Get rid of everything to find yourself

Get rid of everything to find yourself

At the age of 39, Kim Brown sold a successful business that she had been building for eight years, bought a yacht and sailed around the world with her husband and three-year-old daughter.
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In her article on she talks about why she did it and how she did it.

In high school, my teacher said I would be lucky to get a job at McDonald's. My parents were too mired in their own problems to be interested in my life, and my friends were mainly engaged in honing the art of alcohol consumption. By 18, I was wondering why life sucks.

Fortunately, I was a teenager who grew up on the northern outskirts of New York State, and my fate was sealed.

I was programmed to finish high school, go to university, get a job, find a life partner, have kids, and work and pay my taxes until I died.

That's what I did - I went down a beaten path. I wasn't really caring as a teenager, and I didn't realize that I might have some other future. I learned one thing very well: you have to get a higher education to get a good job.

By the time I was 20, I knew there was some other, better way to live my life. On reflection, I determined that the secret to happiness is money. I decided to prove that my schoolteacher was wrong about me, to show my parents that I was worth their attention. I worked full time to pay for my education. After changing three universities and getting mired in student loans, I finally got a degree in business management, a specialty chosen by those who don't know what they want from life.

By the time I graduated, I had high grades, and in an academic sense I was pretty smart. Thanks to the job, I had a good experience in real life. When I got my diploma, I started climbing the ladder of success. I started out as an administrator, grew up to be a manager, then to be a director, and eventually became president of an IT services company. Being the head of a company was cool, but I realized that I didn't have any real power - I was pulled by the strings of the board. So I decided to start my own business.

In 2004 I opened a currency exchange firm in London (I married a British man and ended up in England). Banks in the UK profited from exchange rate differences, so anyone who bought property in France in euros overpaid about a thousand pounds. I was picking a more acceptable rate for my clients. In eight years, the company has grown from two man-owners to 50 employees, and its turnover was half a billion pounds. I became a millionaire and I had to feel successful, right? But no. I didn't feel successful.

It took me eight years to force myself to do something I didn't like. I was totally uninterested in currencies, their exchange rates, or anything related to the currency markets. What could have been more boring than that? The company that I set up attracted a certain type of employees, suppliers and partners who magnified money. Deep down, I am one of those spiritually concerned people who rescue wounded animals, clean up other people's garbage in the park, and like to philosophize about the true meaning of life.

The man I had to become to run a currency firm was a fake. I was an alien in my own body.

I had to sit in meetings and pretend to be interested. I had to have tough negotiations that didn't make any sense to me. And yes, I had to defend myself against a hordes of professionals making money suing everyone. And that's what you call success?

Fortunately, I got a big kick in the ass. In 2010, I gave birth to a daughter and the day she was born, my world changed. I looked at her and realized that I had a lot to change so that she wouldn't be in the same situation as me in the future. My world was out of control. I told my business partner that I wanted to leave. Our breakup with him was like a divorce. My leaving the business was one of the worst moments of my life. After that, I fell into a daze. I was working on my daughter and kept working on different projects to fill my time, but inside, I was lost.

I was no longer the owner of a successful company. I was nobody. Everything I worked for lost value to me.

It took a while, but after the crash, I rose from the ashes and «reinvented myself». I realized that society is not my god or judge. I realized that I have the strength to decide what I really stand for, what I want, and with whom I want to make my dreams come true. And most importantly, I realized that life can make sense if you stop and understand what really inspires us.

My mistake was that I was chasing money instead of chasing what gave me integrity. I went into the currency business because it was relatively easy money. It wasn't rocket science. I was just selling money to make money. It never occurred to me that you could find out what I really liked and build a business around it.

Well, I learned my lesson. After living for a year in the void, analysing what I liked and what I didn't like, I decided to sell my house, sports cars and all my possessions and buy the 56' Oyster.

Call me crazy if you want, but this decision was the freest, most meaningful and liveliest action I have ever taken.

For the first time in my life, I have ignored public opinion and advice from my friends and family. I was guided by the things that make me happy: sailing, good food, time with family, connection with other people, freedom of choice in life.

In April 2014, my husband, my 3.5 year old daughter and my 39 year old left Gibraltar on a Britican (my husband is British, I am American and our daughter has dual citizenship - the name is encrypted with the British-American word combination«»). To date, we've covered 3,300 miles. We've never been so happy before. We survived 10 storms, one of them trapped us in Algeria (that was scary!), saw more than 47 Greek and Italian ruins, walked with more than 100 dolphins, watched whales, caught tuna (and ate it), tried home schooling, met amazing people and much more.

And you can't object: «Well, this is only available to some». Because we didn't quit our job.

Yes, we have some money left after we sold a 50% stake in the business, but not much to do nothing at all. Actually, that money would have been enough for five years. While I'm sailing around the world, I'm building a business in parallel, but this time in an area that I love! I run a blog about our journey and I search and create products close to maritime themes.

I earn my living by writing articles, interviews, online advertising, selling T-shirts, sea belts, spices, and soon my first line of marine jewelry and upholstered garden furniture will be released, because last month I found a great material for it with an anchor pattern - the cushions are already sewn!

I also published a book on the use of VHF radio. When I first used radio communication, I was nervous, I guess other newcomers feel the same way. This book, something like «VHF radio for kettles», instructs how to make calls, lists broadcast templates for all emergency calls such as MAYDAY, PAN-PAN, and so on.

My little empire isn't too profitable yet, but I'm sure if I keep doing it for another three years, I'll earn enough to keep us «afloat».

I realized that once you make a certain amount of money, no matter how much more you make, nothing will change.

You just have to provide some permanent income that is enough to continue living the life you like. I have food expenses, boat repairs and maintenance, insurance and berthing charges. You will be surprised at how inexpensive sailing is if the boat is in good condition.

The whole concept of hard work, constant postponement to old age to enjoy my retirement money, lies.

You don't have to get in the way. There are hundreds of ways to enjoy life now, and I am living proof of that. So...I sold my successful business, which I've been building for eight years, and I went sailing because I've had enough of what society calls «success»... Did I do the right thing? Hell, yes!

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