Just over three months ago I left my job. I had been unhappy for a while and some changes were coming up that I felt were going to make me unhappier still. Therefore when the opportunity came up to take a (teeny tiny!) redundancy and not fight my beloved colleagues for a job I didn’t want anyway, I grabbed it and ran for the door. Freedom!
I’m sure I’ve learned some actual work-related stuff in this time but – yawn – whatever. These are a few of the things I’ve learned about myself that I wasn’t expecting.
1. I see money really differently when it’s coming from savings instead of a paycheck
Now don’t worry, I haven’t started denying myself life’s basic necessities or anything but this change has had a significant impact on how I view all my spending. It really hammered home something that Bridget Casey of ‘Money After Graduation’ published about the amount of money you will earn and spend in your whole life. Although my current financial set-up is temporary, perhaps if we viewed our money this way more often – as a finite resource rather than a pot that can be refilled with the next influx of money – we would spend it differently? I also wonder if this altered view of money will persist when I revert to getting more regular paychecks or whether my new ‘moneyvision’ will slowly ebb away until I am back to my previous viewpoint.
2. Sleep isn’t my real problem. Stress is.
I have always been someone who often struggles to get to sleep, stay asleep during the night, or sleep in late, even when I’m exhausted. Since leaving my job however, I’ve become aware of just how much of my insomnia was stress related. While I am clearly a light sleeper and prone to my sleep patterns getting out of whack, once I quit my job I started feeling the physical benefits of the lack of stress almost immediately, and started having more and more frequent nights of relatively solid sleep.
Now I realise that quitting work is not really a solution; I am still actually working now anyway (freelance), although I had saved a good pot of money before quitting which has allowed me to take it easy for the first few months. The revelation is that I was clearly considerably more stressed than I realised, and had I recognised that at the time I would have done more to address the impact it was having on me. Instead I fobbed off my mental health by saying to myself that I was ‘just a bad sleeper’. If, when I return to an increased work schedule, I fall back into terrible sleeping patterns again at least I will know what is causing it and can tackle my stress accordingly. Because, after getting all this sweet sweet sleep, I cannot go back!
3. I’m definitely more motivated for other people than I am for myself
I guess this would have to be filed under something I’ve ‘re-learned’ rather than learned afresh. All through college and university I was a terrible student, as stated in my bio I am indeed a slob, and I’ve always struggled to dedicate time and energy to pursuits that are focused on my own development. Somehow though, after killing myself sometimes 60+ hours a week in a job that was no longer rewarding, I suppose I thought that finding motivation while working for myself would be easier than it had been ever before. I was so wrong. The projects that I’ve picked up for other people since I went freelance have received much more attention from me than the projects and bids I am developing completely under my own steam. I am ever so slightly horrified by my evidently cavalier attitude to my own goals so have resolved to do better. I am now working on strategies and tricks to address this, and hope to share some of these another day.
4. My partner and I get on better than I give us credit for
Consider your relationships with colleagues: you generally a.) spend 8-12 hours a day, 5 days a week sitting just a few feet from them, and b.) witness them in situations such as getting a whole world of pain thrown at them by their boss on a Monday morning before they’ve even had a coffee. It is my strong belief that the reason so many people forge lasting relationships with colleagues – both romantic and platonic – is that if you still want to hang out with someone recreationally after all this, then it’s likely that you can cope with them at their worst and therefore make a strong pairing.
Would my partner and I fare as well in this situation? Yes, it turns out actually. Now we are not one of those couples that never fight (perhaps that why I was concerned to begin with…) but the level and frequency of any arguments has not increased since I left my job, and in fact has probably actually gone down, no doubt as a result of the aforementioned reduced stress levels and increased sleep. Score!
What has leaving a job (for retirement/a new job/parental leave/any other reason) taught you?
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Final revelation: I finally get people’s love of house clothes – MC Hammer slouchy pants for the win!