Part 1 – Quit your job and take a long vacation.


Catchy headline and exactly what I did. I left my job at an up and coming web agency in Vancouver where I was in negotiations for partnership, ya that’s right. So let’s back up here for a moment and get some context. 

I had been working a large telco [TELUS] as an creative director for the in house web marketing team. It was roughly four years into that great job when  I was offered a job with promise of partnership at the talented up and coming agency that I had been outsourcing design and production to a couple of years. The offer sounded great and I knew the partners very well from working so closely with for the past 2.5 years on the TELUS projects. I thought about it, and thought about it, I mean it was a drop in salary and there are the large risks involved with joining a small agency after all right?. I conferred with my wife and decided to take the plunge into the agency side of life.

It was March 8th when I moved into the new role and it felt great and exciting to be part of a young agency that was making is way up the food chain nicely. Soon I would be part owner of this shop and that was even more exciting. The major life miles stone of turning 40 was fast approaching and this was a great way to usher in the ‘second half’ I thought.

Agency life was great and I was working on awesome projects, there was beer in the fridge and a giant LCD screen in the board room for Guitar Hero Fridays. There were the business and awards show trips to NY, SF, Toronto to name a few. Sounds great right? Well it was but that feeling started to fade and I became restless again. “Wait come back here great feeling of being successful and on my way up in the world” I quietly said to myself more than a few times. But no it would not return and I was faced with making some more hard choices, yet again.

The thing was that I had gone from being a creative director to account executive/strategist and that title just never really sat very well with me I guess. Every time I saw my business card I thought that doesn’t sound right to me. So those restless and unfulfilled feelings began to grow into an ever louder white noise in my head. But I had just sprinted across the 40 year mark planning to not look back. The was also this thing called rent and all that I to deal with, so I was feeling kind of fucked. How embarrassing to tell everyone that the partner thing at the cool agency wasn’t working out. I guess it’s kind of like calling off the wedding just before the big day. Oh wait ya it does feel a little like that as I have done that too.

So while driving back from a weekend stay in Seattle to take Noah to the Woodland Zoo I decided to run the whole “quitting my job” idea passed Denise. I have not quit many things in life so I was not sure how proceed with the bad news. About the half way point between Seattle and Vancouver while eating our Taco Bell drive through I turned to Denise and said with a stutter in my voice ‘Um I think I have to quit…” and without pause she cut me off with “Your job!?”. Huh? Wow talk about finishing my sentences, that was impressive. I knew there was a reason that married this amazing woman! That was a hell of a lot easier than I thought it was gonna be. She asked me only one thing in return…”Please take at least two weeks off between gigs this time would ya?”. Sure I could do that I thought. Two weeks would be easy to take off and it would be summer so ya I can do that for you and Noah. Well by the time we got to the border the two weeks had turned into two months and a major hit to the down payment on our dream home. It was going to be either Spain or Japan and that choice would come later when we did a little more digging on what would be better for a family with a five year old.

So now I had an endorsement from my wife to quit my job but what the hell was I going to do? Get another job or go solo…I had no clue. Both had pluses and minuses and I needed time to figure it out. So I told the partners that I was going to be “moving on” as it were and that once the projects I was manager were wrapped up I head out. I informed them that I was going to go on a trip and figure out the rest of my life. It did not feel like a mid life crisis on the inside but I imagine it sure did to the 20 something owners and employees of the agency. What ever it was there just was no stopping the feeling, so I dealt with it the only way I new how.

I did my time and finished up a big job for a bank in Alberta and transitioned  my other other clients to the new guy Patrick. As the end of June approached I was alive with excitement. We had decided that Spain was going to be the lucky country to receive us and the only thing between me and my ice cold cerveza in the sun was performing best man duties for my dear friend Jonathan. It was so close I could taste it. 

So the 27th hit and I was out of there. No looking back and no real plans looking forward. This was going to be either the best or worst thing thing I ever did. Regardless it would be an exciting ride that’s for sure.

So that’s my advice to anyone that has the white noise of discontent ringing in their ears. Get out and change the situation. What happens next will only be better that what you are dealing with today regardless.

To be continued…


Photo copyright JP Holecka


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