4+ months without a job; some observations on our Career Break

Written by ryan

Topics: Thoughts on having a real job

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We’ve written mostly about our travels on this blog, but we thought that after recently passing our 4 month anniversary of quitting our jobs it would be good time to write a little about what it feels like to be unemployed.  Not having a job is an interesting experience, especially with such an abrupt change after the super high intensity jobs that we left.  Our feelings about it have gone through a sort of cycle over time:

Month 1:  Honeymoon period

Weeks 1-2:  Like a normal vacation–high intensity site seeing

Weeks 3-4:  Time to relax–basking in the glow of not having to get up in the morning

Month 2:  Need something to work hard on  (e.g., studying Spanish)

Month 3:  Getting more comfortable with downtime.  Beginning to wonder how long it will be until we start getting bored

Month 4:  Lots of downtime.  Starting to get bored and feel a little bit like we are in limbo;  beginning to think about future

Month 5:  ?

Current observations

These will likely continue to evolve (see #5 below), but as of now at midnight after a glass of wine, here are some current observations on what it’s like to be without a job for a little over 4 months (in no particular order):

  1. No more back/neck pain–we thought we were just getting old, but it turns out it was the job.  Now we feel younger and more energetic all the time, the difference is amazing.  It took 2+ months for this to be noticeable
  2. In the absence of a job, some things that used to be exciting diversions now feel like work–e.g., planning a trip
  3. Time goes by very quickly, no matter how you spend it
  4. Eating in restaurants all the time makes you want to not eat in restaurants
  5. Perspective takes time and distance and it doesn’t stop evolving
  6. Rehab is the right word for the process–it takes time and has many ups and downs; if you don’t stick to it, you don’t get anything out of it
  7. A few weeks away is NOT enough for a meaningful reset
  8. It takes effort to force yourself to not have relapses and seek out other things to optimize/achieve/stress about (e.g., mastering Spanish, planning every detail of a trip, etc.)
  9. Different things matter; life is short
  10. With this much time to think, it’s easier to see what really matters; and without the distractions of a busy life/job/etc. it’s much easier to incorporate these realizations into your daily life and future plans
  11. We used to be very “driven.”  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re going to be driven, make sure that the destination is a place you want to go (hint:  if you’re not enjoying the ride, it’s probably not)
  12. Student loans are a bitch
  13. Not having a cell phone is awesome
  14. It is borderline criminal that there are not empanada delivery joints in the US

Career Breaks and Lifestyle Design

All in all, we would highly recommend this type of sabbatical or career break or whatever you want to call it to anyone.  I’ve been reading a lot about a growing movement called Lifestyle Design which is essentially the idea of getting creative to proactively design the kind of life that you want rather than pick from one of the established paths; many proponents highly recommend “Career Breaks” like this on a relatively frequent basis.  I’m intrigued.

I’ll be writing more about this and providing links to success stories as I explore it further; here are a few for starters:






Anyone else out there have any experience with this?  Thoughts??

Please leave a comment, it will make us feel special!

  • jessica July 5, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Ryan. I LOVE this blog and love what you’re doing. And I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve had to say above– I officed out of my home for 5 years and then took a crazy corporate job where i Basically dread work everyday… I love what I do, but I HATE going in there… hate the suit, the heels, the politics, the chair, the cube… I never once dreaded Monday when I was working from home. I was fit, thin, happy, healthy… BALANCED…. I cooked all my meals, my house was clean, laundry done, dog walked, relationship good, etc… I just came off a week of working at home due to a (very) minor surgery and I can’t BELIEVE how great I feel just from not having to deal wiht the BS… and the punchline is that I got more WORK done from home than I ever could in my office!

    Anyway, I love reading about your adventure… keep writing…

    ~jessica (Seaberg)

    • ryan July 8, 2010 at 11:07 am

      Awesome, and great to hear from you!

  • Amanda Cooper July 5, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Ryan, this is incredible what you two are doing! I have been on maternity for 9 months now, we get a year in the UK, and it is surprisingly similar (the time away from work aspect at least). Thanks for the links, it is just the thing I have been looking for while contemplating my return to work. Hope you are still enjoying it!

    • ryan July 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

      Cool, good luck with your return to the working world. Hope all is well!

  • Dan H. July 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    9/10/11 – this a thousand times over. Well, those, and empanadas.

  • Blaire July 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm


  • Sherry Ott July 5, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Some great insights here – so glad you sat and ‘took stock’ of how you were feeling and document the process of letting go – or rehab as you call it.
    I experienced many of the same things on my career break – minus the empanadas since I was in Asia!

    I love your #2 and totally agree with you about #1. Taking #1 a step further – once I was on career break my sleeping, and general health all improved immensely – thanks to the lack of stress.

    Also – thanks for linking to our article on Bootsnall! I definitely look forward to following your progression into lifestyle design!

    • ryan July 8, 2010 at 11:06 am

      Hi Sherry,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! We’re big fans of your blog! Thanks for all of the inspiration!


  • Bryan Farris July 7, 2010 at 2:21 am

    its very good to know about #1. I also LOVE #7. Well done. I want a year off now

  • Kyrsten July 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I know – start an empanada delivery service upon your return!! I am on board 100%…

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