My year away from full-time web development work29.11.2016
On 1st February 2015, I started my long-awaited holiday, which lasted a whole year. Almost an another year since I’m back to “normal” life, I’m recalling the nice moments and would like to tell about the experience, and how such long “gap year” affected me as front-end developer.
At the time, I was hired as contractor for Roche. I was allowed to work from home (I wish every company was as easy with remote work), so I moved from rented room in Poznań, where I stayed for the first few months at Roche, back to my family town - Poniatowa. I set up my office at grandma’s apartment, so I kept on “going out” to work every day.
At the age of 24, earning far more money than I spent on daily needs, I could easily waste it without worry, like buy myself gadgets or car. But I always preferred saving. Some day in 2014, this simple thought came to my mind:
If I spend just half of what I make, it means I can fund myself a whole year of free time, for every year I work.
The key word here is “freedom”. The idea of financial independence is very attractive for me, because having a good income and taking smart decisions can literally buy you the most precious asset - the time - long before turning old.
I calculated my target savings and marked the last day of work. Simple looking at the calendar made me happy and excited. I was prepared.
What I did, personally
I was paying myself about 1500 PLN every month, which is a bit below median retirement in Poland, and as much as I planned to spend. I could, and did joke about being pensioner - I think it shows how fun was that time, considering that I was 24!
Day-to-day, I focused on:
- Working out. I upgraded my home gym and trained regularily for a few months, increasing my results. Being able to start at 10 a.m., without any rush or tasks waiting for completion, is a really good feeling. You simply can’t compare your evening workout to this. I also used to ride my road bike - middle of the day is a perfect time for cycling.
- Watching movie premieres. Going to morning screening is an all-new experience, when you can enjoy empty theater and daylight after the film.
- Playing video games. I bet I opened every single cabinet in Fallout 3!
I also went to a few trips:
- Brussels. Lovely Old Town and architecture. The Manneken pis met all my expectations!
- London. I’ll visit Tate Modern every next time, as well as walk around Docklands.
- Kazimierz Dolny and Poznań. Places of two film festivals - Dwa Brzegi and Transatlantyk (the latter one moved to Łódź in 2016).
- Gdańsk and Hel. Baltic Sea in autumn was turbulent, but this trip will be memorable for me.
What made 2015 even better, I fell in love. I was lucky I was uninterrupted by work routine, so I could put my best will, attention, energy and time into relationship that continues now.
What I did, professionally
- I set up this blog. This was an opportunity to look back at my work and groom my resume.
- I went to one interview (didn’t actively look for job; I was reached by recruiter and the meeting was arranged just in time and place of my Gdańsk travel).
- I did single freelance job - Na Swoim website, which I described on the blog.
Not much, but that was the plan. Despite my promise to keep up with the technology, I neither read about nor used many new tools. Grunt alone seemed so powerful and future-proof, and I couldn’t imagine how the whole ecosystem has evolved in the meantime.
A year passed, so did my money. My re-employment proccess felt very smooth. On 6th January 2016 I replied to 10 job postings. During following weeks, I had several recruitment and technical calls, which lead to 3 in-person interviews and 2 offers. On 29th January I got the role for HPE.
The fine thing about our profession is we can pick company, city or even country to work in pretty freely. This time I relocated to Łódź and like the city very much.
Back to my gap year
I’m glad I didn’t want to be busy all the time, although I feel I could achieve more, or at least break the every-day reality more often. What surprises me now is that I was greatly focused on financial preparation, but didn’t set goals or make actual plan of activities. The money I had didn’t allow me to realize all my travelling goals, i.e. Canary Islands. Passing of time felt the quicker, the closer it was to the end of vacation.
I’m happy I took such a long time off. It was fun, filled with relaxation, and let me do things I would neglect if I was full-time worker. One of the most important conclusions for me is that it can be done! It makes sense not to inflate your life style and costs for the sake of late gratification - free time. This 2014 thought still influences my choices and plans for the future.