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.