I regret giving up my $8,000 monthly salary to take a gap year

May 11, 2024 | 03:07 pm PT
I regret giving up my $8,000 monthly salary to take a gap year
Many regret taking a gap year without prior planning. Illustration photo by Unsplash/christoper catbagan
I quit a job where I earned VND200 million (US$7,900) monthly after amassing some savings to take a gap year, but I was quickly disillusioned.

I am 46 years old. Recently, I have seen many opinions regarding early retirement when you achieve a monthly salary of VND100 million. Personally, I used to make double that amount by working for a prestigious company. Over the years, I saved up enough to earn VND30 million per month just through a deposit account.

Last year, I decided to quit my job and take a gap year to enjoy my life after years of hard work. This story is what I have learned from a year of unemployment.

My initial plan was to try living as a farmer, planting crops and raising livestock. But because I did not come from a farming background and had no experience in this field, I quickly felt overwhelmed and exhausted. Eventually, I had to abandon this endeavor and switch to something else.

I traveled a lot and after a while, my freedom left me feeling empty. Finding someone to hang out and have conversations with every day was difficult because most people still have to work. I realized that I just cannot get accustomed to a life without work. Even my closest friends were busy with work, so I was alone most of the time.

I decided to turn to books and attend various soft skills courses to relieve my boredom. But after a while, all those experiences just felt wasteful. Although I did learn a lot, those knowledge and skills were worthless to me because I was neither applying them to work nor teaching them to anyone. I felt useless because I was not contributing anything to society.

Having too much free time led to the development of many bad habits, such as excessive drinking, and I felt increasingly aimless. I realized that retiring early and not having to work were much different from what I had imagined. I am still young, energetic, skilled, and eager to do something meaningful, rather than just sitting around and doing meaningless tasks to pass the time.

So after that gap year, I decided to return to work like a normal person. Currently, I have taken on some part-time jobs at consulting companies as a way to reacquaint myself with working. I have not been able to achieve my previous salary, but at least I am getting my life back on track.

Therefore, my advice to those considering early retirement is to have a concrete plan detailing what to do and how to maintain a social life after you stop working. If possible, prepare two or three backup plans in case things do not go as planned. This way, you can avoid wasting your time like I did.

Would you give up a high-income job to take a gap year or retire early?

Reader Hoang Trung

*This opinion was translated into English by AI. Readers’ views are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress’ viewpoints.

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