How Bikinis Bali and a Boy Helped Me Figure Out My Career - Part 2

 Read part 1 here. So I meet this guy, on a beach in South Boston, the last Sunday in April who asks me if I want to move to Mallorca with him.

I stare at him blankly and then assume he's pulling my leg. Why? Because not many people know where Mallorca is. It happens to be the largest of the Balearic Islands off the eastern coast of Spain, in the middle of the Med. People always stare at me blankly when I tell them I lived there.

Apparently it's also home to amazing rock climbing. While I had been rock climbing for the past 6 or so months at this point, I had no idea that it was such a mecca for rock climbers. Turns out James + his crew are HUGE rock climbers (but this point comes later in our conversation.) Without knowing all this, I just assumed he was pulling my leg.

We spend the day on the beach and the rest of the evening at a friend's house, eating dinner with new yogi and rock climbing amigos. (I'll leave it at this because how dinner went is a whole other story. Involving faux engagements and faux engagement photos. For real.)

So now that you know, I've finally met the boy who holds a key  part of this story.  And from this point, end of April 2009 til mid-August 2009, a majority of our conversations revolve around travel. Yes, we barely know each other. Yes, we just met. But that's how we roll.

From the moment we met, travel dominated some majority of our conversations. And as we still kept hanging out, our plans got bigger and bigger. At some point in the conversation, he threw out this idea of Round the World Travel (RTW.) And I can't for the life of me remember my response (probably skeptical.)

Why? Because well...who the hells knows. In hindsight, it probably wasn't a valid reason. And I suppose it's all moot now that we've done it, made it even bigger than planned AND lived to tell about it.

So yes, from the point at which we met, to the point at which we bought a four continent RTW trip tix was two and a half months. Then we left one month later, a mere three and a half months after meeting.

Allow me to bring you up to speed on the career part of my life at this point. It was stagnant. Since the fall of 2008, I had been looking for a job. But with the collapsing economy, nobody was hiring and in hindsight, things just went from bad to worse. As you might imagine, I felt like I was banging my head against a wall. First interviews that led to second interview that led to months of silence from a potential employer.

Why? Because jobs in higher ed where I was looking, were put on a hiring freeze. I kept getting so close and then nothing would happen. And the applicant pool for each job was growing. So around the late springtime, I decided to take time off from looking. It was driving me bonkers and I clearly needed a new strategy. I was lucky to have the freedom to do that and my plan was to regroup in the fall.

Total freedom to do lots of yoga, rock climb and meet a boy. Then take off on trip around the world. It made perfect sense to me.

I actually remember thinking and saying to my mom, just before we left, "I'm so excited for what will happen when I get back. Who I will be. What experiences I will have had. What I will want to do."

Little did I know....

Our original plan to travel the world was for six months. And then we were going to live in Mallorca (turns out the boy actually did want to move to Mallorca and rock climb.) All told, we'd be back stateside in nine months.

Johanna Voss

Johanna Voss

Johanna Voss

Johanna Voss

We set off and flew first to England to visit some of my family. Then we went to Spain for a few days. From there we went to Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, New Zealand and Australia. We went to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, China and India.

Johanna Voss

Johanna Voss

Johanna Voss

Oh and our trip turned out to last for eleven months, not, ahem, six as planned.

And while we were in China, I finally was able to answer "the" question that had been on my mind since, well, for a long time.

"What will I do with my life?"

You can only imagine for someone who was so used to working 14 hour days, 7 days a week, that swinging in completely the opposite direction to lounging on a gorgeous beach in Spain, as I did beginning in March of 2008, took some getting used to. And it did. I mean, I enjoy working. I like earning a paycheck.  So after the first few weeks of being in Spain (during which you can tell yourself if its vacation) when I transitioned into, "now-this-is-my-life" were definitely challenging.

But don't worry, I was able to overcome those challenges and totally enjoy myself. No problem. I had earned it. So now, fast forward to the spring of 2010 and I was sooo ready to work. Not to be confused with not wanting to travel. No no, I knew that our trip would eventually wrap up and I would find myself back on North American soil (or so I thought.)

I embraced the fact that I needed to and wanted to go back into the work force. As I mentioned above, I enjoy working at something which interests me. I like using my brain. I enjoy being a contributing member of society. And yup, I like money going into the bank account, not just leaving it!

But like most people, I could not for the life of me, answer this question "what will I do with my life?" I knew what I was good at. I knew what I wasn't good at as well as the work situation that I didn't want to be in...but how to translate that into a job/career.

The million dollar question right?


Well one day while we were in China, I was skyping with a good friend of mine. She mentioned this nutrition, health coaching program that she had enrolled in at the Institute of Integrative Nutrtition. Upon hearing her tell me about it for 15 or so minutes, I knew immediately that was my next move. It was a perfect fit and allowed me to create a job environment that I was looking for - being my own boss, creating my own lifestyle, mobile and flexibility.

Throughout all my crazy political adventures and traveling, it was always apparent that I was quite interested in wellness. Having been active my whole life and always having eaten well, I was "that person" for my friends. Now, to learn that I could dole out advice and guide others to make healthier decisions to find their healthy, happy sweet spot AND get paid for it? I was all in.

So I went back to school, got certified and launched my own Health Coaching Business, Johanna Voss Coaching in the spring of 2011.  Since then, I haven't looked back.

Here's some of what I learned about myself and life during that time:

1. The world truly was my oyster.

2. The quote "A mind stretched by new horizons can never return to it's old dimensions" is so true.

3. I thrive on being outside of my comfort zone. New food? Sure, I'll try it once. New adventure? I'm in. New language? Let's learn a few words.

4. Sitting on a (gorgeous) beach in Bali while wearing a bikini made me realize not to sweat the small stuff.

5. I can do anything I want. Anything.

6. I actually don't need that many haircuts to survive. (I had two in the whole two years that we were traveling. But you wouldn't have really known that.)

7. I'm way tougher than I had realized.

8. I'm an entrepreneur. Huh, who knew?

I realize that I have no way of knowing what I would be doing career and life-wise had I not met my man and took off on a trip around the world (for a year) and then lived in Barcelona (for another year.) I'd like to think that I would have found myself  doing something similar because it just feels so right. But we'll never know.

Either way, I know that travel helped me get to where I am now.  We've only just begun.

You can also come hear more about my story on October 16th at 6:15pm. I'm speaking at Meet. Plan. Go. Boston's event.

If you are tired of two weeks of vacation time and want to break away from the cube to explore the world, then don’t miss out on this event!

Date: Tuesday, October 16th | Doors: 6:15pm Elephant & Castle Pub | 161 Devonshire St (b/t Franklin St & Milk St)

Click HERE for more information and tickets.

You can also click here to read more about our RTW trip.