Have you ever met someone who left their career to pursue a wild, unknown adventure? Odds are, the ubiquitous workplace movement known as The Great Resignation has connected you with a coworker who hung up their laptop bag to take an unexpected journey.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail. Traipsing through Latin America. Starting a new business.
I’ve had friends and coworkers do all of the above recently; I’m sure you can relate. And if there’s one thing The Great Resignation teaches us, it’s that many career paths aren’t a straight line. While sharing that farewell coffee or reading that “goodbye” email from a colleague, have you ever wondered, “What would it be like if I left?” or “What will my life look like if I stay?”
The large number of people who’ve recently changed careers or taken unexpected detours in their professional trajectory has created a moment of reckoning for many of us. A moment when we hum along to The Clash’s punk rock anthem, “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”
How have you navigated that question? Can you identify what it is you REALLY want when you desire to stay or go? What purpose or value can you find in your work, no matter where you are?
To help you answer these questions, I’d like to introduce you to two hobbits who traveled Middle Earth and a young professional who ventured to middle Europe.
Perhaps the most famous literary examples of adventure-on-the-road are found in Frodo and Sam, from Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Most of us are familiar with the story—small, unassuming hobbits help save the world with the aid of unlikely friends. But do you know how the story ends? In short, both hobbits settle down. The final book of the series depicts a travel-weary, victorious Frodo sailing off to his final resting place in lands beyond the ocean. Sam—Frodo’s fiercely brave friend and guardian—goes home, sits for a meal with his family, and rests.
Tolkien writes, “[Sam] drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.”
And that’s how this epic tale ends. A little surprising, isn’t it? Most of us think of Frodo and Sam fighting Orcs, traversing treacherous territory, or ascending Mount Doom. However, with lives enriched by their journeys abroad, Tolkien depicts the two main heroes of this story finding joy and solace by finally putting down roots.
The upshot is this: the destination is JUST AS VALUABLE as the journey.
In other words, there’s purpose found in going AND staying.