My 5 month career break…

I recently had a career break that lasted almost 5 months. When I left my previous job, I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get another one, but I definitely underestimated how hard it would be! Maybe a bit naively, but I think part of me assumed I would just walk into the first job I applied for. Of course, it’s not that simple – which did lead to some frustrations, feeling like I would never get a job and at times struggling to feel motivated.

I tried keeping to a rough routine, which I think really helped me stay positive and feel normal during this time. I decided to only apply to jobs between Monday and Friday and have the weekends completely off. At first I was optimistic and thought I’d be applying for jobs for most of the day, but I soon realised how exhausting and unsustainable that would be, so I mainly worked on job applications in the mornings. This left me the afternoons and evenings to work on other projects, enjoy my hobbies and do general household chores. It was a routine that worked for me and I felt excited waking up every day even if I didn’t have any particular plans.

There were a few drawbacks to being off work for 5 months of course. The most obvious one perhaps being having no income. I realise I am in a very lucky position to have been able to not work for 5 months and not have to worry too much about it, thanks to my partner. Although I am not hugely materialistic or particularly spend much money, I did realise how much I missed having a disposable income. I had taken for granted not worrying about going out for meals, out with friends or treating myself to new food items in the supermarket. One way I combated was to be creative – myself and my boyfriend had cheap or free dates such as a homemade Beatles tour, or cooking our favourite meals for each other. I also saw friends in cheaper ways, such as inviting someone over for dinner rather than going out for dinner. In some ways, I felt a bit like a student again – not having a job or a proper routine, being able to get drunk on a weekday with no consequences, having to be creative in how I had fun and went out. Something else I did was made a list of all the things I thought to myself ‘I can’t wait to do that when I have money’, so I had lots to look forward to and now I am excited to start ticking things off the list!

Despite these minor challenges, I really enjoyed my time off. I am the sort of person who doesn’t tend to get bored and always finds ways to keep busy. For example, I started attending weekly art lessons which again added to my routine and gave me something to work on. On top of this, I continued attending my vegan group that meets on a weekly basis. I enjoyed having at least these two things in the calendar to have some sense of a routine.

A couple of months in, I decided to do some volunteering for a few different reasons. Firstly, to gain some experience for my job hunt, secondly as I always enjoy volunteering and giving my time to a worthy cause, and also just to fill some more of my time. During this, I taught myself how to use the basics on canva which I have loved using.

I also decided to take part in a 10K race for charity, which gave me something else to work towards as I had never ran that far in my life!

I knew that this was likely going to be the last time I’d have any significant break from work in years and so I wanted to enjoy it and make the most of it. I spent lots of time reading, and you can read about the books I enjoyed here, I taught myself to knit, I became obsessed with the Vampire Diaries, I cooked, went on walks, and just generally enjoyed having free time to myself. I value my own time very highly in life and need quality alone time to re-charge. A lot of people I spoke to said they would struggle being off work for several months but I genuinely didn’t get bored once.

In general, this career break was a time in my life that I will remember fondly. One in which I had time to myself, I enjoyed and I made the most of.

I would love to hear from you if you have ever had a period of time off work, how you found it. Or if you haven’t, what you think you would get up to?


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