So You’re Planning to Quit Work?

In a month, I already listened to dozen of stories of newly-resigned friends who are now pursuing their own personal goals. One of them confessed that she has started to feel the weight of having “unemployed” status. Another was feeling awkward when she was bombarded with questions of “So, what do you do now?”

This made me flashback on the experiences and lessons I learned during the year I was unemployed.

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Be aware of the signs that may help you in your journey. – Insadong, South Korea

When I was considering quitting work in 2014 to be unemployed for a year, man, I received a lot of discouraging comments and uncomfortable stares. I knew it. I knew I was crazy.

But I did it, anyway.

But then again, doing it anyway comes with a few practical preparation.

If you are in this season, let me share what I did first before enjoying my despedida party. =)

Getting Real With A Goal

To be unemployed is like skydiving without parachute – freeing but risky.

Knowing this, my first and most important advice is accept without guilt your reason and then set up a goal around your reason. Being unemployed is always seen as passing up opportunities.  But if you are going to complete a goal, then you’re not passing up any. Simple.

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A messy journey you need. – Tuguegarao, Philippines

I quit because I chose to pursue of a lifelong work in international relations. This is my dream. This was my reason. But I can’t start investing on it if I don’t quit a work that was very unrelated. So my goal was to finish my aging MS thesis, pass JLPT and then get a job first in international development.

If you want to study full time, do it. If you want to focus on a business, do it. If your goal is to wind down, well, DO IT. As long as you have a goal and are serious in completing it, it is fine. My friend resigned because she needed a rest. I said, “Go ahead. You need to rest, do it.” I (and her bosses) believe she was doing great in her job but she needed a rest. And it is ok because by the time she is recharged she will be a more efficient employee. Taking a rest is more productive than grudging to work with exhaustion.

So whatever your goal will be, be serious about it. Work your ass off in doing it. Be so afraid of not completing your goal that you will do everything you can to finish it.

Review Your Status

Reality check.

 

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No. Not your relationship status. Your financial status. – Bataan, Philippines

Financially, what’s your status? Most people work for money. And it is good. Money enables us to exchange for things we need to complete our goal. Resigning from work, thus, should make you feel the need to review your savings. For breadwinners, quitting will be a lot harder.

What is important here is you review your finances.

Might as well continue your current work? Do not resign? That’s your call. What is important here is you review your finances. Being knowledgeable is powerful. It will show you where exactly your start is in this journey.

Draw Your Plan

When you are not financially capable, you may feel discouraged and eventually decide to throw resignation in trash. But, wait. You’ve got a good reason, right?

So, stay calm and sit down, grab a pen and paper and then strategize.

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Mapping out your activities will keep you on track. – Osaka Castle, Japan

First, map out your activities on a calendar. Jot down in the days the things you have to do to complete your goal. My calendar last year was jam-packed with readings, presentations, data gathering and analysis and Japanese lessons. I also included fun stuff like movies and ice cream.

 

There will come a point when you will feel guilty for having fun while unemployed. But, like other people who are beating deadlines in office, you are also beating your own deadline. If they are having dinner in a good restaurant, then you should also enjoy it few times. Remember, what you are doing is completing your goal.

Plus, when you are working on your own goals, you become more determined on doing great masterpieces. So it is all good to enjoy a late night movie marathon in HBO while unemployed. (And because you don’t have to wake up early the next morning, right? Kanpai!)

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Treat yourself an ice cream for finally doing the hardest thing. – Narita International Airport, Japan

Second, allot an estimate cost for each of the activities. Oh yes. Tedious, I know, but this will help you know how much you need while you are “unemployed”.

Once you know your total cost, you can proceed with how you can manage it. You can lower the number of fun activities or find other activities that will cost you lesser. You can adjust the schedules of your activities in such a way that you will only spend lesser. Or maybe you can consider working as a part time consultant or do some gigs in your hobbies. Read finance-related websites like Dailyworth. There are also many articles and books that can help you to finance and increase your savings.

So, stay calm and sit down, grab a pen and paper and then strategize.

Third, set a mindset. Mine is “Goal Completion is already ongoing.”

Time will come when people around will think you’ve got a lot of free time (aka bum). But you know, you don’t. You’ve got a goal to complete. If you need to finish a business plan by the end of a week, prioritize it first. Having a mindset will help you filter out all the activities that you don’t need to do.

Build new disciplines

You’ve got a plan. You actually have a detailed one. Now, build the disciplines.

 

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Cafes can boost your creativity and productivity. – Heyri Art Village, South Korea

How can you execute successfully your plan without building the right disciplines? Depending on your plan, write down all the disciplines that you need to arm yourself with. Post them on your wall or write them down on your planner so you will always remember why you are unemployed and will not waste time for the things that will not help you finish your goal.

Now, build your disciplines.

Few examples are:

For money,

  • When you go out, bring the exact amount you will only need.
  • When working in a coffee shop, order tea. (reuse teabag for a refill of hot water)

For productivity,

  • When you’re at home, work far from your bed.
  • When you’re online, spend less on social media.

 For motivation,

  • When you feel outcast during conversation about work, remember your goals.
  • When you feel insecure for having no professional work, remember you are doing something you will be proud of in no time.

Know your support

Because you will need it.

A lot of it (if I must say).

In the age where having professional work is an indication of career success, the status of “unemployed” will devalue your self-worth in many ways.

I honestly didn’t want to join my friends when they want to get together because I was sure we will talk about their work. I wanted to be with them but listening to them makes me want to be in the loop of corporate work again.

“Maybe it was a bad decision” was often my thought. When I feared my thesis will never be finished, I thought I should have not resigned from my job. When I feel insecure, I often said “I am going to take any job!” Working on my own goals without an assurance if I can meet success was risky and overwhelming and this often made me feed myself with false stability instead of faith.

In the age where having professional work is an indication of career success, the status of “unemployed” will devalue your self-worth in many ways.

Good thing was, I have two friends who also resigned in the same year. We talked a lot. We shared all the fears of not having enough money to spend, doubts if we will succeed in the goal we set and indecisiveness if we were just acting spoiled brats. We spent months consulting, comforting and supporting each other.

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Be with people who will dream with you. – Arashiyama, Japan

Another is to elicit concrete support from your family. Whether you’re a breadwinner or not, it is very important to discuss with your family your situation, your needed adjustments, basically, everything about your reason and plan. This becomes more important when you still live with them. You don’t want to build any misunderstandings just because you are pursuing your goals. Love them but continue to dream.

Lastly, be your own support. We are all human who always start as weaklings but end up powerhouses if we let ourselves take risks. You will feel weak all throughout the journey. You will only have yourself tapping on your shoulder and saying “Keep going” in most times. But by going through uncertainties, I assure you, will eventually make you a strong accomplished person.

I did it. And you can, too. I finished my thesis and graduated my master’s degree in Engineering Management last February. I also passed the N3 level of Japanese language proficiency exam. Because of completing these two goals, I can now teach in college or teach Japanese language. But the most unbelievable result of my “unemployed” status is I am now working in an international development organization that uses my skills to directly contribute in different cultures.

 

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Do what you’re aching to do. – Kaihinkouen, Japan

Pretty challenging, right? But you can do it!! Work and celebrate your life.

4 thoughts on “So You’re Planning to Quit Work?

  1. This is a great post to read, thanks! There is so much to consider before you make such a dramatic change and you’ve set it out in a way that makes it manageable. I would add one thing, once you’ve done all the thinking/planning/strategising, and that is to believe in yourself and the fact you will get by and can readjust if things don’t go to plan. I took the leap once, quitting a full-time job to go to a short-term part-time contract with a mortgage and no idea what would happen after that. The thing I found most astonishing was what someone I worked with wrote on my farewell card “I envy your leap into the unknown”. It made me realise I was both brave and, more than anything, lucky to be able to take a chance on changing my life. I haven’t looked back since.

    Like

    • Yes! I agree with you. Things might not go as planned which exactly happened to me. I marked on my planner that I should have a job at the start of the year. My savings can only feed me that far but I was more in faith that I already have gone so far to just accept any job beside my target industry. So what I did is I readjusted my schedule and became more creative on my remaining savings.

      Congrats on a job well done, dear! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved reading this post. I’m not even working yet (will be in my senior year), and maybe it’s just senior sickness, but I’ve been thinking hard lately if I chose the right course. I’ve always wanted to be an engineer and said the arts was just a hobby (Oh god, my two interests ended up being too diverse). What you wrote gave me hope that once I know what I really want, I can pursue into that industry. But first, I have to graduate. Haha.
    Caffeine Rush

    Like

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