In case you’re new, I am currently taking a year-long sabbatical in the Mysterious East after surviving a rather tough time working in Africa. I’d previously decided to try quitting work altogether because I thought I could, and because I was struggling with stress. I planned to see if I could maintain discipline and keep active with alternative income ideas for beer money.
I noted towards the end of my time, I was unable to make any sensible decisions in such a madhouse country. I needed some time away to get my head straight and figure out what to do.
I’ve now been off work for six months, and this is what I have found:
One: I sort of have enough money to survive, but it is just survival. It is crazy to skimp and penny-pinch when I could just get a job. Having an income, even a modest one, makes a huge difference. If you are working and blow your budget, you just save less for that month. If you are not working, you instead cut more deeply into your savings. With an income, there’s always a path out of trouble and that built-in flexibility, but once retired your only option is to spend less.
Two: I am a little dissipated. I knew this would happen. I have always known that part-time work or an easy job would be far better for me than not working at all. Take today, for example: I got up late because my girlfriend was over. By the time I got to the gym and home again it was pretty much lunchtime. I managed to do yoga, meditation and one hour of writing, but I’m supposed to do five to six hours of writing according to my schedule. I don’t know where the time goes. The WiFi was even off. When you’re not working or otherwise busy, time can slip through your fingers. There is a Japanese fairy tale about this.
Thankfully I have not become an alcoholic or anything like that, but I am not as productive as I ought to be.
Three: The progress on alternative income ideas is limited by (a) the fact that finishing the finance book is taking so long, and (b) the internet is slow and unreliable here. I still plan to try out these ideas, but from somewhere with a better connection.
Four: I am not exactly bored, but I feel like doing more with my time. The good thing about employment is there is a place you need to be in the morning, and people there waiting for you. If you are at home dead with the cat chewing on your face then someone will notice your absence.
I would like to get back into a regular job partly because it would be good for me, partly for the extra spending money, and partly because, as we saw in Two, I actually work more efficiently on my own projects when I’m busy with other things, odd though that may seem.
Five: I’m tired of the Third World. I will no doubt retire here eventually, but I’d like to spend some time somewhere clean, safe and convenient for a while. The African experience put me in need of a break from all that.
Six: I don’t want to go back to my original career. Just thinking about getting a real job makes my guts churn as I remember all those things I had to put up with. In fact, while I’m prepared to work, I really don’t want to work very hard, and I don’t want to stress at all.
I decided to make a firm decision about my future by October 1, because I tend to procrastinate about that kind of thing if I don’t have a deadline, and I can drift along through life without getting anything done.
With a couple of days to spare I had figured it out.
I wanted an easy job, not necessarily high paying, in a developed country where I would be comfortable, so that I could do that during the day while having plenty of down time to work on my own thing. In this way I could avoid cutting into my investments or need to live a Spartan life, get back into a healthy routine, and even save a bit more cash through side hustles. A part-time job would have been ideal but that causes nightmares with visas, so I had to seek a full-time position to get all the pieces to fit.
I have a new job in Japan starting in March.
I applied for a couple of jobs and scored a position within two weeks. It’s an easy job I’ve done before, very little responsibility, and I will have ample time to work on my own projects. I’ve lived in Japan previously, speak the language, and have friends and connections there. I was sad to the point of tears when I left, and I’ve always felt that I would return eventually. It is my second home.
I only needed to commit for one year. I am likely to stay on for five to ten years – maybe even twenty – in order to save up extra cash and allow my investments to grow, but if I change my mind I’m not locked in.
When I did this easy job before I thought it would be an awesome way of chilling if, one day in the future, I just wanted to relax for a year. Now that time has come. Also, I am afraid that this sort of position is likely to disappear one day due to the ever worsening economic situation in Japan. If I want to try it again for a while, I might as well go now while the opportunity still exists.
So that is the plan, until the next thing goes wrong.
Updated: Men plan, and God laughs.