Elixan Consulting
Performance Leadership Engagement


leadership, culture, performance

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Why are you still working 9-5 in a job you don't love?

I am currently on a sabbatical in southern Spain and have met a number of people who have made some really interesting career choices.  In fact, they were not career choices at all.  They are life choices.  Instead of doing the “9-5 (or 8-6) thing” to slowly climb up the ladder in order to save enough to pay off their mortgage and live their dreams during retirement, they asked themselves – ‘what life do I want today?’

The answers were both scary and inspiring.  Let me share some of their stories.

Jim and Jenny*

Jim and Jenny previously resided in North America and decided to live in Granada for a year with their teenage daughter.

Jenny works in data analytics.  To achieve their lifestyle dream, she was able to negotiate with her employer to work remotely.  In Spain.  So, she logs on at 2pm and works till 10pm each day.  In the morning she studies Spanish (a requirement to get a yearlong student visa).

Jim works in IT and was able to negotiate with his employer to take leave every 3 year and get paid two-thirds of his salary per year.  So, he worked 2 years, and now he is living in Granada travelling around southern Spain and enjoying life in a beautiful and relaxed city.  To make it work for the family, he agreed to do the bulk of the “home duties” as Jenny was working and studying. 

Their daughter is attending a local school and embracing the opportunity to play football (ie soccer for Australians) and eat tapas. 

To achieve their dream, they had to leave their large comfortable home in North America, live in an apartment, negotiate with their employers, rethink their expenses and make it work for each family member.  Moving suburbs can be hard for a teenager, let alone countries – especially when they speak a different language. 

No regrets so far.

Lisa and JB* 

Lisa and JB have returned to Granada for a month because the Spanish language school was so good.  (They had tried a couple in Argentina which they say were rubbish.)  Six years ago, they left their corporate jobs and started their own online business.  They have been travelling ever since – working when they need to or want to.  Their business can be run from a laptop anywhere in the world. 

They describe themselves as “homeless”, and they have lived in some of the most beautiful places in the world.   They bring their laptops and one backpack each to every new destination.  They are not without assets, but their physical possessions are very few. When you put a pause on mindless consumerism it is amazing how little money you really need to live on.  If you are not buying the latest outfit or gadget or must have item for your house, you can focus on what is important.   A minimalist lifestyle with maximum life enjoyment.  No stuff – how liberating.

Chile is their next stop.  They will stay a few months and start a new online business.  No fixed timeframes or plans. 


Anthony moved to Granada 3 years ago with his wife and 2 children.  He had previously lived in the US but studied Spanish in Granada and loved the lifestyle so much they made a plan to return permanently.    He works as a leadership coach and management consultant and has retained existing clients from his hometown. It took him 3 years to get more connections and now consults across Europe from Granada. 

He seemed pretty happy.

So, what have l learnt from their stories:

  • The opposite of happiness is not sadness, it is boredom (thanks –fourhourworkweek.com)
  • You have to articulate your priorities and make them really actionable – especially if they are going to cut across the accepted wisdom of career, family and societal expectations.  This is life management not career management
  • You then have to work out what skills, resources, networks, opportunities you have to achieve what you actually want and take a risk
  • You have to ask (that is, negotiate) in order to get what you want.  This is not just with your employer, but also includes your partner and children.  If you cannot come to a win-win, what are you willing to compromise on to achieve your ideal life.
  • You don’t need to be 20-something or retired to break the mould.  All the people in the stories above were mid-career.  Most had families and mortgages.
  • It is easier to do than you think
  • Nothing (probably) disastrous will happen if you give it a go .


So, are you living the life you want to live or are you following the accepted wisdom?


* Names have been changed.



A stroll through the cobbled streets of Granada after our language class with the blue winter sky above and Sierra Nevada in the distance.  Perfecto.

A stroll through the cobbled streets of Granada after our language class with the blue winter sky above and Sierra Nevada in the distance.  Perfecto.