Putting the FUN in Funemployment

Whenever I get home from a trip, two things happen:

  • What has come to be known as material purging
  • Creative hibernation

I encourage you to do something similar, but first, let me explain…


Material Purging

Travel, in any form, is a sensory overload experience that always leaves me mentally and emotionally full. In order to digest everything, I spend a few days sitting at my computer, Microsoft Word open, and I bleed. All the memories and emotions come pouring out while they’re fresh, and when I feel like I’m finished, I pass out. A successful cleanse is refreshing but exhausting. It’s best to do this in the first week of being home so the details don’t get fuzzy. Record as much as you can while you can.

The following week, I do a material purge, which means getting rid of “stuff.” That’s exactly what it is. Stuff that doesn’t add any value or hold any meaning and is weighing me down, metaphorically speaking. Maybe at one point it meant something, but no more. It’s like year-round spring cleaning. Old clothes, shoes, papers, knick knacks, etc. are either donated or thrown away. I always feel a lot lighter after such a cleaning, and it puts in perspective how little I need to survive and be comfortable.

In the midst of all that, I catch up on bills and miscellaneous tasks I couldn’t take care of abroad. Get it all settled in the beginning so you can move forward with finding work or pursing different interests.


Finding Work

This may not be sound advice, but I recommend taking time off after you return from your holiday. It’s silly because you just took an extended holiday, right? But I’m serious. Don’t go looking for a full time job for 2-3 months. Maybe find something part-time, but take this opportunity to refine or acquire a new skill set, sharpen your competitive edge. Take advantage of this funemployment period to start your own company, volunteer with a local organization, or learn a new trade. If you live in a big city, work at a hostel to stay connected to the world of travelers, attend local conferences and events, and stay as active as possible. Continue to expand your network because every person you meet is a walking opportunity to connect to a new world, trade stories, and make a new friend.

There’s a vicious circle of needing experience to be employed but needing to be employed to get experience. Your time is valuable, I understand, but in the interest of changing fields or perfecting your craft, work for free for a couple of months and/or shadow people who do what you want to do. Be diligent about learning on your own, and keep the mind sharp.

Kokuma Japanese

Keeping the Mind Sharp

Like I said, you’re funemployed so seize the opportunity to learn a new skill or trade and expand on the qualities you have to offer to a potential future employer. Here are a few ideas for you…

  • Learn a new language
  • Do daily crossword puzzles
  • Start playing a new instrument
  • Exercise
  • Take a dance class
  • Read
  • Play outside
  • Day/Weekend trips to neighboring cities or states
  • Anything you normally wouldn’t have time for with a regular 9-5

Don’t feel pressured to find a job right away when you return from travel, and don’t settle for the first job offer that comes your way just because it will pay the bills. It’s more important that you find work that you love and can embody on a daily basis. You just returned from an incredible experience that very few people will ever have or take advantage of, and you now have something unique to offer. Don’t let anybody downplay the value of your experiences, and even as you transition into a new career, don’t stop learning. Keep sharpening the blade of your mind!

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