Doubts as Companions

by Paul Goodchild on November 10, 2009

Having doubts?

Doubts are a difficult thing to embrace, but I’m going to throw it up against the wall anyway and see what sticks.

Since my decision to jack in my job, leave my place of residence of 6 years and the friends I had made, I have had several periods of almost crippling doubt and anxiety.  Some can last just a few minutes, while others can last for days.  ‘Doubt’ is an inadequate word for the sensations that arise sometimes, I feel.  Depending on the length of time they stay, it can really chip away at what you believe to be a firm foundation for the direction you plan to take your life.  It forces you to critique your own self and your logic, to strip away any and all fantasies surrounding it, and get right down to the nitty-gritty.

Recently, for various reasons, I’ve had cause to doubt several aspects of the direction I have chosen.  Primarily it comes down to questioning the validity of my main proposal: to travel around the world, punctuating it significantly with bouts of philanthropic service.  I have no desire to earn money while doing this, but would like minimise costs associated with bed & board by availing of any host family options, for example.

Next under scrutiny is my ability to actually perform, and this covers a whole host of skills such as the ability to form meaningful connections with the new people I meet, network in relevant areas, do the necessary research, and in-general, get the ground work done that’s required to pull this off.

Then there’s the gorilla in the corner of the room… when all is said and done, I’ve travelled hither and fro, I’m ready to slow it down and settle in one particular place for a while, what do I go back to?  What work/activities will I employ to earn a living sufficient enough to sustain myself, and whomever my dependants are at the time.

The plan

I’ve written before about my complete inability to resonate with work for work‘s sake.  My view is simply this, every single moment of your life spent doing something, performing a task, that isn’t bringing you closer to the fulfilment of a significant goal in your life, is ultimately wasted time.  This doesn’t mean that taking a holiday, or reading a novel, or leisure time is wasted, since it clearly plays its own role in maintaining life’s sometimes precarious balance.  I refer mainly to whiling away the hours, days, and weeks, in a painfully uninspiring position that progresses you no further from where you started, and worst of all, brings you backward.

At the same time, if you find yourself, as I have, realising you’re doing something you actually don’t want to be doing, there’s no harm in that.  Those kinds of experiences teach you what you shouldn’t be doing, and refines your parameters as you search for that which inspires you.  The problem arises when you have such a realisation and you ignore it.

So, on with the show…

I quit my job with a view to “travel the world!”.  How grand?  I didn’t, and frankly still don’t, know a whole lot about where I’ll go, and when, and how.  I have 2 significant events to attend in 2010, one in March in Thailand, the other in April in Bali.  I have a flight for Bangkok booked for early January and that’s literally the sum of all I have planned for my trip.  As I muddle through November and December, I will hopefully be able to refine that a little bit, but right now it’s hard to say how much is possible from here.  My current understanding is that most volunteer work is best sought for when you’re in the region you wish to work.

Once I’ve travelled around and experienced working in many different areas and disciplines, I would like to start my own projects in particular locations that interest me most and capture my imagination.  What that could be is hard to say right now, and I.T./computers is an obvious option, but I think working with/for children is highly likely.  I would also like to make it a self-sustaining enterprise, one that funds itself somehow.  It will obviously need some capital investment up front, but I don’t fundamentally wish to create another charity – something that creates its own revenue which is then fed back into the system is ideally what I’d strive to create.

The flaws

How do you create a business that is wholly socially conscious? I.e. it doesn’t have a separate department so-called “Corporate Responsibility” since it is by-definition a social business, and generates it own revenue and profit, without relying on charitable donations.

I don’t know.

My current belief system (when I’m living consciously) is one that generally favours positive thinking over anything else – if there isn’t a way to achieve a goal I have set out to do, then I will discover that that is the case in due course, and adapt accordingly.

This sounds very straight forward, but I have a feeling the real-life implementation of this is going to be a lot tougher in this case.

The alternative to thinking like this is that “it’s impossible” – it can’t be done and I should basically give up before I try.  This is true of anything in your life that you haven’t yet tried but are afraid to attempt. Anything.

How often do you find yourself making excuses, all seemingly valid – arguably so – that prevent you from actually taking action towards something you want.  Social pressures and habits of a lifetime are hard to break away from, but you have no other choice if you want to find fulfilment in your life.  It doesn’t matter if you fail terribly at achieving your goals and aspirations, but you’ll know that you tried.

I think that most people who read this are in a very wonderfully fortunate position.  How so?  Because if you attempt something that demands of you to quit your current job and try something altogether new and “insecure” and it doesn’t work out as you’d hoped, you may fall on relatively rough times.  But you will probably have a safety net of friends, family, or both that will catch you when you do.  I know I do.  It wouldn’t be ideal, but I’d still be living with a roof over my head and the opportunity to rebuild, and the wealth of life experience garnered from trying would be immeasurable… (at least I’m hoping so!)

A unexpected companion

Doubts are companions we must take on our journey.  They come in the form of critique and questioning both from ourselves and our peers, and may even force us to stop what we’re doing and re-evaluate our decisions and plans. They’re neither good nor bad, and I’d almost say a necessity for hardening our resolve.  Not from stubbornness, but from the realisation that our thinking and resolve has been tested, and we are able to justify ourselves with sound arguments.  Such questioning may prompt alterations to the course, but the ultimate goal is the same – fulfilment!

Please feel free to add your comments, and even better, share this post with other people you know using the links provided below. You may also find related and similar posts in the ‘Related Posts’ section, also found below. Thank you!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bernice November 11, 2009 at 11:43

Jeepers! That sure is a big bite of the pie you’re taking without knowing what the filling is! Best of luck with it all anyway – I hope it works out for you. I think it probably will.
It’s interesting that you should write about this actually because lately I’ve been thinking I really f*cked up by quitting my job and going travelling. Obviously, it’s only coz I’ve been having such difficulty finding work since I got back, but still. I’m also opposed to work for work’s sake, but part of me wonders if I’m just dead lazy….. Could be. It’s quite the dilemma actually. My throat begins to close over when I think of what the future holds if I can’t find a job, but it does the same when I think of being back in an office again. A change of career could be beneficial at this point but without having even a glimmer of an idea of where I might be most useful, I’m inclined to stick. Of course, if no-one is willing to hire me, then the die is cast and I will take that job selling refreshments on the Dublin-Limerick train………
Where are you now anyway?


Paul Goodchild November 11, 2009 at 11:50

…I’m on the Belfast-Dublin train. Coffee? 😉

Yea, I hear ya Bernice… it’s the Gorilla in the corner I mentioned for me. When all is said and done, what do I go back to? Working for work’s sake? Sod that. I am hoping that somewhere along the way it’ll fall into place. I figure that through perpetual volunteer work, and working for socially responsible and philanthropic organisations, ideas will be forthcoming. My understanding is that there’s so many options out there and finding work that I love shouldn’t be too hard in that area. But then, I guess it comes down here to not as much about what you’re doing, but why and for whom you’re doing it. Ya know what I mean? There is a balance to be sought, but I guess just getting stuck in is going to help me find it. 🙂

Who knows, perhaps I’ll meet you on that Dublin-Belfast train some day 😉


Andrea November 12, 2009 at 03:14

Hey Paul,

Quite a post. I have to admit I’m often a little surprised by how philosophical you can be, but when I think about it and about you I realize I probably shouldn’t be. Anyway, kudos for having the strenght to put serious thoughts/feelings down for yourself and all the world to see.

So two comments:
One – having recently also made a fairly major lifestyle change I can appreciate what you are going through. When the movers finished packing away my apartment and finally left, I found myself alone in my empty apartment with nothing but a suitcase, a backpack, and a lot of fear and doubt. It was nearly paralyzing . . . but like all things I think the importance is having faith in your convictions and your decisions and letting them play out as best as you can. You’re a talented guy so I’m sure you’ll be successful in anything you try.

Second . . if you are looking to do some philanthropic work around the world, I have some contact that might be of help. A few ideas:
I know you are already active in supporting Room To Read, but if you want to get more involved I can get you in touch with a close friend of mine who is their representative director in Singapore.
Another close friend worked for 2-3 years at the Angkor Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap, Cambodia and has lots of contacts there. She could probably help you arrange a volunteer opportunity. She left Cambodia for a little while but is now back working at an eco-resort up north.
A friend in Hong Kong works as a volunteer for children with Down’s Syndrom. She might have some contacts to help you find volunteer opportunities.
My family is active in fundraising for spinal cord injury research through the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation – they are mainly active in the US, but there might be volunteer opportunities there.

If any of these sound interesting let me know and I can try to put you in touch with people.

Good luck with continued travels and keep in touch!


bunnie November 16, 2009 at 04:02

first time i read your blog… never knew u had one… it’s now in my favorites 🙂


Paul Goodchild November 18, 2009 at 11:51

@Andrea. Thanks for the feedback dude, and for the appreciation. It’s difficult, but it gets easier to put such musings up online for everyone to see. For me, it’s actually beneficial in several ways. One, it shows people very clearly who you are and where you’re coming from, and 2, hopefully means that anybody who has read this blog and *still* wants to know me based on the fact they know much about me already means they’re serious about it. There’s no pretense and it’s all real. I hope. 🙂
Also, the leads on the volunteer work, thank you! I’ll drop you an email privately as the contact in Cambodia might just be the ticket. While I plan to go to Thailand first off, I might hop over to Cambodia and spend most of my time there. We’ll see, but your help is muy muy appreciated. < - does it show I’m learning Spanish (slowly?) 😉 @Bunnie… I can’t believe you’ve only discovered this now?! 😛


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