Have you ever dreamed about ditching the daily grind to start a new life on the other side of the planet? Sherry Ott was living the Sex in the City lifestyle as an IT executive in New York, but gave it all up to travel the globe and pursue her passions.
Sherry took a career break to re-evaluate her life and see the world. Today, three years later, she’s a teacher, photographer, and writer based in Vietnam. She’s also a blogger who started a website to help other corporate casualties plan career breaks to recharge their batteries and/or explore new directions.
If you’re a nomad at heart or just feeling stuck in a rut, Sherry’s story might just inspire you to start packing your bags.
1) Tell us a little bit about your corporate career path.
I worked in IT Management positions for 14 years. It was a career that I kind of fell into thanks to timing and a few good breaks. I studied accounting and business (MBA), then took an accounting job when I graduated in 1992 (yes, I’m old) . Thanks to timing, I ended up doing computer training work since I was the only person at my company who had any familiarity with PC’s, networks, and Windows 3.1 (remember – it was 1992). Hence, my IT career was launched.
I moved from job to job, state to state; always climbing the corporate ladder. More responsibility, better titles, more money…more headaches. Soon I was a in a senior leadership position at a large international retailer in New York City, running a department of project managers, analysts, and developers. Everything a fashionista career girl would ever want — right? I had the Sex in the City lifestyle; career, social life, free samples, money, a great apartment, and no one to think about but myself.
2) What made you decide to change careers?
As my career responsibilities grew, so did my stress and unhappiness. I looked back at my career and wondered “How did I end up here? “ I enjoyed using technology, but I didn’t LOVE bits and bytes. At the same time, the IT world was changing so fast that I never felt I could keep up with it, which left me feeling completely insecure in my own abilities. No one wants to go to work in a high-powered job feeling insecure — it’s a recipe for disaster.
Looking back, I realize that I was investing all of my emotions and time in my job because I really had no where else to put it. It’s not that I ever wanted to be married or have kids. However, like many single people, I developed a disproportionate attachment to my job as I didn’t have any other place to put my passion. The problem is that a job never loves you back — it’s an unhealthy relationship.
So I was 36 years old, living a life most people would want, and I was completely burned out. The stress was no longer worth the salary. read more…