What Quitting My Job to Live on a Sailboat Taught Me About Fulfillment
Spending all my energy on the bottom tiers of Maslow’s Hierarchy has given me new appreciation for what’s at the top
Two years ago, my wife and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. We had full-time corporate jobs, a car, and a busy life full of friends and work.
Today, we live on a sailboat. For the past 18 months, we’ve been sailing and traveling in Central America. We’re fully responsible for our health, safety, and comfort. If we don’t feel like cooking dinner, we can’t grab a phone and order delivery. Instead of a paycheck, we live off our investments, supplemented by income from writing and other projects.
A lot of big stuff hasn’t changed. Michelle and I are still happily married. I have the same great friends. I’m still myself, with my same interests and values. But over the past two years, I’ve nearly completely changed the circumstances of my life.
Why? As the decision slips into the past, it becomes harder to say. Here’s my best shot: I wanted a big life reset, a chance to wipe away the accidental habits, commitments, and aspects of my identity that had stuck over the years.
I wasn’t trying to escape. No, life was very good. But I had taken hold of an idea, a dream, a fantasy. After 15 years of “normal,” I yearned for something different.
Since my early twenties, when a friend lent me a book about “cruising” (traveling by sailboat), I was intrigued by the possibilities of living aboard. By our mid-thirties, my wife and I were approaching career plateaus and looking for a change. We were experienced sailors, and despite our travels, we’re homebodies at heart, so the idea of traveling with our home really appealed to us. This idea, this vision of sailing away, seemed to click. After years of planning and saving, in 2017 we gave up our apartment, sold most of our stuff, bought a boat, and sailed out of San Francisco Bay with no particular destination in mind.
The changes I’ve experienced since leaving San Francisco are not good or bad. Some of them led to breakthroughs and new behaviors, while others have simply made me more grateful for the conveniences…