So there we were. Graduates.
Full of life. And dreams.
We had our degrees. We had jobs in the city. We had ambition. We were loving life.
That is until we weren’t.
Things took an unusual turn, as they often do in life, and we went from being on top to hitting rock bottom in the span of a few months, and we were suddenly stuck on a goat farm in the middle of nowhere, with no one around for miles.
A goat farm, you ask? How in the world did that happen?
Let me back up a bit.
Before Beth and I were married, we started volunteering with a local high school youth group. The people who ran the organization were so impressed with us that within a few months, they offered us both full-time jobs. Beth lucked out and got the job as director of the youth program.
I, on the other hand, was offered the position of the facilities manager, which in this case, was a fancy title for the person who ran the janitorial program. But I didn’t care. I was just so happy to have a good-paying job that also allowed me to keep volunteering with the youth that I was willing to do just about anything.
Fast forward a bit. After two years of making sure my team vacuumed the carpets, got the chewing gum out of the upholstery, and wiped up the pee from intentional misfires in the boy’s room, I’d had enough! You can only do work that is mind-numbingly boring (and disgusting) for so long.
And then fate takes control. The dot com bubble bursts, the Seattle economy was tanking fast, and because of budget cuts Beth was about to be let go, and I was about to be demoted from janitorial supervisor to just plain janitor.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the day my supervisor told me that one of my new duties was going to be sweeping up cigarette butts in the parking lot every morning while the Starbucks sipping suburban soccer moms dropped their kids off for school, watching me sweep up trash from the windows of their Mercedes SUVs. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, not with a Master’s Degree.
We had to make a change and fast.
But, believe it or not, after all the years in school and tens of thousands in tuition, we still didn’t know what to do with ourselves, and after spending a few years working 70 hour weeks between our jobs and our volunteering, we had little time left over to figure it out.
But, the real problem was that we didn’t know what we wanted to do. And with our ridiculous schedules, we were having trouble finding the time to figure it out.
So we made a drastic move.
It was a little crazy, we’ll admit. We must have seemed certifiably insane to our parents who were all in stable, secure jobs they’d had for almost 30 years.
We quit our jobs. We gave away everything we owned. And we moved sight unseen to a solar-powered goat farm in the middle of nowhere.
You see, we had found a care-taking opportunity on the Big Island of Hawaii where we could live “rent-free” in exchange for just a few hours of work per week. We thought this would finally be our chance to take the time we needed to think about and plan our future.
Before you start thinking, “Wow, what a great idea, I should move to a goat farm in Hawaii,” let us tell you that we seriously wouldn’t recommend it. Here’s why…
Chasing Chickens, Milking Goats, and Crapping in Buckets
Perhaps you conjured up a romantic image when we mentioned how we moved to Hawaii — lying in a hammock under a palm tree on a beautiful beach pondering the meaning of life? That’s what we thought too, but that’s far from what we got.
Imagine black lava rock as far as the eye could see. Sunlight was so intense that we had to stay inside most of the day — a shack with no screens filled with blood-sucking mosquitoes. We had to wash our laundry by hand. And, since we had no toilet, we had to “go” in five gallons buckets and then carry them a quarter mile down the road to bury. Gross.
On top of that, completely isolated from our family and friends, we were cut off from making new friends because the farm was so remote. No Internet. No TV. Old-school “dumb” cell phones that only got one bar of reception on a good day.
We were miserable most days, and sometimes downright depressed. We were disappointed in ourselves and felt like we had let our parents down, who meanwhile was worried sick about us.
Why did we do this? Because we were desperate to get off the hamster wheel for just a while, to take some time to figure out just who we were and what we wanted out of life.
But it wasn’t all bad. We picked up a lot of valuable skills as well, learning how to milk goats, raise chickens, ducks, and geese, grow vegetables in our garden and make fresh, healthy foods from scratch like kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, and fresh-baked, organic sourdough bread.
It was during these six months on the farm spent reading, writing, researching, and tending goats that I started figuring out what was missing from my upbringing and education that made me stumble the way I did, and I began to figure out how I could fill in the gaps for other young people and help them to skip past all of the hardships I endured and move right into successful, lucrative, fulfilling careers, without having to move to a goat farm in Hawaii to work through a quarter-life crisis.
Ultimately, it was this challenging time on the farm that led us to create the Test Drive Your Future Experience online course and coaching program and helped make us into the ambitious, confident, and successful people we are today.
And that makes all of the isolation, sunburns, mosquito bites, scars from tripping and falling in jagged lava rock, and time spent hauling 5-gallon buckets of human waste down a gravel road in a tippy wheelbarrow worth it.