What do you do when you quit your job without another lined up?
I don’t mean a reckless, spur of the moment hissy fit that ends in you walking off the job to never return. Although, that could describe your situation. If so, no judgement.
What I’m referring to is the type of resignation that you mulled over for months, hoping to find a replacement job, until you couldn’t manage to delay the inevitable any longer.
What would you do if you found yourself with no job to go to when you wake up in the morning? How would you spend your time?
I never thought I would have to answer these questions. I didn’t think I would be the type of person to quit my job before finding a new job. I became that person the moment I decided I wanted something more fulfilling yet wasn’t sure what that looked like.
I had no plan. No particular prospects in mind. All I had was a vision, deep-set desires and emergency savings to live off as I figured out what to do with my life.
What I had previously thought would be an anxiety-inducing decision, ended up being the most freeing decision I have ever made in my career!
Now, I’m not writing this to encourage you to quit your 9 to 5 this minute and run off with the gypsies to live a life of no restrictions. If leaving your job is something you’ve been considering for a while but put off due to fear of the unknown or, you’re currently without work, I’m writing this for you.
In the current uncertainty of a global pandemic, quitting your job without a plan may not be the wisest decision. If your finances are accented with a question mark or you have dependants who rely on you for provision, you may want to rethink that decision.
However, this pandemic won’t last forever. When it does, will that desire still be there?
The benefits of no back-up plan
Making a shift in your career isn’t easy. It’s especially difficult to move on from a job you’ve had for many years. Over the years, you grow comfortable and familiar. Breaking up with “comfortable” and “familiar” is a tough task. Perhaps the “it’s not you, it’s me” line would work for this break-up!
All jokes aside, kudos to the people who know exactly what they want from their career and make it happen. They move on from one job to another with minimal hiccups and little time in between.
That wasn’t me. After leaving my secure job of 7.5 years, I needed some space and time. Can you relate?
The benefit of having no back-up plan, no “safe” option, is that it gives you space. It allows you to dream and remove the limits from your thinking. You’re not constrained to thinking about your future at the end of the workday or on the weekend, with the issues at work still weighing on your mind.
This career gap is an opportunity to learn more about yourself, what you want and what you don’t want. Grab a journal and take note of what stirs you, what motivates you. This could give you an indication of the direction in which you’re heading.
Use this time wisely
I’ll be honest with you, I spent most of my first few weeks of freedom napping, snacking, and binge-watching Netflix! I quickly realised that lifestyle would soon become a habit if I wasn’t intentional about how to spend my days during this transition.
So, how do you ensure you’re spending your time wisely after you quit your job? Do at least one of these 5 activities each day during a career transition to remedy the guilt that comes with time-wasting.
There’s no better time to get much needed rest than now! Make the most of this additional time you have on your hands to rest properly and reset for what lies ahead.
When I say rest, I don’t mean just napping on the sofa (although a good power nap can be life-changing!). Try to engage in other activities that fill your tank such as reading a book, going for a walk or relaxing by the pool.
2. Connect with loved ones
You can now say “let’s catch up soon” and know it will happen! No more playing Tetris between calendars, struggling to find a mutually beneficial time for a coffee catch up with your shift worker friend.
I took this up avidly during my career transition and became quite the lady of leisure! Enjoy socialising while you can.
3. Brainstorm the day ahead
If you’re someone who often ends up being idle for lack of a plan, develop a go-to list of things to do when you’re bored. This list may include things like spring cleaning, life admin, gardening, creating something new or volunteering at a local charity.
Use this time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do more of but never seemed to have the time.
4. Refresh your resume
If you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t updated your resume in years, letting it collect dust like an old trophy on a shelf reminding you of your glory days. Well, pick up that trophy and dust it off my friend!
Your resume is your ticket back into the world of employment, so get it ready for when you’re ready. Start by giving it a new look. If your resume looks aesthetically pleasing, you’re more likely to want to update its contents. For new and fresh designs, try Canva, a design tool which includes a range of professional resume templates.
This is also the perfect opportunity to reflect on your most recent employment as you summarise your experiences and achievements in writing. What did you value most from this experience? What key skills did you learn? How did you grow?
5. Don’t stop networking
Networking isn’t only for the employed. In my opinion, it’s probably more beneficial for the unemployed! Maintain your connections and continue to build these relationships even after leaving your job. This will help you eventually ease your way back into the workforce.
Even if you intend to move on to a completely unrelated role or start your own business, you never know what seeds you have planted by having conversations with people in your network.
New to networking or need a refresher on how to do it well? Read how to conquer online networking as an introvert (don’t let the title fool you – these tips are relevant for all!).
A career transition without known next steps can be scary and full of uncertainty. Though you may not have to answer to anyone, there is one big question worth answering for yourself – what do you want your life to look like?
Once you can answer that question, even at a high level, you’ll have a better idea of the actions you can take today to move toward that life.
Are you or have you been in a career transition without a plan? How did you spend that time? Leave a comment and please share with your social networks!
Oyelola is a freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. She works closely with entrepreneurs and businesses in financial services, consulting and education, writing quality-rich content to engage their readers and motivate action. When not writing for clients, Oyelola provides insights on writing, wealth and work on her Phrased with Purpose blog and shares her faith journey on her personal blog, He Speaks, I Write.