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  • Writer's pictureMaruta Ignatoviča

Five Insights On Being Jobless On Purpose

Ever since I wrote my first blog about burning out and quitting my job to be jobless on purpose, people have been reaching out to me to share their stories.

I absolutely love it and giggle like an evil mastermind - it was exactly my goal!

Through these conversations, I want to learn from others how to navigate these vast plains of joblessness. You'd think it's a tropical paradise, but really it's a desert with the occasional palm tree and a pool. And as soon as you take a swim, it disappears and you're back wandering the desert.

That's how these weeks feel.

Yesterday I had a wonderful conversation with one of the people who reached out to me. They've been on a purposeful career break for more than a year now and I was eager to bask in their wisdom. They must be a pro, I thought!

In the end, it turned out they were as human as me, knowing some things and struggling with others.

I'll share with you my main insights from this and hopefully, they can help you too ♥️

Taking a break won't matter in the big scheme of things

I was explaining to my friend something that I've already mentioned to you guys - the fear of having wasted my life; of being 90 and on my deathbed, regretting the months I chilled on the couch on my small island.

But as I explained this to them, I suddenly realized that by the time I'm 90, these couple of months would not matter. If I take, let's say, a 6-month break and am lucky enough to live to 90, that's 6 months out of 1080. Way less than 1% of my life.

Why would I be angry at myself for taking a break for less than 1% of my life?

So, when in doubt, math helps!

Vulnerability makes you feel less alone

One of the first things I asked my friend was “How do you spend your days?”

I was scared to admit to them that for me these weeks are still a rollercoaster. Some days I am “productive”, some days I take naps. Which is wild because I've taken maybe 5 naps throughout my entire adult life, so this is a big change for me.

I was hoping I'll get a pro tip on productivity. But I learned the opposite - that they also struggle with this, except... They don't struggle. They just let themselves take it slow and rest, giving the body what it needs.

And it's been a year and they're still an awesome person. A.k.a. My life won't end if I am not productive each and every day.

So by being vulnerable, I got vulnerability in return and it showed me I am not alone - and it's okay to feel the way I feel.

Speaking of productivity … stop minimizing your achievements

What's our obsession with being productive every day anyway? We are not computers. We cannot work 24/7.

As I've already mentioned, I used to have a full-time job; studies (back to back Bachelor's and Master's degrees, while working full time), another job “on the side”, regular physical activities, like dancing or gym or yoga … and when I suddenly ended up with “just” a full-time job, I called it exactly that - “just”.

I am “just” working.

But we have to stop using the word “just”. You are not “just” a stay-at-home mom. That's a full-time job. You are not “just” working full-time, “with nothing else going on”. You maintain a clean home, keep yourself healthy and maintain relationships with other people - friends, family, and your partner. That's a lot of work.

The second most terrible phrase in this context is “on the side”. So you have a full-time job, and then you do “a Ph.D. on the side”. Or have another job “on the side”. Or write a novel “on the side”. + everything mentioned above that is involved in having good health and good social life.

And then we wonder why we're so exhausted!

A lot of people do these things full time - they study full time, do their PhDs full time, write their novels full time, and so on, without having a full-time job because these things are exhausting as it is. And we call these things "just" or "on the side"?!

I think I need to hear this more than you do because it took me years in therapy to realize I am constantly doing everything at the same time and minimizing the magnitude of it by using words like “just” and “on the side”. No more.

Even computers overheat way more often than we allow ourselves to.

I refuse to accept that that's the norm and that we should exist like this every day.

We're allowed to be just interested in things.

My wonderful conversation partner shared their frustration with the fact that they often get excited about something for a couple of weeks and then the excitement fades.

We quickly uncovered that we - the burnt-out workaholics and hustlers - have somehow trained ourselves to think everything needs to be a hustle.

And so every time we get passionate about something, the world (or just ourselves) tells us to monetize it. You like helping people? Turn it into a coaching business! You like cooking? Open your restaurant or at least a TikTok with a posting schedule! You like mixing cocktails? You should have a bar! You like a certain topic? Start a podcast on it!

No wonder the passion fades! My friend said, “It's like I'm suffocating my hobbies.”

But we are allowed to just be interested in things. Not everything needs to be monetized!

You can be passionate about anything, anything and not share it with the world. You can if you want to! But the world won't stop spinning if you just enjoy it and take the pressure off of it, without thinking how to make money from it.

Fear of failure shouldn't stop you

We ended up talking about the “next steps” and the pressure that comes from it.

We've both experienced it - when people hear you quit a job, for whatever reason, they usually mean well and say things like “Can't wait to see what you do next!” or “Your next venture will definitely be awesome!” or even “It's time for you to start your own business!” …… No pressure :)

My friend admitted that they have, in fact, a job offer - one that they are actually really excited about, but it would, in theory, be a “step down” from what they were doing before. And it's scary.

“What if they find out? I feel like I'd let everyone down if I accept it,” they said.

I shared my own example in return - I'm currently working on a passion project I never thought I would work on, because I only started doing it the last couple of years - a book of poems.

I am close to finishing it … and suddenly I notice I keep putting it off because finishing it would mean it's time to share it with the world. And that's scary AF!

What if everyone reads it and says it's shit and they're disappointed in me?

So I distract myself by doing other things - except the one I really want to do. And so does my friend - they'd rather accept a job more “in line” with their career if it means they won't let people down.

We also realized that it's not really other people we're scared of, but just of failure.

Doing something we really love means the stakes are higher and the failure - more painful. By never doing something we want to, we can always convince ourselves that once we do it, we'd be successful, while still playing it safe. Doing it - and risking either success or failure - would make it definite and we couldn't live in the illusion anymore.

So it's safer to... Well, play it safe. But saying “no” to things because we're afraid of what others will say, is a ridiculous, ridiculous thing.

They'll judge you for taking a job “below your last title”, and also for climbing the career ladder too fast, saying you only got the job through connections. They'll judge you for not turning out to be the Startup Superstar everyone expects you to be, and they'll judge you for turning out to be one and working too much. They'll judge you for sharing your vulnerability through poems and they'll judge you for never creating anything meaningful.

They'll judge you if you do and if you don't.

So might as well do.


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