Great Escapes: Examples Thereof
February 21, 2012 11:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples (biographies, documentaries, blogs...any format, really) about people who made the decision to completely change the direction of their lives, particularly folks who went from a typical "day job/corporate career" into something less mainstream.

Whenever I feel a bit trapped by my life, especially my job (middle management in a corporate job that's usually okay, but occasionally soul-sucking), I like to plan my Great Escape. The main problem is, I don't have too many examples of successful escapes to plan my own.

Feel free to suggest off-the-wall examples. In fact, the more off-the-wall, the better, so long as the beginning is fairly mainstream and the result is something very different.
posted by xingcat to Work & Money (13 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I am not sure you would find it inspiring, but A Man with No Talents by Oyama Shiro is the story of a corporate worker who became a day laborer and then homeless.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:49 AM on February 21, 2012

A Map For Saturday might not be as permanent a change as you want, but he touches on the general issue throughout the documentary.
posted by backwards guitar at 11:57 AM on February 21, 2012

Check out Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by the founder of Room To Read.
posted by :-) at 12:05 PM on February 21, 2012

The Cliff Walk is like this, although I found the author's behavior pretty aggravating.
posted by something something at 12:14 PM on February 21, 2012

"What Should I Do With My Life?" by Po Bronson. Book. Article. Website.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 12:14 PM on February 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm not sure this is welcome here, as I can't link to anything but his website (which I'm not intending to be link-spam), but one of my close friends had a job as a Webmaster at a mid-size university, coding a propietary Content Management System all day, making pretty good money, when he up and quit to pursue making handmade plush Zombies.

Now he travels around to different comic book and sci-fi/zombie conventions and events, and sells his various, adorable, plush Zombies. They're called Zoms. His website is
posted by cheeken at 12:31 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: From this past weekend's New York Times Magazine
posted by beisny at 12:38 PM on February 21, 2012

In Encounters at the End of the World, Werner Herzog interviews a number of people like that. I particularly remember one guy who gave up his job as a banker in Colorado to join the Peace Corps in Guatemala, and when Herzog found hum in Antarctica he was a happy bus driver.
posted by spasm at 12:43 PM on February 21, 2012

Best answer: Matthew Crawford wrote the book "Shop Class as Soulcraft" which is based on him leaving the world of a Washington D.C. think tank to open a vintage motorcycle shop. The book uses this idea as a vehicle for inquiry into the value of work and the importance of blue-collar professions.

The book was preceeded by an excellent essay that was published in The New Atlantis.

Also, coincidentally, a friend of mine just left her high-stress profession of many years at a not-for-profit film organization to work part-time as a seamstress for fashion designers. She has a blog in which she writes about the experience called The Cottage Revolution.
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, And Brad Stevens was a mid-level marketing executive at pharmaceutical giant Lilly, when he quit and volunteered as a basketball operations manager with Butler University, and quickly worked his way up to the head coaching position. He's since become the youngest coach to reach back-to-back national championship games.

There isn't a particular piece of writing on his story, per se, but there are books about the teams recent successes, as well as this New York Times article which briefly addresses his unusual entrance to his coaching position.
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 1:07 PM on February 21, 2012

I went from doing very corporate/government usability/accessibility code monkey stuff to working for a comedian to then move on to dog grooming. Feel free to memail me.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:25 PM on February 21, 2012

Lots of stories in this one: Working Identity.
posted by paduasoy at 2:46 PM on February 21, 2012

This made by hand Has 2 vids - the knife one was awesome.
posted by jopreacher at 8:46 PM on February 21, 2012

« Older Troubled times   |   It's what I wanted, right??? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.