Divorcee quits £75k a year job to take ‘middle aged gap year’

Divorcee, 53, quit her £75K job to take ‘middle aged gap year’ after she lost interest in life when she found out she couldn’t have children – and says you’re ‘never too old’ to take risks

  • Tina Williams, 53, from Crawley, West Sussex, took a ‘middle aged gap year’
  • Divorcee quit her £75k a year job as an estate agent to tour countries such as Bali
  • She told how a seminar by life coach Tony Robbins, inspired her life change
  • Tina is now temping in various admin roles to fund her exploration of the world

A divorcee who quit her high-earning career to explore the world, has told how a three-day seminar run by a Netflix star inspired her to overhaul her life.

Tina Williams, 53, from Crawley, West Sussex, who received the heartbreaking news that she may never become a mother after two failed IVF attempts, in addition to her marriage ending, realised that her life was very different to the one she had mapped out for herself, despite having a high income. 

After meeting her ex-husband, the 53-year-old set the goal of becoming a mother, but sadly it wasn’t to be. The couple divorced in 2011. 

Following a stagnant and reclusive cycle of ‘work, eat, sleep, repeat,’  Tina’s turning point came as she attended a three-day seminar in April 2017, run by US philanthropist and life coach Tony Robbins, star of hit Netflix documentary I Am Not Your Guru, which inspired her to change her life.

After quitting work in March 2018, the former estate agent set off on a menopausal gap year, touring Australia, Bali and New Zealand, where she stayed in hostel dorm rooms, tents and camper vans. 

She said: ‘To anybody else out there, I’d say you just have to take risks, and you’re never too old – and that’s coming from a 53-year-old menopausal divorcee who has just come back from her gap year. 

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Tina Williams (pictured in Fraser Island, Australia), 53, from Crawley, West Sussex, told how a three-day seminar by life coach Tony Robbins, inspired her to quit her 75k a year job and go travelling

The 53-year-old (pictured in Australia) who divorced in 2011, dreamed of travelling the world in her youth but put the plans aside after meeting her ex-husband, who she does not wish to named 

Tina (pictured in Bali) says she came to the decision that if she wasn’t going to have children, she’d still need to do something equally amazing

Tina who returned to the UK in February 2019 after running out of money, and is now temping in various admin roles to save enough money to continue travelling. 

‘While travelling, I learnt so much about myself, and surprised myself so many times. 

‘There would be moments where I would be pitching up a tent or heating up soup on a tiny stove at the back of a camper van and just start giggling to myself, thinking, “If everyone at home could see me now”.

In her youth, Tina had dreamed of travelling the world during her youth, but life got in the way. 

After meeting her husband, she set herself the goal of becoming a mother, but sadly it wasn’t to be. 

‘Due to various complications with my anatomy, doctors told me that motherhood most likely wouldn’t happen for me.

‘I found it very difficult to get over. It almost closed my life off and I became really quite insular.’

The stress was a major contributor to the end of Tina’s marriage, she separated in 2009, before divorcing in 2011. 

‘Childlessness was a huge thing for me to come to terms with. Because my motherhood dream hadn’t come true, I almost lost interest in life – until I realised that, if I wasn’t going to be able to be a mum, I would need to do something equally amazing.

The former estate agent (pictured in Fraser Island, Australia) who was told by doctors that she may be unable to have children, counts stress among the factors that caused her marriage to breakdown 

Tina (pictured travelling) says she became bored with life and reclusive after finding herself single, despite moving into a new house with a new job 

After her divorce, Tina moved house and found a new job, hoping to jump-start her new life, but instead, she grew increasingly reclusive.

She continued: ‘I managed to get promoted quite quickly and was earning well, but the material things just weren’t enough.

‘I felt so bored with life, and couldn’t really see the joy in anything. 

‘I was good at being bubbly and personable at work, but as soon as I got into my car at the end of the day, I’d just switch off and retreat back home.

‘Because my job was commission-based, I was on it 24/7. There’d be times I was on the phone outside a cinema or restaurant closing a deal. I was exhausted – life was just work, eat, sleep, repeat.’

Tina (pictured at Tony Robbins’ even in Cairns) booked a ticket to Tony Robbins seminar in April 2017, after becoming determined to step out of her comfort zone

Tina says booking a trip to Tony’s Australia event (pictured) in February 2018 triggered her trip of a lifetime, as she provisionally booked non-refundable accommodation

The 53-year-old whose life was overhauled by her experience in Cairns (pictured), believes are equally afraid of success as they are of failure

Tina (pictured in Australia) admits she asked herself ‘Am I really doing this? Is this really happening?’, before making the life changing decision 

Everything changed in April 2017, when Tina booked tickets to a seminar run by Tony Robbins in London where, over three days, her life was ‘put under a microscope,’ making her determined to step out of her comfort zone and make some changes.

At that seminar, she noticed Tony Robbins was holding another event the following year, 2018, in Cairns, Australia – known as the gateway to the Barrier Reef – poignantly named Date With Destiny.

So, in August 2017, she took the plunge, provisionally booking a hotel, but after realising the money had actually gone out of her account, forcing her hand, in February 2018 she booked a ticket to attend the event – the trigger for her trip of a lifetime. 

‘I booked the tickets to Cairns and somewhere to stay, and sort of worked backwards. I thought to myself that if I was going to go all that way, I might as well take some proper time and see the world, so my trip just blossomed,’ she said.

‘The accommodation I had booked was non-refundable, which helped. That made it all real and gave me that sign that I was doing the right thing.

‘I didn’t set out too much of a plan for myself, which was exciting but scary at the same time. I often asked myself, ‘Am I really doing this? Is this really happening?’ 

‘But I think people can be as afraid of success as they are failure, and I am a big believer that when you are doing the right thing, life just flows.’

Tina recalls her loved ones having mixed reactions to her decision to seek adventure (flight view pictured) 

The divorcee (pictured in Australia) believes people are conditioned to think a certain way, she says some people thought her trip was temporary and she would have to come back to reality

Tina (pictured in Australia) quit her job in March 2018, relying on savings and budgeting to fund her trip 

Determined to leave her old routine behind, Tina recalls her loved ones having mixed reactions to her decision to seek adventure.  

She continued: ‘Most people knew I hadn’t been happy, so were very supportive.

‘However, I did face a lot of questions about security, what I’d do for money and why I was leaving behind a job where I could earn up to £75k a year.

‘I think some people saw it as a temporary trip that I’d eventually have to come home from, and come back to reality, but that just shows how conditioned we are to living a certain way.

‘So often, we walk around with our eyes shut, not realising there is more out there.’

Deciding she was going to rely on her savings – and ‘budgeting like crazy’ – to fund her trip, Tina quit her job in March 2018.

Then, in May, she set off for the other side of the world, renting out her house while she was gone.

After a month in Cairns, she spent a further four weeks driving down the coast to Sydney in a camper van, stopping off at a different beauty spot every night.

Tina (pictured in Bali) spent a month in Cairns, a month in Bali (pictured) and three months in Australia, followed by three months in New Zealand

Tina (pictured in Australia) spent time volunteering at Tony Robbins event in Sydney while enjoying Australia 

Next, she flew to Bali, where she stayed for a month, and to her delight enjoyed a holiday romance, before returning to Australia for three months – during which time she volunteered at a third Tony Robbins event in Sydney – then spending another three months touring New Zealand.

Speaking of her brief fling, she said: ‘Having closed my heart off to love, it was wonderfully surprising to embark on a holiday romance.’

Some of her most memorable adventures include watching a show at Sydney’s world famous Opera House, a visit to the picturesque Fraser Island and pitching up a tent for the first time since she was 14 to sleep under the stars on New Zealand’s north island.

A far cry from her cosy middle-classed life at home, she was wild camping or sleeping in a van or hostel dorm room.

She said: ‘Because I was on a budget, I stayed in a lot of hostel dorm rooms, which was an education.

Tina (pictured in Australia) who stayed in a number of hostels during her travels, says she relished the opportunity to speak with other people after living alone for a long time

Tina (pictured centre with friends she met travelling) says she was treated the same as everyone else, despite her age difference 

‘I’d lived on my own for so long, with all my creature comforts. I’d been used to peace and tranquillity. Now, all of a sudden, I was in bunk beds with six other people in my dorm, all coming and going at all hours.

‘But I’d shut myself away for so long, that I relished the opportunity to speak to anyone and everyone. The wonderful people I met along the way were one of the best things about travelling.

‘Now, my phone is full of new numbers of friends I have made from all over the world.’

And, though many of the people she met were younger than her, with gap years typically being the preserve of students and millennials, Tina insists that age was never a barrier.

She continued: ‘I was always treated the same as everybody else.

‘In Australia, I went on a three-day boat trip of the Whitsundays Islands and was definitely the oldest there.

‘I swam, snorkelled and partied with the rest of the group, who were mainly in their 20s and all lovely and encouraging.

The divorcee (pictured) believes her age made her bolder and braver, as she didn’t want to look past it 

The former estate agent claims travelling (pictured) solo brought out strength and resilience that she never knew she had

Tina says the trip helped to rebuild confidence and trust in herself, pictured: the tent she stayed in while travelling New Zealand

Tina who blogged throughout her travels, hopes to prove to others that age is not a barrier when it comes to seeking adventure 

‘In fact, my age probably made me braver and bolder, as I didn’t want to look like I was past it.’

Blogging as she went, Tina was determined to prove to others that you are never too old for adventure.

The former estate agent claims travelling solo on the other side of the world brought out strength and resilience that she never knew she had. 

She added: ‘I have no doubt that travelling saved my life. If I hadn’t gone, I’d probably still be miserable.

‘After spending so long dimming my own light, I rebuilt my confidence and trust in myself. I had to rely on my wits but knew I was able to keep myself safe and find my way around.

‘There is definitely a middle age gap year part two on the horizon. The dream would be to get sponsorship to be able to live in Australia, but I’d also love to see south east Asia – places like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

‘To anybody else out there, I would say, ‘Just take a chance, because if you set your mind to something, you can make it happen.’ It’s like that saying, ‘What if I fall? But what if you fly.’

The 53-year-old (pictured) believes travelling saved her life, she has no doubt that she would still be miserable if she didn’t go

Tina (pictured) who now has a phone filled with the numbers of friends from around the world, hopes to visit South East Asia 

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