying free and considering leaving my 9 to 5 since 4:30 pm of my first 40 hour work week.
What was your biggest fear/obstacle you faced before leaving?
As mentioned above, the fear holding me back from extended travel was not my day job but FOMO: the fear of missing out. I did not want to miss the bachelorette parties, birthdays, graduations, funerals, dinners with friends, live band karaoke on Sunday nights, cuddle time with the boy toy, ladies night out, and everything that had to do with missing my family and friends and being involved with their lives.
Also, at times when I was bored at work and could have easily pick up and left, I had been involved in relationships with men far less adventurous than I.
Love can change your priorities, but does not silence that voice inside telling you to go!
What made you finally ‘just GO’?
“The breaking point” sad to say, was “the break up”.
I broke up with my love, my career, and my city.
I endured a very intense, passionate relationship which was marriage bound, with a contentious partner, with whom I had even planned a RTW trip, but life has a mysterious way of working the kinks out.
The same week I announced to him I was moving out of our gorgeous apartment and home, my sister returned from Ghana with enticing photos and a fantastic new outlook on life. She was radiant, refreshed and grateful, and I wanted everything to do with her adventures and nothing to do with my own life.
When I jumped into the African skirt and headdress she brought back for me, something in my spirit exploded. Thanks to her little nudge, my adventure genes took over and the next morning I applied to the mirror foundation’s Thailand volunteer program. For ten weeks, I endured the most contumelious, yet sanguine time of my life: ending a future with “the one”, leaving a promising career path, and saying goodbye to my friends and family in Chicago. Nonetheless, it was all worth it for the exhilarating travel and volunteer life I am currently living.
Where are you now and what are you doing?
I have been volunteering in the northernmost province of Thailand, ChiangRai, in the mountain jungle, teaching English to the hill tribe children for the mirror foundation. Everyday, the children’s smiles, or the way they say “hello teacher” and especially their eagerness to learn is completely inspiring. Beyond teaching children, the simplicity of life and respect for nature has transformed how I will live my life when I do settle somewhere in the future. Each day here, I am exuberant to be active and present in each moment. I keep a blog outlining moments of ebullience, in which I am so grateful to be alive, EEEEE, and there is such a plethora of these experiences that I cannot keep up with my posts.
After Thailand, I head to Hong Kong, Bali, Koh Phi Phi, home for the holidays and then down to South America until my travel fund is diminished. I still do consider the US “home”, and I will need to get a job to revamp my life budget but traveling gives you more reason to work efficiently, and detach from material things.
People back home often ask me (exasperated) “what are you going to do with your life!? Like I am living an unreality, upside down or backwards. This question implies that I am not living right now, which is quite the opposite.
Because I had the courage to be independent and love myself first,
because I believe in following my passions over living a corporate career for someone else,
because I am not afraid to be outside the box and enjoy expanding my comfort zone,
I am living the fullest life I possibly can imagine and I trust no matter where I am, who I’m with, or what I will be doing, I will be greater off for this experience, this lifestyle, beyond’ around and over the9 to 5.
A tremendous thanks to an experience seeker, a dreamer, a doer, a constant inspirer, my best friend and travel spirit, Care. If it were not for your courage to leave it all in the first place, I would not be following your foot steps, living the best, most adventurous life I could possibly imagine. For your common sense, innocence, joy and positive energy, I am eternally grateful.
Kahp Kuhn kahh!
Did you come from a 9-5 work environment and find yourself ‘just going’ to pursue a passion? Help inspire others by sharing your story about why you left.