One year ago right around now, after ~four years with my company and 14 years in the professional workforce, I gave my boss four weeks’ notice of my last day of full-time employment.
I was part of the post-pandemic, Great Resignation movement: a wash of working people who quit without anything else lined up — some needed to leave toxic work environments, others wanted to spend more time with family, others still wanted to look for more flexible, more enjoyable, or more fulfilling work.
My goal was to reclaim my time and mental energy for my own endeavors, and boy… has it been an amazing journey. (14 countries so far this year!)
⭐ And if I were to sum up my first year of semi-retirement in one statement, it’s this: I am finally prioritizing myself. ⭐
And while this could be a side effect of the fact that no employer owns my workday, this is also me making a conscious choice…
I CHOSE TO RE-PRIORITIZE: I identified what matters to me, decided what I want in my life and how I’m going to live it, and I am doing it.
In 2022 (and beyond), I am putting myself first and advocating for myself like I never have before.
Now, I consider time to be my most precious commodity
It would be a mistake to think I am any more available because I am (intentionally) unemployed — in fact, I think the opposite is true.
When I worked, my days used to be filled with interruptions that got me off-track from my frame of mind, derailed my work, or burst my creativity bubble. I multitasked to such a degree that I wasn’t as effective as I wanted to be.
Now, I don’t respond to texts or DMs immediately. I regularly send calls from friends to voicemail. I can go offline without repercussions. I do this because there are things I like to do during certain hours of the day where I have the most clarity, concentration, and creativity, and I choose FOCUS.
Being protective of my time and energy is the biggest way I practice self-love and self-advocacy. A business contact, a romantic interest, an acquaintance, or anything else will not get my attention until I am willing to give it.
I’ve taken great strides to unburden myself from obligations, and what remains are satisfying and fulfilling responsibilities.
I am the healthiest I have ever been
I’m not my skinniest or my most muscular, but I am my healthiest: I have finally cured a decades-long eating disorder and dysfunctional relationship with food.
I haven’t committed to any specific fitness regimen or diet. I don’t abide by any rules or restrictions, which I have found to be my ticket to freedom (as a natural rebel, rules and restrictions do more harm than good). Instead, I am eating when and what my body wants (and, of course, I am no longer faced with work-related stress eating), and when I travel, I walk as much as I can, an average of six miles a day.
Playing a big role in this incredible progress is money, which may surprise you.
As you know, I am living off savings and investments during my break from traditional employment, and I no longer have a regular paycheck direct-deposited every two weeks. So, I tend to be more aware of what I am spending on food, and I eat (and spend) to satisfy.
In my past, I struggled with both anorexia and binge eating disorder. There were times I would eat next to nothing, and times that I would consume almost an entire loaf of bread or an entire carton of ice cream. Food was both a comfort and a punishment; now, food is enjoyment and fuel… and I consider that a huge win!
I eat what I want, including those “off-limits” or “bad” foods like carbs and sugar, but I’ll eat a serving and take the rest as leftovers. I mean, if I’m not hungry anymore, and the meal has done its job… why not enjoy it later, instead of waste that enjoyment now as I’m already satiated? But that’s not a rule, since I don’t like rules: sometimes I’ll go ahead and order a second croissant (if the first was worth every mouthwatering bite); and I won’t punish or beat myself up for it.
On that note, I am much more conscious of consumption and waste
I never used to think this way… and I’ll venture a guess most Americans don’t. I used to buy and waste so much, because of carelessness, impulse buying, a reliance on convenience, and the pervasive replace-it vs. fix-it (or clean-it) attitude. For example:
- I’m very thoughtful about the amount of groceries I pick up when I live nomadically: I don’t want to be left with a full fridge at the end of my stay, so I’ll buy less, even if it means more frequent visits to the store (lesson learned!)
- If I’m out and about and already buzzed, there is no need to spend the money and calories on another beer, even if everybody else is ordering one
- If my wardrobe is suitable, buying another jacket or another pair of shoes is unnecessary, whether or not something is cute, on sale, or if advertising has tried to convince me I need it
- I’ll repair a tear or stitch on a button instead of buying anew — and I weigh every purchase
- I hardly ever pay extra for convenience or urgency: nine times out of 10, I’ll take a bus over a taxi and pick up food over having it delivered
It may be unpopular and very anti-American, but I’m doing my part to waste less and fight consumerism.
I am 100% at peace with being single
I was on the phone with a close girlfriend when I came to understand this truth: I am really at peace with being single, and getting coupled up is not on my immediate to-do list.
I realized this as I was trying to share all the interesting and upcoming professional opportunities coming my way, and my friend kept steering the conversation back towards discussing a guy I had dated recently. It was well-meaning, of course; for her, a relationship was top of mind — finding a partner IS on her immediate to-do list — so she wanted to hear what I thought about our future, would I be seeing him again, and so on.
I, on the other hand, had completely moved on from thinking of him in any immediate, forward kind of way (beyond fondness for the time we spent together), and I was much more excited about my entrepreneurial aspirations!
While I’m open and optimistic about finding love, I’m not actively looking for it. This means I’m turning down (or naturally uninterested in) quite a few interested parties in which either the person or the timing doesn’t seem right. That being said, I do date. When I want to. When I have a little free time, or when I feel like getting to know someone better. Everything unfolds as it should, when it should.
Overall, do I regret anything about my career break?
If you can’t tell already… I have absolutely zero regrets about embarking on this time off, made possible through years of saving and hustling. I love my free time, my physical and emotional health is great, and I’m at totally peace with my jobless, homeless, and boyfriend-free status. And I am beyond excited about my future prospects and whatever the universe blesses me with!
If you’re considering taking a career break but are hesitating, please leave a comment (or a DM) — I might be able to help ease your concerns. ❤️