An Escapologist's Diary. Part 1.

After two years of working in an office, I have handed in my notice. There are six more weeks before I actually have to clear my desk but already the sense of pending freedom is exhilarating.

It will be a three-month mini-retirement. I will travel, write and spend a not inconsiderable stretch of time in Montreal with my girlfriend. Together we’ll live the lives of Haruki Murakami characters: luxurious unemployment.

Two years work to earn three months of freedom is still a horrible injustice but I’m confident that this is just the beginning of a much longer escape plan and that eventually I’ll turn that ratio on its head. I’ll report back through these pages.

Colleagues have asked me how I feel. Do I feel anxious? Do I worry that I won’t be able to find another job when I get back?

The answer to both questions is a resounding No. As to how I feel, I feel great. I feel defiant, autonomous and (I’m sorry) slightly smug.

The key to not feeling anxious was to have an exit strategy. Confidence increases with your ability to predict outcomes. My quitting was not an impulsive act but the result of a careful plan. First, I came up with a clear idea of how I would spend a period of freedom. Next, I figured out what this would cost and resolved to save money accordingly.

I don’t worry that I won’t be able to find another job once the freedom runs out. My priority of the last two and a half years has been to garner a professional reputation: to strategically attend the right training sessions, to talk to remarkable people, to learn the professional language and to put together a great portfolio of work. In short, I’ve used the office as a ‘career gym’ to make myself re-employable.

And I do intend to work again. After a period of voluntary unemployment, even the most idle of us would prefer to act than to stagnate. Whether I will work in some sort of freelance/creative capacity or have to readjust to the harness again remains to be seen:

The best case scenario is that something will happen during my career break that will let me avoid office life forever. The change of scene and the expanses of free time may well allow me to devise a more permanent escape plan.

The worst case scenario is that I’ll have to return to life in the office and start all over again. But I’ll have travelled and written a book and had a big ole’ bite of freedom pie.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

3 Responses to “An Escapologist's Diary. Part 1.”

  1. Sherry says:

    Congrats on taking the big leap from briefcase to backpack! I love the fact that you feel “smug”! You are now the envy of all of your friends so enjoy it and hopefully it will energize you to a new career that you love! Good luck – I”ll be following your journey!

  2. Rob says:

    Yeah, I feel slightly guilty about feeling smug but it’s honestly just the sort of smugness you get at the end of a job done well. Thanks for stopping by the blog and for the very kind words. I’ll try and keep the posts regular!

  3. […] An Escapologist’s Diary, Part 1 – arguably the start of my personal escape story. Interview with Judith Levine – free content from our first print issue. What comes after escape? – brief suggestions of how to spend the good life. An Escapologist’s Diary, Part 11 – our weekend at the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. Never forget – what’s not to be missed about office life. Feminism and Escapology – Holly Meier explores the overlap. New Escapologist launch party – review and photographs from our Issue Two launch party in Glasgow, Scotland. […]

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