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August 6, 2012 / Wave Tribe

Chasing After Surf & Travel

The Ocean. I was way too far away from it at the time. Never to move away from it again!

I can’t believe I was living in a landlocked state almost a half a year ago.

After quite some time unemployed, I found what I believed to be my first great job and fit for the career goals I was going after.

Prior to moving to Minnesota from the East Coast in September of 2011, I wandered a bit around the US, Europe, and Caribbean islands, traveling around cities and surfing some waves for about a year.

And then I landed that job, and thought maybe I should work on my career and build up some credible experiences.

When I Realized It Was Wrong For Me

But just 3 months into my job, I quickly realized how much my gut was missing the sea.

How much I missed the feeling of the power of waves over me.

I thought I could just use my vacation days or accrue enough time to fly out to a beach on the coasts to satisfy my surf. Even though Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, and had Lake Superior to the north … it just wasn’t the same as having the power of the Pacific or Atlantic at your feet.

Besides being sorely disconnected with the sea, I quickly understood why people felt miserable at their day-time jobs. Why people have this negative opinion of working for corporations.

While I understand not all corporations are evil and each working environment is different, what I soon didn’t like was having to work in a time-constraint (8 to 5), dealing with unnecessary office politics, and working on routinely boring assignments.

Leaving the Job and Traveling Around Central America

I am the type of person who believes in not quitting. I didn’t want to appear like I was inadequate or a poor employee. I also was extremely worried how it would appear to future recruiters and other people in my life (especially my parents).

But in the end, after only being on the job for 5 months, I left. And quite frankly, it ended up being the best decision to happen to me (as cliché as that sounds).

With whatever funds I had left and a backpack, I ventured off to Central America, to explore and find some surf.

Surfing out in Playa Maderas, Nicaragua

From February to April 2012, I’d travel across Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, encountering other like-minded travelers who’ve embraced the “enjoy your life” attitude. We’d discuss our dreams and what we wanted out of life, that didn’t consist of the conventional paths that society likes to pressure many of us into living.

While traveling and surfing during those months was amazing and uplifting experience, it wasn’t sustainable for the long-term.

I needed to figure out how to create this location independent lifestyle, in a more long-term basis.

Behind the Scenes Planning and Small Wins

When I returned in May, I quickly got down to researching resources, and connecting up with other entrepreneurs who were seeking the location independent lifestyle.

The three months starting from May would be both emotionally and mentally grueling, as I wasn’t sure if what I was trying to pursue or achieve was even possible, or even acceptable.

But I had to constantly remind myself what my ultimate goals were: To be able to surf and travel when I wanted and where I wanted.

Keeping that goal in my thoughts really helped me through setting up several online businesses I started.

And as a result, I was able to secure my first client this past June, and will soon relocate to Hawaii in August to work on an entrepreneur project, right on Maui … something I would never have imagined happening just 6 months ago!

Bottom Line

This is where I’m supposed to summarize my points. But honestly, that sounds more like I’ve completed my journey … when in fact, I’ve only begun it.

But what can you take away?

It’s okay to quit. It actually is good to quit. Quitting helps you understand what’s right for you and what’s not. And the part about worrying about how other’s will look at you … who cares? Something I wish I didn’t concern myself with.

Don’t worry about your resume. Thanks to Derek of Wave Tribe for his wise words. Again, I was nervous about how gaps on my resume would be perceived by recruiters and others, but the importance is that … you are living your life, for what you want to do … not how others should see you. Therefore, not everything in life has to magically fit on a piece of paper to make you credible for that next gig.

Travel and surf (or do what makes you happy). Those were the two things that truly made me happy. I always loved to be on the move, being able to immerse myself in new areas, new places, and new people. Likewise, I didn’t want to only surf in short intervals of time, and to really improve on my wave riding techniques, I’d have to do it often. So whatever you have a passion for … make time for yourself to do them. The excuse “I just don’t have enough time” doesn’t cut it.

Why traveling is awesome … I get to randomly meet a sloth!

Surround yourself with the right people. The people you build relationships with will be the ones who will influence you and guide you towards success. Many times, those people will not be your likeliest friends or that live near you. It can be as small as networking with a mentor, and as big as joining communities you are part of online. Having the right people behind you will act as the support base when you go through your ups–and –downs.

What are you chasing after?


Harrison Tsai currently enjoys stoking it out as a Content Contributor to Wave Tribe. He also talks about travel at Hustle to Paradise and promotes cause-based apparel organizations at Amped Style.


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