Nearly 7 years ago, I quit a job at a crazy office that smelled like pot smoke lots of mornings and was riddled with (what I believe were) drug-induced or withdrawl-induced psychotic breaks (not by me). Of course, the company sold for 62 million dollars a few months after I left and all the employees got big bonuses. But that's beside the point.
I left my position with not much money saved and no solid freelance gigs lined up. It was a stressful few months as I tried hard to keep myself afloat, but it afforded me something I would never have gotten had I not chosen to quit: Time.
A couple months into my career shift, my grandmother developed a pulmonary embolism. I can't remember how long she was in the hospital, but being job-free, I was able to go visit her almost every day. After surgery, she was moved to a nursing home to recuperate and I will always remember making jokes with her there the last time I saw her. Sadly, she threw a clot just a few days after she had checked into the nursing home and she passed away.
I will forever be grateful that I was out of work and got to see her so many times in those final days.
During that same period of time, my dad had to go in for gallbladder surgery. Again, because I wasn't working, I got to sit with my mom and sister in the waiting room and giggle at his anesthesia-hazed ramblings when he came out of the operating room. I was really thankful I got to be there with my family during that.
This past summer, my sister told me she was planning to take my oldest niece to look at colleges in Washington DC and Boston, tacking the outing onto one of her husband's business trips and asked me if I could go with them. Sorely disappointed, I told her I didn't have enough vacation time.
Then I got laid off.
And guess where I am right now? Yup in the beautificent old eastern side of the country with my niece and sister (actually I'm writing this before we're there, so I'm really just in my living room...but I wanted to give you guys something to read while I was away).
I feel so lucky for the opportunity to spend time with the people who matter during my "time off."
I think that may be one of the biggest keys to getting through job changes—or any changes, really—appreciating every minute of the good stuff. I hope I have lots more memories like this to look back on if I ever end up tethered to a desk again.