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TV host Jeff Jung shares his secrets for ditching the rat race to travel

TANYA ENBERG, Chic Savvy Travels TANYA ENBERG, Chic Savvy Travels

When I saw an email from a contact of mine at GAP Adventures gauging my interest on writing a work-life balance story — featuring corporate-world escapee Jeff Jung — indeed, the curiousity levels spiked up like a coffee-jacked blood system. That was more than a month ago.

Jeff Jung climbed and climbed the corporate ladder until one day he decided to pack it in and travel. Now he inspires others to do the same.

Oh, yes, the interview has been done for ages. But, as a freelance writer and travel website founder, work-life balance is kind of like hearing about a dog that can surf — you’ve got to see it, or in the case of work-life balance, experience it, to believe it.

Though I did see a surfing dog in Puerto Vallarta not too long ago, which somehow doesn’t seem as unfathomable as balancing to-dos and must-dos and have-tos in the course of any given day, week, month or year, if you ask me.

Alas, meet Mr. Jung. He may just be my hero and, for anyone who has spent any amount of time slogging away for a micro-managing nagging nutter at the office or clocking in far too many unnoticed hours without even some fair dollar cred in return, he’ll soon be yours, too.

It likely won’t come as a big surprise that a recent survey (OK, recent-ish at this point) by GAP Adventures, conducted by Harris/Decima, found that nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadians struggle to achieve balance. That and 64 per cent feel overwhelmed (ahem).

But, the real gold nugget in the survey’s findings is this — 74 per cent would take a career break to travel, provided no obstacles stood in their way, such as safety or budget.

Jung has proved the possibilities in the impossibilities. The founder of Career Break Secrets and host of The Career Break Travel Show, he has helped inspire thousands of folks to temporarily — and in some cases, permanently — ditch their jobs and take off.

“Work/life balance can definitely be challenging to achieve,” Jung admits.

“I donʼt think the issue is the five-day work week, itʼs when work goes beyond the office and starts to consume your life. Thatʼs where a career break — a period of time off from work, typically for a month to a year, for travel and personal development — can help restore balance.”

Sounds divine, right?

Can anyone follow in this man’s footsteps? Jung thinks so. Ditching work to travel, however, has to be a priority, he says.

“According to the poll, 89 per cent of Canadians feel personal development is just as or more important than professional development. However, I think many people easily get caught up in climbing the corporate ladder and forget to invest in themselves,” he says.

“Building a professional portfolio or foundation is important and can certainly be rewarding in some ways. But taking a step back to focus on your own personal interests and passions is equally, if not more, important.”

Jung believes on-the-road education offers insurmountable value.

The learning curve offered from fresh experiences goes beyond the borders of the places we travel. Though this doesn’t necessarily equate to dollar signs, the payback for what Jung calls “career breakers” can be rich.

“Taking a career break will help reduce stress and improve life satisfaction,” he says.

“Career breakers tell me all the time that taking a sabbatical increases their self-confidence. Figuring out where to eat and sleep in a foreign country on a daily basis makes them feel like they can achieve anything. For me, taking a break from my career allowed me to recharge my batteries and revitalize my passion for life — and work — and ultimately to restore the much-needed balance that was missing. It was the best thing I did for myself and my career.

“When you take a career break, youʼre also taking a break from your friends and family. Not being around your loved ones can be emotionally challenging. Oftentimes, itʼs easier on the career breaker because theyʼre about to embark on a new life adventure.”

For adventure seekers (aka, the chronically adventure starved) Jung’s sentiments may feel as though somebody finally understands them, though many people don’t take the dramatic escape-artist plunge until a downward spiral sets in.

That was the case for Jung, who eventually found the solution that worked for him.

“I towered atop the corporate ladder for many years and the impact of the overwhelming stress really affected my health,” Jung recalls.

“The day-to-day grind was emotionally and physically draining, stifling my personal growth. Working long hours, late evenings and weekends became the norm. I lost sight of the big picture and was heading toward a mid-life crisis.”

Now, he works at motivating. And living balance while prioritizing travel, of course.

“I tell my personal story and share my lessons learned from my two-year career break. I also believe in the power of telling othersʼ stories to highlight the types of people who take career breaks and how they did it. I am also active in the travel community to speak to those interested in taking the plunge.”

If taking the globe-trotting “plunge” isn’t quite your style, Jung suggests taking the reigns of your life in other ways. The key, he says, includes maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle to reduce stress. Join a gym, take a daily walk, just get moving.

He also stresses the value of connecting with others.

“Volunteer to give back and meet new people,” says Jung. “Get involved with an extra-curricular activity and implement a weekly digital-time-out to disconnect.”

Jeff Jung’s three most memorable ‘career breaker’ stories:

• Caroline: left her corporate sales job with her best friend to scuba dive around the world. After volunteering at an orphanage in India, she was so moved, she founded The Miracle Foundation, which now runs 10 to 12 orphanages and schools in India.
• Tamsin: left her corporate marketing job to travel and volunteer in Africa and South America. After a brief return to the marketing world, she founded a consultancy to help non-profit organizations grow and develop sustainable funding sources.
• Lillie: left her teaching job to travel the world and volunteer. Now that sheʼs back to teaching in Boston, she has started a website to inspire other teachers to travel the world.

Jung’s practical tips to help Canadians stay safe — and keep in touch — during a career break:

• Photocopy, scan and e-mail your most important documents (passport, visas and credit cards) so you have multiple ways to access the info while youʼre on the road.
• Tap into the online travel community to connect with other like-minded individuals and get additional advice. A great resource is DitchTheCubicle.ca.
• Start in a destination where they speak your language.
• Use technology to keep in touch with friends and family back home, such as Skype and Facebook.

Copyright @ 2013 Chic Savvy Travels

Date Added: June 1, 2013 | Comments (0)

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