Today was the day, the day it became real for me. I have resigned and let my team know that I will be leaving my position to go hike the Appalachian Trail. It has been a tough day to say the least. I’m not leaving work because I hate the job or because I got a better one. I’m leaving because I have the opportunity to do something amazing that I have wanted to do for a very long time. I’m not being pushed out but rather pulled away. As John Muir famously said, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” The time is right for my family and I to go on this journey together. I’ll be the one hiking and they’ll hold down the fort while I’m away. So while I’m sad at this chapter of my life nearing an end, I’m thoroughly excited for what lies ahead.
The obvious question from most folks is, “Why would you do that?” I’ve endeavored to do that in a past post but let me revise that list a bit.
- I need to do this for myself. Having worked the past 20 years or so, I’ve spent relatively little time on myself. I’ve focused on being a provider, earning a salary, and giving my family the best life, monetarily, that I can. That has come at a cost and I need to focus on myself. This is not about some grandiose purpose of “finding myself”, it’s a simple need to just be me. The person who has been a successful leader in a business setting is not all that I am.
- I need to prove to myself that I can do it. I’ve talked about doing a lot of things with my life but, other than raising my beautiful minions, probably none as physically and mentally arduous as the AT. I don’t want to look back on my life with a list of things I wished I had done. Hiking the Appalachian Trail has been a dream of mine and I need to do it. It’s hard to explain in words how strongly I’m drawn to this challenge.
- I need to improve my physical and mental health. I’m not in fantastic shape – although far better than I was 18 months ago when I started training. I have been overweight for most of my adult life and it is time to change that. I want to be around for a long time for my wife and kids so it’s time to get my ass in gear. I also need to focus on my mental health. I’m no stranger to anxiety and depression and I need the space to heal. Some time away from the stress and fast pace of the modern professional world will give me that.
So for all these reasons and more, I’m hanging up my work clothes for a bit and walking in the woods instead. This was not an easy decision nor one that was made quickly. It has taken me well over a year to get to this point. I am saddened to leave behind a great group of people but I know that this is the right path for me. I thank you all for the hard work and dedication, for the technical debates, and for the laughs over the years. I am honored and humbled to have been part of your team.
If you would like to follow along, you can find me on various social media platforms:
Twitter: @chrishendrick, @TheMidlifeHiker
And of course, because I’ll be back in the job market in the fall:
Wish me luck!