Info Special Feature

Top 5 Checklist You Should Know Before Taking A Short Break from the Work Force

This is a topic that I’ve been wanting to talk about a few months ago after I took a short break from working. I didn’t want to post this up when I’m still on a break and now that I’m back to work, I thought I could share with you on how I managed to stay work-free and still living a normal life.

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When I left my last employment end of January 2014, I had a clear mindset of what I want and what I wanted to do. It was suppose to be just a 3-4 months break but life was getting so comfortable and stress-free that I didn’t think I’d go back to work at all! I still browse through Jobstreet once in a while (when I remember), went for interviews and all until I really found the one job that I can see myself into. There are so many articles out there that provide a thorough guide and advise on how to quit without a job AND surviving it so I’m not going deep into that. I’m going to share with you my version of Top 5 Checklist that you’d never expect at all, until you go through it yourself. Bear in mind these are just my personal experience and everyone is different so do take this checklist with a pinch of salt.


Are you ready to live on savings?

This is THE MAIN thing you need to think of before everything else. Many people ask me how I’m able to stay unemployed for so long. The answer is saving up for rainy days. I saved up all this years! I was blessed with a job that pays good salary, good commission and I saved up 70% of what I earned. That is how I still can afford to be without a job for nearly a year, pay for my car, pay for my daily expenses, pay for all the shoppings #notsponsored and treat my parents. It’s good to have a small freelance gig on hand during your break although it doesn’t help much but at least it’s something.

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I have people who told me they never save up before and they quit without figuring out the financial status because they never bother about money. Ditto if you’re born rich. But I will still said the same – go ahead if you think your saving can support you temporary.


Plan your exit, break duration & what to do next

I have to start from the beginning of all which is to plan your exit, plan your break and plan your future. You don’t just quit for the sake of quitting. You have to plan your exit in advance. I was from the sales department which means I have clients to think about, contracts to handover and commissions to collect or void. Being a sales person, I cannot just leave like that. After figuring out all the work handover process, next is to think about the pay and commission. Some company void all the sales commission as soon as you give in your resignation letter while some may take another month to pay. All this are based on the company itself so talk to your HR on all this and when the time comes, you are able to leave without the company owing you and you owing the company.

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Now you can plan your break. How long you can survive without a fixed salary and what you want to do during the break. Let’s say you plan to be on a 6 months break. Think about what you want to do during the break or where to go. I wanted to just laze around the house all day everyday doing nothing and that turns out the opposite. I became even busier at home, going to events, blogging, freelancing, catching up with friends and hanging out at the mall all day long.

When you’re approaching the end of your targeted break i.e. a month before, think of where and what you want to do next and how to go about it. I failed in this badly. I didn’t want to go back to sales or the media line but out of the sudden the job opportunity in that industry is growing like a mushroom. So I took my time to rethink, searching and targeting what industry and what scope I want to get into.


Ignore all the negative people and comments

This is what I been through A LOT at the very beginning of my break. For some whatsoever unknown reasons, people just want to pressure me into getting back to work. By people I mean friends. Close friends, Facebook friends, normal friends. I have people bugging me on Facebook chat asking me if I found a job yet or when am I going back to work right after Chinese New Year That was February and it’s like less than a month after I quit. Hello! Of all people I didn’t expect my friends to do this to me.

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I didn’t know how much all this negative people stress me and my break that I wanted to go right back to work just for the sake of shutting their mouth up. It was in May 2014 from Clarins Extra-Firming Eye Complete Rejuvenating Cream press event that I came to know the reason I want to do this because of the pressure from people around me. At the Clarins launch, they had this activity where we could go for a “face reading” and the master said that I was in no hurry to end my break but I was desperate to get a job because I was under a lot of pressure. His advise for me after that cleared my doubt and I begin to cut off negative comments and people. My advise to you is to be prepared for people who will be jealous of you not working and ignore all the negative comments but take in good advise.


“I can’t be like you”

be yourself
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The most misconception that I get all.the.time is being told “I can’t be like you. I have family to support”. First of all, why should you BE me? I quit without a job on hand because I want to take a short break. If you want to quit because the job doesn’t work out for you or you’re unhappy with where you are at, find a new job and then only quit. No one tells you to be like me. You don’t be somebody else. You be you, you do what you want to do. I may need a break but you may not.


Be vary of your spending

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This is self explanatory. When you are not with a monthly fixed income, you will of course need to be careful of what you spend on. Before I quit, I did a small budget planning and then I set a side a budget. During this period, I write down on what have I spent on so that I can look back at the end of the month and review my spending behaviour. This is also where I failed miserably. I shop, dine and splurge A LOT during this period. Most people assumed that everything I own are sponsored. Little did they know in real life I bought what I want myself because I can and I want to. How I wish everything is sponsored!

There you have it. My Top 5 Checklist Before Taking A Short Break from the Work Force. I can go on and on about what I went through for the past 9 months of enjoying a break from work but I wouldn’t want to bored you with all the negativity so I better leave you with just five out of the norm. Most people I came across did not do a proper thinking on the money part. And when they really got out of the job then only they are stress about money. I didn’t have money issue during this 9 months period mainly because I was on a few freelance job so I wasn’t emptying up my saving than what I initially expected. However like I said at the beginning, this is just based on my own experience. Who knows maybe you can take a pinch of salt from it as a reference one day? 😉

What about you? Have you quit your job before securing a new one? What is the longest break that you’ve ever take? My longest annual leave was on Chinese New Year and even so I was working from home. This 9-months would be a record breaking for me. Am I ready to go back to work? After so many months you bet I am!


Comments (31)

  • My longest break from work: Exactly 15 months 😀
    But I didn’t really laze at home; signed up for a course and went back to classroom, to kill the time and learn something new 😛
    Then was back to work for few years now, and am now in the midst of planning a break again, hehe 😀

    • Yerrr you broke my record! Hehe I only started to laze around towards the end. At the beginning I was running around settling work. Initially thinking to break then freelance but it was the other way round. So I was so hesitance to go back to work. I need to work to support bigger purchases LOL.
      Breaks are awesome to recuperate. It clears our mind. I ‘see’ a lot, understand more and know what is the path.

      • Actually, although I long for a break, I don’t mind of having freelance jobs to keep me busy…cannot sit at home doing nothing, haha…but have no idea yet what sort of freelance job I can do, adoi…I do envy people that have freelance jobs and can work at home!! :p

        But yeah…agree with you break can clear our minds…that’s why I need a break, coz my mind is too ‘messy’ now, haha…in a way also to nurse my health :p

        • Working at home will need to be discipline. Most people can’t do it. They will ended up slacking off. I’m like a military. I have a fix schedule at working from home on what time to wake up, what time to lunch and off work LOL

          • Yep…discipline is the key when work from home…should be ok gua….:P

          • Hehe don’t fall asleep on the bed ya 😀 😀

  • Aiyo jealous ler. I wish I can take a long break relying on saving. Problem was I had no saving at all. Whatsoever. Dangerous and super pathetic situation I’m in. I really heavily on hubby.
    So now, been 3months I have quit my job. But taking freelance jobs instead. I still work, but 1-2 days per week and have all d time for my hobbies. And I have still have $ for my house and insurance payment. But then no more EPF and medical benefit.
    I did agreed with u, after quitting my job, I more bz. Super bz with lotsa things. Lol.
    But a question, taking breaks like urs, how would it affect your resume?

    • As long as your freelance gigs can support your house $ and insurance AND your hobby, I say go ahead with it! Working in KL city is so stressful. All the traffic jams are killing me. I’m already stress before reaching office. You can actually contribute EPF yourself but I didn’t do that because I save in the bank and transfer to FD lol.
      Well, for resume there’s a void in terms of the month and year. Some company will realised it and some don’t. It is not a big issue as you’re not sacked, you’re just taking a break. To me it’s never a problem at all. Some company are not comfortable with the gap in between work. It’s not like a month or something. It’s a year wheyyyy

      • Yay, i know what u mean about stress. but not the traffic la…since i car pool with hb most of the time. mine more like stress from works. previously i had to face > 20clients. Now i just need to handle 2 clients. Less calls received less hectic. lol

        Cos some co might not take u seriously. not sure about ur industry. but if you hit 40s, would u continue take a break in between 1-2 years?

        But i do have lotsa friends take a month off for a long holiday. or like me & hubby, after peak season, we normally takes a 2-3 weeks overseas holiday just to jam up our energy. Hubby cant take more than that, or frequently as we like cos u said, u has clients to take care.

        • Yeap. For some reason some company panic seeing a gap thinking what went wrong haha. Aiseh. Like that also cannot haha. When I’m 40, I’d no longer work for anyone. Actually the plan was to start a company. Then suddenly saw this job and I applied 😛

          I never took leave for holidays. Everyday there’s tons of clients calling in so it’s quite impossible for me to take leave. There was once I was posted to Singapore for a few days. Handed over to my staff and the phone none stop ringing. Clients only want to talk and deal with me. Ended up with 1k-ish phone bills and it’s not covered by the company. Very tough to even go away on MC. That explains the needed break.

          • Cool! if u already have plan for your future, i dont think there a need to follow the norm.

  • I’ve experienced everything you pointed out haha
    To some people, not working is a big no-no, it means you’re lazy etc. etc. or some people just dunno what topic to talk to you about so bring up your job issue to talk about la XD

    Since you’ve gotten a job now, wish your career smooth smooth ah! 😀

    • Exactly. What’s the big deal anyway. They’re just jealous haha. I never go pressure my friends to find a job or go to work. We ended up go high tea and such.

      New job – tough. Although it’s my 2nd week. Will see how 😀

  • This is such a nice post! I love it! Nice sharing ^^

    • Thanks. I’m glad you like it 😀

  • Great points here and some very helpful advice for anyone else considering a sabbatical.
    I have to say, people and especially family and friends do tend to put pressure on our lives without right or reason.
    I had a brief gap between formal employment and everyone from the friend to the hawker stall lady had an opinion about that. Quite annoying actually.
    Nowadays, I don’t even like talking about my work. People get ideas into their head and make assumptions that are really not true or helpful to me.
    Live and let live, I say.
    I’m glad you found the time useful and there’s some really practical and sensible advice in this post. Great article!

    • I know right? So annoying. These people have no idea how stressful it can be hearing all this bla bla bla. My parents never ask me about going back to work for the past 9 months. They know I can manage. Plus they’re so happy to go shopping or tea everyday lol.
      No one understand what I do. I used to be in car magazine and then flocks of friends and relatives started to call me and said they’re looking for XX car or XX car. Sigh.
      I think above all, the most crucial is to shut the ears. There tend to be lots of nonsense 😀

  • This is an excellent post, Fiona and so very true! As you are aware, I left my job in October and am taking a long break. I had to ensure that my finances are secure and sufficient to last a while. You covered that point so well. I am thankful that most people in my life have been very supportive of me leaving the job. I don’t depend on my husband all the time but I am grateful that he’s there for me.

    Even on this break, I have found ways to fulfill my life. It may not be as busy as when I was working but my days do pass by quite quickly because I keep myself occupied doing productive things. It’s been slightly over a month now, but I am enjoying life now 🙂 Overall, it is much better for my husband and I because I’m home to take care of the household and of our diet (rather than eating out all the time).

    By the way, congrats on your new job! I sincerely wish you all the best in your future. Hope to see you again sometime soon.

    • Thanks Lyn 😀 You will find yourself getting busier and the hour pass by faster than working. Only those who had taken a long break will understand. So when you told me about yours, I feel connected to your story in a way. My parents are quite supportive in this. They never ask me when I’m getting a job because they knew I can manage it better 🙂 . I think they are happy that I’m out of the house as I’m getting annoying hahaha!!
      I have no regrets with taking a long break despite getting a few negative reaction from interview previously. I even have thoughts to do something else that enable me to work from home, which I will kick start in the nearest future.
      Thanks for the well wishes 😀 We’ll see how it goes hehe. Hope to bump into you at events soon 😉

  • Yah, totally feel you! When I decided to quit my job 3 years ago everyone asking how, why, when.. etc. I am happy that I took that step out to go ahead to try something new. Never try never know right?

    Life is short and is okay we take break (whether long or short) to think before we do it! After all we have a long life to work… so it’s better to work what we passionate about 🙂

    • Exactly. I don’t know why people just like to have an opinion in everything as if we need to reply on their money to survive. I never regretted my break. It was awesome living a ‘tai tai’ life lol. So awesome that I didn’t want to work for anyone anymore.

  • Wonderful post! It is a good checklist and reality check before deciding to take a break. I think a lot of people will talk about taking a break without planning for it, hence the fear and the plan actually did not materialize. Without planning for it, of course there will be 1001 reasons like I have to support my family, I cannot survive, I need to buy my Chanel blah blah blah…So kudos girl, you are truly an inspiration – not on taking a break per se, but your mindset and thoughts 🙂 I am living on burn out for the last few years actually. Maybe I have settled deep into my situation that I accepted my “fate”…or choice rather. But whenever my staff comes to me to ask for sabbatical leaves approval, I usually approve without much reservations. If they had made up their mind to take time off, I am sure they must have thought through it. In fact, this is better than some coward who does not perform at work and hog the position just because they are either too lazy or just never learn how to plan for a break. Congrats on landing a new job. Lucky employer I must say 🙂 Perhaps it is good to be back in the workforce, hopefully you are rejuvenated after your break and set your career path and destination. All in all, thank you for sharing this. I think this is a great post simply because at one point in our lives, we will definitely think of taking a break but may be clueless or too afraid to do it. Your guide to life certainly made things easier. Your generosity to share and inspire is always amazing and I am grateful for that. Hahaha, now, some wardrobe shopping perhaps to increase your collection? 😛 Just kidding!

    • Thank you dear. It is a reality check alright. Everyone can take a break. It’s a question of whether it is feasible to do it or not. The main thinking to do is none other than financial, which most people told me they will just quit without thinking about money. All along I have set a goal regarding my break. I just don’t go announce to people or advertise on newspaper. That explains all the busy body lol.
      I’m all ready to go back to work. In fact I couldn’t wait to albeit reluctant to leave my comfort home haha. Wardrobe shopping is in progress actually 😀

  • thank you for publishing this post, i was curious to learn how you did it (the resigning thingy and then staying alive and not broke without a fixed salary). I was surprised on how much pressure your closest pals gave to you, I thought people will support your move and be envious (not jealous) of you because quitting a job is not what we do absent-mindedly. I am not yet in the professional business, since I graduated I only took part time job (it has been 3 months) and I am quitting it soon. I am interested to get into media sector (since I studied English for Professional Communication and I love what I did and what I see along my blogging years, though I know that “working” within it is not all sweet and happy) but living in Melaka does not allow me such opportunity, and my parents are still 100% reluctant to let me live on my own in KL/Selangor, which pinned me down in Melaka. My dad wants me to become a teacher, but I did not go to maktab perguruan when I got the offer after SPM. Now he wants me to become a lecturer, and he keeps on pressing me to apply for all lecturer jobs and lecturer scholarships (from UiTM) he heard of. I know that parents wants the best, or what they think as the secure path for their kids but I dont like being told what I must be. Now I am still thinking, applying and hunting for what I want. Maybe apply for all the jobs I am interested and qualified to work in, or take up a master’s degree. I need air -_-”

    • You are welcome. I know you are curious, most people are haha. I was surprised to! I thought my parents will be giving me pressure. But turns out they are fine with me working from home and it’s my own friends that stress the hell of me.

      Just to share with you my experience on following what the parents want. On the beginning of my work life, I was in Finance line because my mum had this thought that a girl should be working in a office from 9-5. Like a good girl I listen. I was extremely unhappy because I hated the boredness and most importantly I HATE NUMBERS. I was told so many times that my chirpy self looks like someone in the sales line. I was given the opportunity, I took it, told my mum off and the rest is history. I am way better now than when I was in Finance, I earned 5 times better than in Finance and I’m happy. I’m not telling you to disobey your parents but talk to them. I believe your dad is more sensible than my mum. My mum will never understand because she never work before. So she can’t imagine what traffic jam is like, what work stress is or what earning an income is about.

  • You always give us good advise^^ Thank you for sharing all the wonderful tips and prepare us for a short break. My longest break is one month HAHA =)

    • Thank you for the support babe. One month? That will flies off so easily lol

  • My longest break time is six months between jobs. I went australia to travel for 2 months, staying with farmers and helping out to save on travelling cash, recuperating at the time as well, then I came back to singapore again and took my time to find another job. Totally love the two months abroad, definitely perked me up and make me ready for another job!

    • Wow. I love your break adventure. It’s really nice to recuperate in between jobs. I was having so much fun not working at all although I’m happy to go back to work. First 2 days was hard. I was sleeping by noon (I usually took a nap in the afternoon) and I had headache from all the info absorbing. After the 1st week, everything was back to normal 😀

  • Thanks for this post and all the 5 points highlighted are really good ones 🙂 I took a break in 2008 for 3 months as I was tired of the job that I have been in for 5 years. I traveled to Sydney and Kuching and really enjoyed my break. Of course I still had to apply for jobs because I did not have much money to last me for that long. Finally got a job at the end of my 3 months break. I quit again in 2012 and got another job within 3 weeks of quitting . Had the worse boss possible and after 6 months of her constant screaming, I decided enough was enough and was not going to take any more of her nonsense. So I guess the moral of the story is that if you are financially stable and really feel you need a break, then go for it. No point continuing to work in a place that just makes you feel miserable.

    • Thanks Victoria 😉 I totally agree with you. If the job is putting a too much stress on you and you have the ability to take a break, I say go ahead with it. I have people telling me how shock it is that someone would need a break. For goodness sake! I haven’t been taking any leaves for 5 years! This girl deserve a break! 😀


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