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Personal Growth Vacations

Need a little self-improvement? Try a ‘vocation vacation’!

Brian's self-improvement led to all-around personal growth

Are you an accountant who secretly wants to be an auctioneer? A salesperson dreaming of becoming a songwriter? A farmer who’s really into fashion? Brian Kurth believes you should be able to try on a job without giving up the one you’ve already got.

Oddly enough, it was losing his job during the dot-com bust in 2001 that led him to his vocation. Laid off, he took off from Chicago on a six-month road trip to explore America and Canada, as well as new directions for himself.

The trip changed his life—it made him realize that he wanted a simpler existence, closer to the mountains and the ocean—and  put him on the path to changing others’ lives.

In his travels, Brian “kept meeting people who were disgruntled with their jobs. They’d say this is what I do, but this is what I really want to do.” Fascinated, he kept a detailed journal of people’s dream jobs.

Not long after he sold his Chicago home and resettled in Portland, Oregon (where he has a view of Mount Rainier), Brian landed his own ideal job, in a winery. It was exciting to learn what went into producing a bottle of fine wine, but much to his surprise, Brian got more of a charge out of the project he was working on by night—a service matching people with mentors who would provide a brief but thorough experience in a dream job.

Vocation Vacations launched in January of 2004. By March, Brian was job matchmaking full-time, helping people spend anywhere from a day to two weeks trying out a new occupation. “Most of our vocationers are really looking for a career change, a life change,” he says. “They’re successful on paper but they really aren’t happy.”

To make sure vocationers get the most out of their experience, Brian provides pre- and post-vocation job coaching sessions and carefully picks mentors who have a real passion for their profession. “They have to be good at what they do,” he says, “and also be able to teach it.”

Job jumpers can test-drive more mainstream careers like television producer, florist or restaurateur, or narrower niches such as pit crew member, handbag designer or pet detective. Brian’s found his true dream job: helping other people find theirs!

Brian’s Tips

1. Think positive.
When you go solo, it might seem like things won’t work out. You need to be optimistic just for the sake of it.

2. Spend time with upbeat people.
Family, friends, whoever’s going to back you no matter what. Stay away from the naysayers.

3. Turn problems into opportunities.
Losing your job can mean finding a whole new direction for your life, one you never even dreamed of. Just look at me!

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