Going Back to Work After a Year Long Sabbatical

After taking a nearly year long sabbatical from the workforce, I not only did NOT reach financial ruin, but:

1. My net worth actually increased

2. And I landed a job that came with incredible benefits and a 25% hourly raise! 


Finding a Job During a Pandemic

Finding a job that’s a good fit is tough even in the best of times. I expected that finding a job while unemployment is skyrocketing when I’ve been out of work for a year to be extra tough. 


However, once I really got serious about applications, it took about 10 weeks before I accepted an offer. The things that worked in my favor were:

  • I live in an urban area
  • I have a valuable skill set and a shiny new Master’s Degree 
  • I’m qualified and willing to do a wide range of jobs


All in all, I applied to about 70 positions and got 7 interview requests for full-time jobs and 2 for the part-time jobs (the only 2 I applied for). I got rejected from 1 of those 7 jobs after the interview, turned down 4 full-time offers and both part-time offers, and accepted what looked to me like the best one in the bunch!


It’s Weird, Though


I’ve made so much progress on figuring out what really matters to me in the past year and which goals I choose to define myself by, it feels weird to focus on a job again. Some of my life goals (like getting a Master’s) are career relevant, but none revolve around reaching a specific career status. I got a ton of praise from friends and family after telling them I’d accepted an offer, and it felt bizarre — like I’d achieved someone else’s dream that was only moderately important to me. 

The concept of jobs as status symbols is deeply ingrained in our society. I’ve done a ton of work and reflection on psychologically moving away from this paradigm during my sabbatical from the workforce and now it feels like I’m moving backwards. I always knew that getting a job would severely reduce my free time, making it much harder for me to reach my travel, physical fitness, relationship, and hobby goals. However, it’s still the right choice for me based on my current financial status and my inability to work on things like travel goals during the pandemic. But, while I truly appreciate the praise from my community, it still feels… odd and foreign to me.

Hunched over a laptop = my meaning in life?    Yeah… I don’t think so.



The Night Before Anxiety


The night before my first day,  I started getting flashbacks of how stressed out and anxious I was at my last job. I thought I had completely dealt with the insane burnout that came on last year. But, lo and behold, apparently the body/brain likes to store trauma and whip it out again at the most fun times! 


I chose my next position because I believed it would be low stress and only 40 hours a week. But, what if I guessed wrong? What if my manager was awful and the job ended up being 80 hours a week? I felt more at ease by remembering I have a ridiculous amount of FU money and am already over halfway to FIRE status. If the job ended up being that terrible, I could just quit and figure something else out. That, my friends, is the beauty of money in the bank! 


How I Feel After the First Month


After a month of working, I feel solidly fine about my position. At the best of times, it’s interesting, and at the worst of times, it’s just… dull. I can handle that!


I realize that, as much as I hate to admit it, my world has been getting smaller from 6 months of nearly complete isolation. Having something to distract me and insert new people and new information in my life has been a good thing overall. 


It’s helped that Mr. Hippie also returned to work after spending a little over a year away from “The Man.” Sidenote: he also ended up with a massive salary bump!


The pattern of both of us waking up in the morning and doing something monetarily productive is familiar and maybe even a little comforting right now. That said, while being fully remote absolutely makes the transition easier, going back to work full-time is still a huge adjustment. I’m cutting myself as much slack as I can on my other goals right now. I’m also falling back into my old patterns of meal prepping and doing housework on my off days to free up as much time as possible on my working days.


Financial Plan After A Year Long Sabbatical from the Workforce


I wasn’t able to contribute to my 401k or 457b with my first paycheck, so I’ll be throwing that money into my Traditional IRA for 2020. I’m normally a “January 1st is IRA Maxing Day” kinda gal, so waiting this late in the year to start is a bizarre feeling! I’ll have to get used to that in retirement though!

100% of my remaining paychecks for 2020 are set to go to pre-tax retirement funds. This will keep my 2020 tax rate ultra low and will give us the chance to live off of our cash reserves that unexpectedly remained way too big in the past year. 

Based on our current income and net worth, I’m estimating we will only need to work two more years until we are officially financially independent. 

Here’s to the Boring Middle™, y’all! 9-5 and all!

Have you even taken a sabbatical from the workforce? Let me know down below!

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