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  • Carrin Robertson

When Life Got Flipped-Turned Upside Down

(For reading purposes, just pretend like I posted this yesterday..)


Yesterday marks one year exactly since I applied to work as a Designer at UPAVIM.

And today marks exactly one day since my friends and I were made redundant from Creative Services.


What a difference a year makes. I guess anything is possible with a little bit of planning, some coffee and, eventually, the guts to go for it. Travel, adventures, new friends and feeling like the work I'm doing is actually making a social difference too, means I'm loads happier than I was a year ago. I wasn't hugely unhappy as I'm not the mopey type, but I definitely was stuck in a rut and just a bit "meh"


So, want to travel? Here's How to Plan a Working Sabbatical


Step 1: Plan

Hang out with your pal Abel, drink copious amounts of rocket-fuel coffee.

Decide that you’re both going to do amazing things with your lives. Make a list of mostly unrealistic goals of what you’d like to achieve over the next year. On my list I included things like “learn conversational Italian”, “run 5K every week” and “date great humans".


Do absolutely none of these things.


Step 2: Actually Plan

Also add “plan working sabbatical”

Actually do this one.


Step 3: Where?

Choose a place/list of place you’d like to go to for adventures and work. I chose Guatemala because the main language is Spanish, meaning I didn’t have to do that “learn conversational Italian” thing, just refresh my language skills (It’s also STUNNING and I’m a geek for Mayan architecture so… yeah)


Step 4: (Ok- I’m going to stop the sarcastic tone now..) Work?

Use the internet to look for jobs in the place and job you’d like to work. This one is actually really, bloody important- choose something you’re actually 100% genuinely passionate about.

There are loads and loads of “Teaching English Abroad” programs- which is all great if that’s your thing. I on the other hand have little interest in teaching, mostly because of the idea of keeping the attention of a room full of . small humans and having to have a plan and be responsible for more than one child at a time… well, fills me with terror. I applaud teachers!


DESIGN and BEING CREATIVE and MAKING THINGS on the other hand- fills me with the most joy you can imagine.


So- I googled “design” and “Guatemala” on LinkedIn and there you have it, up popped UPAVIM. The internet is your friend- type in a bunch of words that will make your dream come true and it probably exists.


Steps 5, 6 ,7, 8, 9 & 10: Do the Work & Allow Serendipitous Magic to Step In

Go on what had now become an annual trip to Barcelona to party with pals at Primavera Festival, feel a little out of sorts when I know should be having the best time ever.


Come back to London, go to work... feel like something's not quite right anymore either. Bit of a weird vibe (sadly, as I loved it). Apply for design job in Guatemala Sunday evening.


Return to work on Monday and get made redundant from current job at Creative Services with immediate effect (eeek, weirdly serendipitous and simultaneously horrible as the company completely shut down).


Have various panic attacks about not having a job, but feel oddly liberated- like a big rug has been pulled out from under me. Ultimately try to enjoy the sunshine whilst being unemployed with no savings.


Get offered Guatemalan job! Also get offered short-term freelance Project Manager job at Millingtons.


Accept both and celebrate whilst quietly still not knowing what I'm doing.


Step 11: Change Your Mind

Swing between really wanting to go, and on the other hand thinking I’m too old to be doing things like this. Also panic a fair bit about personal safety as Guatemala is pretty dangerous in comparison to Acton. Decide it’s best to stay in London. After all, all my friends are here.


Step 12: Change Your Mind (Again) & Commit.

Come to the conclusion to stop being ridiculous and that I actually really do want to move to Guatemala- and commit to the decision. Knowing that I could always just come home.


Step 13: Get on Plane

Fly to Toronto and Texas and then land in new fun country and after a few ups and downs, realise its the best decision I've ever made.


Wanderlust wins.


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