How Quitting a Stressful Life Was The Ultimate Risk

The decision, the journey and the unexpected aftermath.

A year ago in June of 2016 I was living on an Italian farm, midway through a life transition and mind-body-spirit awakening. My husband and I quit our jobs in NYC to pursue a dream that neither of us knew would be as transformative as it was.

Making the decision to live in Italy and leave all that we knew behind was a big leap of faith. We didn’t know Italian and had no support network abroad. However, we did have a dream and a undeniable need for something different.

We were both professionals working the commonly seen grind in New York. He was a restaurant manager working upwards of 60 hours a week, and I a therapist working slightly less hours on the verge of burnout. It was a life full of stress, chaos, and fleeting fulfillment. We knew we needed more in the way of meaning so we decided to take the risk.

Image: Unsplash

I’ve told the story before and, make no mistake, I wouldn’t change a thing. What I have not shared is the aftermath of our homecoming and how the real risk of quitting a life of stress has panned out.

After we returned to New York, sun kissed and peaceful, the reality of having to get back to work hit us like a ton of bricks. My husband became employed right away and I began working at a group therapy practice shortly after. We were inadvertently thrown right back into the lifestyle that we tried to escape from.

The truth is, stress is not escapable. Especially living in NYC, stress is like the stench of hot garbage on a summer day, something you just accept and live with. But I didn’t want to accept the same stressful lifestyle. I wanted something more balanced, something more fitting to the transformation that we went through with the risk we took.

Rather than having our journey be a sabbatical from a stressful life, I wanted to carry with me the perspective I learned while in Italy: live life slowly, be connected with nature, and focus on what matters. These principles were so easy to implement in Italy and came so naturally there. Working on a farm will have you inherently connected to the earth, naturally slowing down and grateful for what you have growing.

Photo: Author in Brisighella, Ravenna, Italy

New York didn’t foster those principles. I learned I would have to create them myself.

The aftermath of this peaceful and restorative journey was one that I didn’t expect. Naively I thought that things would just fall into place. That my newfound perspective and mentality would follow me wherever I went. I didn’t think it would be so much work.

So in the months that followed our return and jolt back to reality, I forced myself to slow down. I viewed stress as a choice rather than an obligation. Quitting a life of stress and a nine-year-long relationship with New York City stress was harder than I expected.

I was suddenly acutely aware of the challenges that New Yorker’s face on a daily basis. The constant stress we are put under as a generation to perform and keep going without any regard for our own needs. The never ending line of “who’s more stressed” that is played by friends. I had to change the dialogue not only within myself, but within my group of friends.

The thing that no one tells you about taking a major life-changing risk is that the follow through takes work. Whether you’re quitting your job for a different lifestyle, leaving a relationship for something better, moving to a completely different city for a change in perspective — you will have to do the work to get the outcome you deserve.

Change doesn’t come easy and neither does the decision to take a risk. Making the choice for change is only the first step, what you do next can dictate everything that follows. Don’t stop at the risk, remember the follow through as well!

Tired of the constant stress & ready for a stress-less existence? Join Leslie for a free 3-day challenge on how to refocus your stress & find more balance in your life.