An Extended Break From the Rat Race Has Changed My Life

10 lessons learned that I never want to lose

Linda Castrilli
Published in
6 min readDec 16, 2021


Photo: GettyImages

In the spring of 2021, I left the corporate job I had been in for the prior seventeen years.

It was the first time since graduating college — and we’re talking early 1990s here — that I had been unemployed. Back then, OJ Simpson wasn’t yet on trial for murder and Prince Charles and Princess Diana were still married.

Things were a bit different.

I was beyond building a career that would get me on any 30-under-30 or other age-based lists, which, like this article suggests, are nonsense anyway. Also, we were still in the midst of a global pandemic.

While my rational mind found it poetic that I would uproot my career while the stable ground below me was also being dug up by world events, it took some time for the rest of me to catch up and reach emotional equilibrium.

But with the luxury of a generous early retirement package and no time crunch to return to a steady paycheck, I set out on my hero’s journey — to find myself and a new opportunity or purpose.

Several months later, I can’t say with certainty that I’ve found myself. But I did find a new job. One I’m pretty excited about.

As I return to work — yes, ultimately, back in the corporate world — I’ve had to abandon the extra free time, at least for now. But I don’t want to lose the lessons I gleaned, especially the following 10. I know I will need them — not just during those times in my life when I may be searching again — but every single day.

1. Get yourself in a good state, because you attract what you are

Whether your jobless time is your choice or not, there is usually a lot of emotion (and, often, mixed feelings) associated with it. Have a pity party, make peace with your choice, mourn your co-workers and your flexible spending account. Be mad, be sad and then do whatever it takes to get it together.

2. You have an identity apart from your title and place of work