Could you give up a $95,000 a year job to make $10 an hour scooping ice cream? It's a question a lot of people were asking themselves after reading the story of Noelle Hancock, which was published in Cosmopolitan.
Noelle, a Yale graduate, was a lot like other women living in Manhattan. She worked hard as a journalist, but struggled to find a work-life balance. She often said to herself, "I need a vacation." Four years ago, Noelle decided to take a permanent vacation. She quit her job, sold everything, and bought a one-way ticket to the Caribbean.
Permanent vacation on a Caribbean island
Against the wishes of her parents, Noelle moved to St. John, an island where she had no connections. She quickly found happiness with her new, simpler lifestyle. When Noelle finished her daily shift at the ice cream parlor, she was able to disconnect from work and focus on the things she wanted to. All of the stress that consumed her while living in New York was gone.
As Noelle's story went viral, many wondered how she could walk away from everything she had worked so hard for.
"The American dream can-- and should-- look different for different people. And it should mean personal fulfillment and passion, not yardsticks of achievement," says clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, Ph.D.
Bonior recommends taking a moment to answer the following questions:
- What did you dream of as a child?
- What's on your bucket list?
- How can you make your life more fulfilling?
If you don't know where to start, Bonior suggests exploring new interests, traveling, volunteer work, or perhaps a new career. All of these things, she says, can bring your daily life closer to your real values.
"If you think 'I wish I could do that!' about making a major life change, but think there's no way, think about whether your fears are grounded in reality. Are you worried so much about what you'd be letting go of that you don't think about what you'd be gaining?" says Bonior.
As for Noelle, her gutsy move appears to have paid off. In the Cosmopolitan article, she embraces the concept of "micro lives," which simply means being able to pack up and go every few years. In fact, a move may be just around the corner for Noelle. She said she's thinking about purchasing another one-way ticket, perhaps to Europe.