Reflecting on My Previous Life as a Teacher and How My Life Has Changed 

Many people that know me personally were surprised that my wife and I would move to South Africa to study ranching of all things. Many were also alarmed when I quit my job as a teacher to pursue my dream of ranching. I had other teachers coming up to me and saying how awesome it is that I’m quitting and pursuing my dream. They were basically saying “Chris this is so great, I wish I could quit my job and leave this awful place too!” I wanted to shake these people and tell them to do whatever it is they dream of doing!! Life is too damn short to do something you don’t enjoy. Why be miserable your entire life? The thought of people doing things they don’t enjoy is depressing.

What my wife and I did is not something spectacular or extraordinary, as many people made it out to be. Quitting our jobs was the best thing we’ve ever done for our happiness, and because of that our relationship has gotten so much stronger. Yes, we have less money but we made a plan to transition to our current life of doing internships. That meant saving a lot of money knowing that we would need it later. My wife also supported both of us during my internship with Greg Judy. Now that we are outside the teaching environment we really see how overworked and overstressed we were. We weren’t enjoying life. As Ian likes to say, “Life is about living, not working.” I think he’s 100% correct. That doesn’t mean that Ian doesn’t work. He works hard and often. But he takes time to enjoy life! I know we have to work in order to achieve great things. I love to work hard to accomplish something, but killing yourself 7 days a week and never being able to spend time with your family is probably not the best way to go about living a happy life.

Yes Ranching is hard work. But I’d rather work for myself than get paid $20,000/year after taxes as a teacher. Another thing I have realized living in another country is that it’s seen a “noble” to give yourself to a profession (teaching or public service) in America where you are completely unselfish. I’m sorry, but we need to start being more selfish! Ian says that we need to save ourselves before we can save the world. He’s right. If you are in a situation where you are unhappy and working for a purpose your not passionate about, make a plan to get out. It’s not worth it! Don’t just quit one day and then say, “OK Chris, I’m ready to start ranching, what do I do?” You have to make a transition and I will write about that shortly.

What it comes down to is taking risks. It was a risk to quit my job. It was a risk to do all these internships. It will be risky to start our own ranching/grazing operation in Colorado when we get back. It will be risky. However, we can minimize and calculate those risks. There are so many people in today’s society that are afraid to take risks. Take a risk and follow your passion. Maybe you’ll fail. Pick yourself up and try again. Maybe you’ll end up happier than you thought possible while making a living from pursuing your dream. With enough dedication and hard work I think anyone can make a living from their passion. Life is too damn short to be unhappy. Go get what you are after!

Chris Stelzer

Chris Stelzer is a published Author, founder of Agricultural Insights and creator of many resources that help family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. His flagship courses are the Grazing Mastery Program and The Farm Marketing Mastery Program. 

Chris Stelzer

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