9 Things To Do After You Quit Your Job From Someone Who Just Did It

Quitting your job, especially when you don't have anything else lined up, is scary. Getting everything ready, building up the courage to have the conversation with your boss, actually having the conversation with your boss — the whole process is anguish inducing. But once that is all over, what do you do after you quit your job? There are typical answers to that question, like "stay on good terms with everyone" and "make sure your finances are in order," but what can you do during your time off for you?

This past May, I quit the job I'd had for two years after college. I was planning on going back to school in the fall, and wanted to take a little time off to reevaluate and find myself before fully making the transition. Even though I knew it was only temporary, and that I had a new adventure waiting for me after a few short months of unemployment, it was scary as hell. Finding ways to fill the days, and to make myself feel like I was productive, was really hard and sometimes, really lonely.

Making the decision to leave a job knowing you may have downtime, is brave. Whether you've left because you're making a career change, moving to a new place or starting your own company, there are certain ways you can make the most of your time off. The most important thing to remember? Time off can be a good thing!

1. Breathe

First and foremost, give yourself time to take a deep, deep breath. Leaving a job can be incredibly emotional (I happened to get dumped the night before my last day of work, which added a whole other horrible component of difficulty), and you need to give yourself time to process your emotions. Take a day, or even a week, and give yourself time to gain distance from the situation before you make any big decisions.

2. Let It All Out

If you’ve left a particularly horrible or hostile work environment, which happens to be the case for a lot of people who quit without anything else lined up, the best thing you can do for the sake of your sanity is vent. It’s great if you can find a friend to listen to you, though by the time you’ve actually bitten the bullet and quit, chances are your friends are all tired of hearing about your terrible job. It’s even better, then, to write it all in a journal. That way, if ever you’re feeling unsure or regretting your choice, you can go back and read your journals to remember just how much you hated the job you left.

3. Give Yourself Time Off

After working your ass off for however many years, it’s OK to take a little bit of time for yourself. If you can afford to give yourself a week or two of leisure — which you should make sure you can before actually quitting — do yourself a favor and take it.

4. Travel. Travel. Travel.

You don’t have a job! Go see the world! Of course, this is a rather expensive suggestion considering you’ve just walked away from your income, but it’s important to get away, at least for a little, to get some perspective and clear your head. I went to visit my parents in Florida immediately after leaving my job, and spent five whole days laying in the sun and reading trashy beach novels. It wasn’t exactly an exotic vacation, but by the time I got back from the trip I was ready to get started making arrangements for my future.

5. Make A Plan

If you’ve quit your job with nothing else lined up, the first thing to do after your brief period of rest and relaxation is to come up with a plan. Set daily, weekly and, if need be, monthly goals for what you need to get done to make your next career move happen. If you’re looking to make a career change, start making lists of what you need to do to get the gears in motion. Figure out who you need to reach out to, and what your timeline is, to get it done.

6. Revamp Your Resumé

Even if you aren’t looking to go back to work right away, it helps to have an up to date resumé readily available — just in case. If you’ve had the same format since college (or, if you’re like me, since junior year of high school) it may be time to consider an upgrade.

7. Use The Time To Your Benefit

When you have no real commitments, it becomes incredibly easy to let yourself sleep until noon and watch bad TV all day. The more you do that, though, the worse you’ll start to feel about yourself. Set an alarm for the same time every day (and I mean morning time — like, 8 to 9 a.m.) and spend the day doing things you didn’t have time to do when you were working a full time job. Go to a museum in the middle of the day; go for a long run; read the 700-page book you've been meaning to read since high school.

8. Find Something To Make You Feel Productive

For me, it was my personal blog. I started writing stories about what I was doing during my unemployment, and even if at the time, no one besides my mom was actually reading them, by the end of the summer I at least had something to show. Find something that makes you feel like you’re actually doing something, so it doesn’t feel like you’re wasting your time.

9. Be Patient

People are going to tell you this over and over when you’re looking for a new job, but it’s true. Finding work, especially when you’re making a career change, takes time. Don’t get down on yourself if it doesn’t happen right away.

And remember: You're going to be OK. It'll work out if you take the proper steps to make sure you're mentally and emotionally healthy before jumping head first into your job search or new path.

Images: Catherine McMahon, Carli Jean, Elizabeth Lies, Jérémie Crémer, Tatiana Niño, Alejandro Escamilla, Redd Angelo, William Iven, Eli DeFaria/Unsplash