What if you should just leave your job and go to the other side of the world to live your dream? That is what Maria Paulsson Rönnbäck did. Here she shares her story about her yoga- and surf adventure in Sri Lanka.
About a year ago I did something that at the time felt like the most stupid thing I could ever do for my career. I quit a job I had thought of as a dream job. It was a well paid founder role at a hyped social impact tech start-up. On the paper it looked perfect, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I was in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing. I’ve always had a constant longing to be close to nature and the one thing I knew was that I wanted to live by the ocean and to surf. A couple of months later I left Sweden for a six month employment in Sri Lanka. I was going to work as Sales & Marketing Manager for Sunshinestories and Ceylon Sliders, a surf and yoga retreat and a boutique hotel, founded by two fellow Swedes, Linn and Petter. I had met the couple on a surf trip to Sri Lanka a few years back and found their lifestyle so inspiring. They seemed to live the ultimate life, combining entrepreneurship, surf and yoga. And what was more, it took place on the beach underneath the palm trees.
Let go of the excuses
Today I laugh about how difficult the decision to leave Stockholm felt at the time, and yet how easy it was to make the actual move. I understand I was in a fortunate position to get an amazing job in Sri Lanka, but still booking a flight ticket and find someone who could take care of my apartment wasn’t that difficult at all. It was just a bunch of ideas and excuses in my head that had stopped me before. Going to Sri Lanka and working with Sunshinestories and Ceylon Sliders, is probably one of the best decision I’ve made in my life. Working with two things I love, surf and yoga was of course amazing. But most importantly, I learned things about my self, that I would not have done if I had stayed in Stockholm.
When arriving in Sri Lanka I promised myself two things. First, to skip all the ”extras”, and secondly not to make any decisions about what to do when the six months came to an end. Let me explain the ”extras”. This was my endless list of to-dos and side projects, that I of course had with me to Sri Lanka. Start a travel blog, learn how to edit videos for Youtube, learn Sinhalese, start company X, start company Y, read this book, watch more surf videos, learn handstands, take an ayurvedic course. All this I'd planned to do besides my full-time job as a Sales and Marketing Manager. I realized if I were to do all this, I wouldn’t have time to enjoy life and to surf, which I had been dreaming about. So I decided my daily activities were going to be surf or yoga, work, eating curry and enjoying the sunset. Nothing more. Also, since I lived in accommodation provided by my employer, I didn’t have to worry about paying bills or thinking about how to decorate the house. I mean, how much time do Swedes spend decorating their homes? It’s ridiculous!
Basically my life was very simple. I didn’t cook and since there were no shops in the fishing village where I lived, I didn’t spend much time shopping, besides buying beer and food. Adding to that it took me two minutes to get to work and to the yoga shala, and five minutes to the local surf break. Having decided not to plan my next step in life, also meant I didn’t spend time working on my CV, contacting companies and applying for jobs. As a result I had time to just think and my mind wandered without any specific direction. It was like I had a playground to explore the ideas and I had the time to do it. I had so much time, and I felt so free.
Trust me, I’m the queen of planning and being one step ahead. When coming home to Sweden after the six months in Sri Lanka, it was the first time since leaving highschool 15 years ago that I didn’t have a plan and a next step already figured out.
Letting go of the extras and taking a break from planning my life was that big deep clean I really needed. Without really trying to find myself (I just worked and surfed) I gained insight into how I want to live my life. I think I also defined what happiness means to me. It is being perfectly content with where you are without wanting to be anywhere else than in a smelly little fishing village called Weligama right by the Indian Ocean.
Let yourself just be
I can truly recommend everyone to give yourself a gap year. I mean, really give your self a year of NOT thinking so much about who you are, the meaning of life, maybe not digging so much. Just be. Do things you like together with people you like. And it will come to you.
If you feel like going abroad for work, I can definitely recommend Sunshinestories and Ceylon Sliders as a employer, and Sri Lanka as your playground. Sunshinestories has recently opened up for the opportunity to host your own yoga retreat at their venue, a beautiful Dutch colonial villa in a buddhist little village in South Sri Lanka. The villa has a newly build lush yoga shala feeling like you’re in the jungle and has high quality props and mats. The delicious home cooked food is made with organic veggies and fruits from the local market. If you fancy a Sri Lanka yoga adventure for your retreat or teacher training program, send a message at email@example.com .
Hope reading this has given you some food for thoughts, I you want to follow my next adventure or ask any questions, you’ll find me on Instagram @mariaelvirapr.
Read more about yoga and health
- On the Pursuit of Slackness, by Frida Boström
- What is my path cultivating?, by Luke Bache
- Going outside, being lost, and staying found, by Frida Boström
More about Maria
Maria Paulsson Rönnbäck is a yogi and entrepreneur. Maria found yoga when she was working in India. She immediately realized what a powerful tool it is was for increased well-being in a stressful everyday life. After this first trip to India Maria has been to a number of yoga retreat around the world, often combining yoga with surf, which is her other great passion in life. Her passion brought her to Sri Lanka in 2017 where she lived and worked to grow local companies and started a technology project for Sri Lankan children, Lankan Tech Kids.
Contact or read more about Maria on Instagram.