My cousin Trevor Stefiuk is the perfect embodiment of the ideas behind JetSetCitizen. He had a well paying job, a nice house and a decent life in Canada, but he gave it all up to pursue his dreams on the other side of the world in Australia. This is lifestyle design at its finest. Moving to Australia took years of effort and waiting to secure the visa, with the move costing a significant amount of money. In Australia, he went back to school to further develop his skills in his life long passion of music. Now he is self-employed recording local musicians, playing guitar in a couple of bands and even giving music lessons. Trevor is a professional striving for excellence in a career he loves. He moved to a warm country to have the weather and quality of life he wanted. Trevor is a Jet Set Citizen. Here is an interview that I hope will provide some inspiration for others considering a major career change.
What were you doing before you became a JetSetCitizen?
Well John, in the 24 years since I left high school I’ve worked as a musician, sound Engineer, millwright and power lineman. I reckon that varied work experience has gone a long way to bringing me to where I am now. The powerline trade certification that I have was my main source of income for almost 16 years. For those that don’t know what a powerlineman is, we work on the high voltage lines and equipment that make up the electrical grid that gets the power to your house. My specialty in this trade was working the lines energized. It’s called “liveline” work in the trade.
Why weren’t you happy in that profession? What was missing from your life?
The powerline trade is a physically and mentally demanding job that can be fatal if you have a bad day on the job. I learned over the years to really think about what I was doing, but I also learned that not everyone you work with shares that same mind set. This can be a bit disconcerting when working with electricity. In my time doing this trade, I have had six close calls that could have ended my life. These close calls were caused by factors out of my control. The risk/reward ratio in this profession wasn’t worth it for me.
I am a stubborn sort so I did this job for as long as I did to prove to myself that I could do a job most people can’t or won’t do. The part that was missing for me was a real satisfaction and peace about where my life was going if I continued on in this trade. I looked around me at work and saw most of my co-workers to be bitter, arrogant, aging prematurely and generally in a state of mind and being that I didn’t want anything to do with.
What sacrifices and risks did you make in order to get to where you are today?
In Canada, my wife and I had secure jobs with pensions, a nice new house, new vehicles and the freedom to do lots of fun stuff and not worry about how to pay for it. For some this might be the goal to work towards. We unfortunately did not get satisfaction from this life.
The accumulation of stuff, the ability to get more in debt and pay more taxes had lost it’s appeal. We wanted a somewhat simpler life with a better lifestyle. Less consumerism, capitalism and waiting for retirement and a lot more living in the now. It took almost two years for us to get a permanent immigration visa. It has cost us thousands of dollars to relocate and get re- established with no guarantee of success. You leave friends and family half a world away and you end up going to a country where you know no one. Some of our family and friends said we were crazy for starting down this path. I reckon that from the outside view of what we were doing it did look a bit odd.
When you completely up root your life and move to Australia there has to be a willingness to not be afraid and trust that if you make the effort you will have some success. Fear is mankind’s greatest enemy and I can say that it came up in our thoughts at times. If you succumb to fear you will never live your life. Who wants that? I certainly didn’t.
What advice would you offer for others pursuing the same career objectives?
As I said before, don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to give anything a go. Don’t be afraid to fail even. Don’t be afraid!!!
On a practical note. Plan as well as you can. There is no strategist that can account for every possibility, look at the Yanks and Iraq for example, but at this stage in your life you should know a bit about yourself. Plan for your strengths and weaknesses and plan for the stuff you didn’t think you had in you. A big move and career change requires an open mind. Do not expect everything to be the same as it was back home. For example, did you know that radar detectors are illegal here in Queensland? That little known fact in Canada cost me $ 235 AU the first week we were here. The radar detector came with the vehicle I bought second hand and the previous owner didn’t bother to mention they were not allowed. Oh well, live and learn. Information is key to having a decent time of it no matter what country you settle in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the locals. You will be surprised at the help that can be offered to you.
Do you have any regrets about leaving Canada and your old job? (lost friends, income, etc.)
With all honesty, not one regret. In hindsight, I would have liked to have planned a few things better here and there. That is part of the learning curve on any adventure. Again, live and learn.
With online communications being what they are today you can maintain relevant contact with friends and loved ones easily. You will also make some great new friends in your new location.
Jobs can and will be replaced. I reckon the days of working your whole career at one spot are dying as quickly as the the record companies. If you have skills and are happy to get involved in your new home, you will do well. My wife Shelley has had a dream job for the last 2 1/2 years. She is doing something she would have never ever thought of on her own, but through some hard work on her end and having some relevant skills she was able to have this happen for her.
For myself, I am doing some really cool and diverse things in the music business. Things I thought were left in my twenties. We are amazed at the way life has gone for us. We couldn’t have planned it so good. For us, I think the key thing has been attitude. Sure you are going to have shit days, they come and go, but, if you can maintain a genuine gratitude for life and joy in the day you have NOW, things will come out good for you.