Time has really flown by and looking back, it’s amazing to see the progress I’ve made since I quit my job. When I quit, I wasn’t really in a celebratory mood. Even though this was something I'd been wanting for years, burnout had seriously affected my confidence and overall outlook on life.
Thankfully these past three months have been a turning point. I’m feeling more at ease, less anxious, and surprisingly optimistic about the road ahead. So I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on my experience – the highs, the lows, and the lessons learned. Not many people take big leaps like this (at least I didn’t know of any close friends in my circle) so I hope by sharing here, some of this might resonate with anyone else out there dealing with similar emotions.
WHAT WENT WELL
1. Prioritized Self Care
Before diving into my creative project, I dedicated the initial weeks to getting my routine back in order. I wasn’t doing so well mentally and physically, so I set a goal to start a 30-day 10-minute meditation challenge and scheduled morning workouts five days a week. I joined a gym to get me out of the house and socialize with people. I took golf lessons (something I’ve been wanting to do for several years). And I started cooking more. These little accomplishments helped rebuild my self-confidence, no matter how small they seemed.
2. Planned with Purpose
When I was working in tech I was always involved in planning sessions where teams would come together every few months to identify their priorities, define what they want to build, and lay out a plan to achieve their goals. I applied the same frameworks to outline my mission, my “why”, and the projects I wanted to tackle. This roadmap kept me laser-focused on my top priorities and how I invested my time. My program management background gets me super nerdy about planning and process, so I’ll geek out more on this topic in a future post.
3. Found My Tribe
One of the things I loved most about my day job was seeing my coworkers every day. Losing that daily interaction hit me hard and it felt pretty isolating. But as slowly regained my self-confidence I started to reach out my artist friends. I set a goal to connect with at least two creatives each month, but soon enough, that number organically increased. Surrounding myself with people who share similar aspirations and understand my journey has been invaluable. They reminded me that I'm not alone on this adventure.
WHAT COULD’VE GONE BETTER
1. Overthinking Other People’s Opinions
The first six weeks of my creative sabbatical was rough. I was ashamed and afraid to admit that I quit my job without a backup plan. Social gatherings triggered my anxiety because I worried about people asking me about my non-existent job and having them judge me in my jobless state. But I soon realized that nobody cares. I learned that unless they’re individuals I truly admire, their opinions shouldn’t faze me. There were two books that helped me get over this: The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga and The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. Highly recommend these books if you are stuck in the same overthinking loop.
2. Tying My Worth To My Income
Another thing I struggled with was accepting the fact that I wasn’t making any money. Ever since graduating from college I’ve been fortunate to have a steady income. So facing the unknown was daunting. I saved up a good amount and my partner and I discussed our finances regularly, but no matter how many times he reassured me, the anxiety persisted. I started developing an unhealthy habit of penny pinching left and right and tracking every expense on a spreadsheet. Eventually though, I eased up and accepted this period as a chance to explore creativity and not just chase money.
So far I’ve been treating this sabbatical as a “new job” and it has its parallels to my previous roles. Just like how new hires need time to acclimate, I’m realizing this journey follows a similar learning curve. We’d always reassure teammates that it would take about 3-6 months for them get acquainted with their new job. Ninety days in, I’m happy to report that I’m finally finding my groove and embracing the process.
Lastly, here are a few quotes that kept me going during my tough days:
1. “Motivation is garbage.” -Mel Robbins
You don’t need to feel motivated to make a change. What you need is courage.
2. “Goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.” -James Clear
Smart systems drive progress more than lofty goals.
Embrace curiosity and have fun. Don’t burden your creativity with martyrdom.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if this blog resonated with you. Looking forward to sharing more insights and experiences soon!