January 01, 2013

One Year Without A Job

December 31 was exactly one year since I quit my job. For the last year both Skyler and I have been unemployed or as Skyler likes to call it FUN-employed. Before going on this adventure I used to often wonder what being unemployed would be like. I've been employed to some degree since I was fifteen years old, so it was hard for me to imagine. Would we have gobs of time? Would we get bored? Would we worry about money? Would I worry that we made the right decision? After all, we did quit our lucrative jobs in the middle of a deep recession…most people gave us the “you must be crazy” look when we first told them about our plans. Well, I gave it some though these past few days and I've come to the following conclusions.

In general, my life while being unemployed doesn't feel all that different from when I was employed.

The key part of that sentence is In General. Having a 40 hour a week job used to be such a fundamental part of my life. Just the time commitment by itself was a huge part of my life, let alone the responsibilities that came along with having the job. You would think that by removing such a key piece of my life would leave me feeling like something is missing. What I've found is that’s not the case. The transition for being employed to being unemployed went very smoothly for me. I woke up on my first day of freedom and it didn't feel all that different. I haven’t felt like something was missing on day one, day 180 or today, one year later. One big difference though is that I am able to relax now. I’m not worried about emails piling up while I’m on my vacation. I’m not worried about my co-workers needing to reach me while I’m out of cell-phone range. I’m not worried about having to go back to real life, because this is my real life.

It doesn't feel like I have any extra hours in the day now that I've got an extra 8 hours to play with.

This also goes along the point of how life feels the same. Somehow I manage to fill my day with activities and to-do list items. I rarely stumble on days where I have nothing planned and nothing to do. I’d say those days happen as often as they used to when I was still employed. What does feel different is how much time I can allot to activities now and how much enjoyment I can get while doing them. For example, I used to go for runs when I was employed, just as I do now. But, when I was employed, I felt rushed to get through my run. I often had to plan around my work schedule, thus causing me to feel like my run was less recreation and more workout. Now I have the opportunity to plan my other activities around my run. If the run feels particularly good, I can choose to go longer because I have much more control over my day. This freedom adds a whole new element to my run; I can focus on my form and breathing- be more in the moment.

It doesn’t feel all that weird to not have a job.

I was worried that not having a job would make us feel left out of society, like foreigners in a foreign land. I worried that I would feel like the world is moving on and we are standing still. Well, I can’t say that that point has bothered me anywhere near as much as I thought it would. We rarely experience awkward moments where we feel different because we are not at work from 8-5. When we go to the store during the day, there are still other shoppers there. When we go for a hike in the middle of the week, we still run into other people on the trail. Living in a world where mostly everyone else is busy during the week and we’re not hasn't been all that difficult to get used to; now we just have the choice to not get caught in rush hour traffic.

Lack of financial stability isn't as scary as I thought it would be.

Skyler and I are pretty prudent in our financial expenditures. Before setting off on this trip we put together a budget and planned to stick with it. Throughout the trip we have ended each month pretty close to what our projected budget was, and doing so has not been that hard. Once we established our spending pattern and saw that we generally stuck to the plan, we worried less.

In conclusion, I guess I would say this: being unemployed has been a lot more enjoyable and less stressful than I expected it to be. Today I feel a lot more content, in general happier than I think I used to be a year ago. I attribute a lot of these feelings to the fact that I have a lot more freedom, be it perceived or actual freedom. I feel like we've used the last year wisely; we accomplished many things on our bucket list. At this point I am equally excited about getting back into the real world with a real job in Portland or staying unemployed and continuing traveling as we have been. I am excited to explore the world further, go on adventures and expand my knowledge.

Who has time for all that with a full time job? :o)

Happy Fun-Employement,


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  1. Happy New Year! Enjoy your fun-employment, great phrase:)

    1. Thanks Rhonda! Happy New Year to you guys as well! I hope this year brings you lots of adventures!

  2. I love that FUN-employed :-)

    It is great to hear you are managing so well. I often wonder how full time travellers cope financially.

    1. Thanks Guy! Looks like you're quite the traveler yourself. :)

  3. Good on you both for having the courage to do it! Just looking at your photos is making me miss the U.S, our trip around your fabulous country has been a highlight of our trip so far. We've also found that we're just as busy as when we were working full time but you manage your time differently and don't have the stress of someone looking over your shoulder. It's a great life :-)

    1. Thanks Maddie, it sure is! I'm looking forward to reading more about your guys' adventures of your travels around the world!