Imagine this: not having to drive your painfully long commute to work, or having time to finally meet up with your friends for a 5PM happy hour at that cool downtown bar you’ve always wanted to check out. I always imagined that my life of unemployment would be great: sleeping in, vacationing, eating ice cream, watching lots of television, partying it up … I imagined all this plentiful free time I would have to do all the things I never get to do. It’s supposed to be great. I thought how lovely it would be to have time to do groceries and cook at home, how clean my place would be, how happy my dog would be to have me around more often.
It is great. It’s awesome. … Just the part about the plentiful amounts of free time to play and hang out, that part is a myth. Well, at least for me, I'm busier more than ever.
What have I been doing? Well… I left my nice salaried job back in July 2010 (after close to 10 years), and for that first month afterwards: 1) I did an independent contract gig at Expedia for a month, 2) I went to Hawaii for the first time in my life for a week, and 3) then came back to a to-do list as long as the Nile River (I brought my trusty notebook with me to Hawaii and jotted notes down while there). The second month, I’ve had time to reorganize my entire closet, play the piano, actually watch 6 episodes of Season I of Mad Men since I rarely ever watch TV, see friends that I haven’t seen for months and years, take my dog to the park, actually cook a little (which also saves money), start my own website and blog, make connections with some really awesome women, read several books I’ve been wanting to read, reorganize my finances and credit cards (hoping to last as long as I need to), find my own health insurance (I know a great guy if you need one), file my non-provisional patent for my furniture design (WOOT!), work on building a demo from my product design, … lots of meetings, and the list goes on and on and on. This, I’ve done in less than a month since returning from Hawaii.
But plentiful amounts of free time, no. Think about it – you work a full time job, and the things you do outside of work are the things that need to get done to keep life afloat, i.e. take out the garbage, pay bills, see friend or family or your significant other, sleep, and eat. This is especially if you don’t have the luxury of having a stay-at-home significant other with no kids to help you run your home or your life operations. The queue of things that you want to do just grows and grows and grows in the meantime. I’m talking finally moving all of my old 401K’s to that rollover IRA, finally taking those yoga classes that I had prepaid for months ago but never went to, all of that.
On top of that, if you have any aspirations of starting your own business and joining the ranks of entrepreneurs around here (like me), you definitely know that’s a ginormous list of things that need to get done there. I want to take advantage of every minute and second in unemployment to get as much as I can possibly get done. My brain’s been flooded with finances, resources, alpha, beta, demos and pitch decks, …. the three year roadmap, fundraising, marketing plans, revisiting the competition, incorporation and equity discussions, … the list goes on and on and on there too. All the things you did while employed was just enough to keep that idea alive and maybe inching forward – now all the things you do with all this “free time” is everything in your power to make that idea real.
There are a few tidbits of advice I have for anyone in the world of unemployment like me with the ginormous to-do list:
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."