6 Things I’ve learned from 6 months without a job

christ the redeemer - 6 months without a job

I’m lying, it’s just short of 6 months but a post titled 5.5 months without a job doesn’t have the same impact. So yes, I’m a little early but if I didn’t write it now I would probably forget.

For those of you who have only just stumbled upon my site, I quit my boring crappy job at the start of the summer and to be honest I didn’t have an exact plan. Well I kind of knew that I wanted to start teaching guitar but I had no idea how to get that started. So basically I did the very responsible grown up thing of walking out of a job without anything lined up.

Go me!

If you haven’t yet seen them, I have written a variety of posts detailing both my story and various ‘how to quit your job‘ articles which you can read by downloading my ebook over there on the top right hand side of the screen. Quick, go take look.

Almost six months on I now give regular lessons and I have a fledgling secondary income which I won’t talk about just yet. Sadly it’s nothing exciting or dangerous, which is a shame. Anyway, I better move on to the point of the article.

6 Things I’ve learned from (almost) 6 months without a job!

1. Time flies by so damn quickly

I read somewhere, I really can’t remember where it was but I’m almost certain it was legit, that the less new stimuli our brain receives the faster our days will appear to pass. That’s why as we get older time seems to fly by and as kids those long awesome summers were, well, long and awesome. It was a new experience.

Sitting at home glued to my laptop and teaching guitar can start to get a little repetitive. Nowhere near as bad as sitting in a cubicle for example and I’m certainly not moaning but a certain daily rhythm can be set.

In one way this is good as it feels like I am motoring towards my goals that little bit faster but in another sense, it also feels like there are only 18 hours in a day. So I quit my job and now I just can’t seem to find the time.

Take note Alanis. THAT is irony.

2. Money just seems to… appear?

When I left my job I had a certain number in the bank. I’m not going to reveal that number because;

A. It isn’t any of your business and…

B. It totally would be your business if it was an impressive figure. But it wasn’t so get over it.

Anyway, it was a decent amount to live on for a few months but I was certain that sooner rather than later I would have to dine out with the local hobo’s.

This hasn’t happened yet, and I’m not sure why.

You see pretty much every month since then, the amount in my bank account has remained pretty constant. Every time it has taken a hit, within a week or two I receive a little windfall from somewhere. I would take on a bunch of students or sell a few articles and everything gets back to normal. I don’t expect sorcery to be involved here, but that would be cool wouldn’t it?

3. My motivation levels are all over the place

The first 6-8 weeks of my self-imposed workforce exile was insanely productive. I taught myself how to build a website, how to market and promote myself and not just that but I went to the gym most days and continued to teach myself German.

I was a machine.

The machine needs fixing.

As time went on my motivational levels started to fluctuate, and I suppose this is normal. Nobody can keep up an insane work ethic 24/7 and I expected my output to falter at some point. The trouble is that getting back into the groove is proving pretty tricky. I suppose that I am in a little bit of a rut but every few days I hit my stride again and blast out some articles or do some promotion. I have just learnt how to maximise these windows of opportunity and when I wake up without any energy, to not fret about it. These feelings will pass.

4. I wasn’t prepared enough for the ‘pain period’

Following on from the above, I think everyone at some point will enter what has come to be known as the ‘pain period’. Doesn’t it sound lovely?

The way I interpret this is that it’s the time when your motivation starts to waiver and you start wondering if it is worth the hassle. You’re putting in all this effort and hard work but have yet to see any meaningful results. Yeh okay, I am now making a liveable income doing something that I enjoy and that is great and everything but it’s not enough money for a good quality of life (in case you didn’t know I chose to move back home before starting).

I’ll be honest and say that every day I battle with the thoughts of whether I should get a job. If I did this would I be a quitter? Or would I simply be sensible and normal?

Screw you sensible and normal. You will not get the better of me!

See what I mean? In the space of 30 seconds I pondered giving up and then decided not to. It’s okay though, these doubts are normal and I know that if I stick with this, I will be rewarded one day. I just hope that day comes soon or I’ll be hitting up those hobos. (Do they have phones?)

5. It becomes easier to tell people what you do

The funny thing with quitting your job is that you always meet people and they ask you what you do, and it seems like life throws these people at you the VERY MOMENT you quit. “Couldn’t you have asked me last week when I was a normal functioning member of society? Damn you all”

To be honest, I felt a little awkward, both when meeting new people and catching up with old friends. People responded with reactions ranging from; “you crazy fool” to “wow I wish I could do that”, and everything in between.

Almost 6 months on I now make money from teaching guitar and writing, and while it isn’t a lot, I can tell people that I am a musician and I’m a writer without feeling like a fraud. I have covered this before in the article ‘you are not your job‘, but it sure feels better when you’re not a slave to the minimum wage.

6. Having a job really sucks

It does, let’s not lie to ourselves here. Okay most jobs suck. Mine did, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

If you have a job that you enjoy then good luck to you and well done for being the object of my insane jealousy. Don’t balls it up, keep it and good things will only happen to you.

Now back to me.

Yes my motivation levels go up and down and I’m currently in the middle of the ‘pain period’ but when I sit down and think back to earlier this year, I was really unhappy. This wasn’t a fluctuating level of unhappiness either but a constant feeling of total resentment for where I worked and everything around me. Right now I don’t feel stressed at all. My blood pressure is so low it’s bordering on being unhealthy. I don’t have any feelings of dread when I wake up in the morning.

This is why I do what I do. Will it last? Who knows, I may be forced at some point to get a job if this doesn’t pan out the way I had hoped. I am doing my degree right now in computer programming as a backup career to future proof myself.

So far so good, let’s see what happens next.

About Jamie

Jamie is a guitar teacher and writer who hates the typical 9-5 existence. After quitting his job to enter the world of guitar tuition, he created this blog to document his thoughts and struggles as he takes on societies norms armed with nothing more than his cheeky wit and undeniable charm - Give his Facebook page a like, add him on Twitter or follow his Google+ page and he will repay you with even more awesome words!


  1. Trent Hand says:

    I quit my job and moved to Turkey 9 (almost 9) months ago. I know exactly what you mean in this post. The doubt can be crippling. Still, I’m glad you’ve stuck it out. Maybe we can help each other out.


    • Moving to another country is something I want to do in the future so congrats for making that leap! I hope you’re making an effort to learn the language too! 🙂

  2. The phases you’re going through are totally normal. The longer paragraph near the end of the post tells me that you’re totally doing the right thing for you.

    Everyone goes through that “pain period” or time of doubt. Know that life will be totally amazing when you stick it out and get past that. As you said earlier in your post, this, like everything else, will pass.

    A huge congrats to you for making the leap and making it work. That’s MASSIVE!

    • Hey thanks for commenting.

      I realise everyone who has every done anything worthwhile goes through a pain period so I’m just trying to deal with it one day at a time. Each day is closer to the end goal!

  3. I’ve been home for almost 5 months and absolutely agree with first point of how time flies by. I have learned to check myself to not mention this when people (who do work) ask you what you’re doing since it sounds ridiculous. I have no idea what I want to do yet but made the decision not to return to the corporate world. I actually don’t feel like doing much for now which keeps me sort of in a limbo but just trying out all sort of things and hopefully I’ll figure out what my passions are or just the next thing to keep me occupied and ideally bring some income in. I also moved “abroad” in this case to the USA. Nice to see other people that have done the leap!

    • Yeh I agree, unless people have had a lot of time to themselves, it’s hard for them to get their head round some of the weird things we notice. Thanks for your comment!

  4. I can totally relate to the pain period man. You just got to get over it. But for sure, that means the rewards will be coming.

    Good job on the blog bro.
    Alden recently posted..We’re Live!My Profile

  5. Wow. I’m so glad I found your blog today. I realized that I’m also on my “pain period.”

    The signs are all there. The decrease in motivation, the self-doubt, the temptation to quit and get a normal job just like every sensible person, and a whole range of negative emotions I’d rather not deal with. Argghhh!

    So, good. It’s normal. *sigh*

    But you are absolutely right. When I think of myself going back to the cubicle, I shudder and know right away that I would have been very unhappy. I like where I am now, and although things may seem slow sometimes, that only means more time for me to do other stuff.

    Thanks for this enlightening article, Jamie!
    Glori Surban recently posted..Introvert Guide | How to Survive Holiday Parties UnscathedMy Profile

    • Hi Glori, the key for me is just to focus on one day at a time. Each day is a day closer to escaping the ‘pain period’ and finally cracking whatever goal you have. Keep at it!

  6. I was laid off from my job 6 months ago and this all (to some degree) describes what I am going through. The first month I actually felt a sense of relief and wanted to just take time for myself and enjoy doing nothing. Now I am in an area of self doubt and fear. Mainly because I still don’t know what I want to do and I have a lot of financial responsibilities and it’s getting more and more difficult to meet them as my money is being depleted and not replenished. The idea of going back to a cubicle makes me feel extreme dread and anxiety. I know it is not what I want, the problem is figuring out what I do want and handling the opinions and “assistance” from friends and family. To them it’s a “no brainer” to just go back to the 9 to 5 cubicle life but even with all the pressure I feel from my mounting financial responsibilities, it feels much worse when I think of returning to the cubicle life. I have gone through the steps of applying for jobs and going to job fairs etc. but have not found another job to date. I believe it has more to do with the fact that it’s not what I really want…

    At least you are on a focused path and seem quite motivated. I just feel lost and stuck, most days I don’t know what to do or where to start. I haven’t been able to sustain any significant period of motivation or clear direction.

    • Hey it’s crazy isn’t it how many emotions and ups and downs we go through.

      Just remember there isn’t any shame in going back to a job you hate if you have responsibilities or people to take care of – but in my opinion you should stick to your guns and just follow what your instincts tell you to do. That way you will always do the right thing.

  7. Hey Jamie, this is an awesome post and very timely for me!

    I’m in the same position, and just reading your points it instantly refers back to my mind, especially number 4. I’ve found that meditation, and not taking your thoughts so damn seriously to help.

    I’ve taken a short break from writing and am focusing on redefining my values (and making a post about it), as I believe if there is a clear path ahead I can just follow along willingly.

    Dragos bernat recently posted..Why You Need To Forget About Setting GoalsMy Profile

  8. Hi Jamie, I am going through the same period and emotions you have written, wondering what happened with you since you wrote this subject? I used to love what I do, I am an engineer, used to love working in my field and be there every day, but after so many years working (approx 10 yrs) it finally got to me. the corporate world and all its BS, it made me hate what I do. the final straw when I changes jobs and i hated it, every single moment of it, it was a bad fit. I quit after 4 months in, i finally did it.
    now 4 months with no job, going through these feelings, i started looking for jobs but I dont want to go back to the corporate world, I want to be my own boss.

    I was wondering, how can I discover what I want to do? what are my passions? I am just living day to day but nothing in mind yet.

    – mak

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