6 Months of Funemployment – Personal Update (and upcoming round-the-world trip)


6 Month Funemployment - Personal Update

Photo by Corie Howell

Last week marked 6 months since leaving my 9-5 day job to pursue my interests for a year.

When I began my journey, I set the following goals for myself:

1. Learn about web design
2. Travel solo for the first time, and
3. Create an income stream doing something I enjoy

As a way of keeping myself on track, here’s my personal update on what I’ve done in the past months and my plans for the next 6 months.

Things I’ve Accomplished

  • Completed a Certificate in web design
    I was initially planning to take a college program, but through a random event I discovered a small studio downtown Toronto. From the time I stepped in for an initial tour, it felt more ‘right’ for me than a traditional academic program. My teacher turned out to be as much of a life teacher as he was a design teacher – he was knowledgeable, practical and zen-like. I couldn’t have asked for a better instructor at that stage of my learning.
  • Began testing 2 ideas for web communities
    I’ve had many ideas in the past for online communities, mostly inspired by not being able to find websites/resources for information I was searching for. In the past months, on a small scale, I’ve tested 2 ideas for adventure travel and education-related communities. I’ve started talking to a few other people about the ideas, so there may be more development on these ideas in the near future.
  • Started designing websites for other people
    On the web design front, I’ve re-designed the website for a Toronto hot yoga studio (currently in the process of being implemented), and submitted proposals to other small businesses for new or redesign of their websites. I plan on increasing the amount of work I do in this area.

What else has happened?

  • Made a new friend this summer
    In another coincidence, I made a new friend this summer who’s visiting from Spain and seemed to be making the same life changes as I have been. She too quit her bank job, travelled, was learning web design, ended a long-term relationship, and we even read some of the same books at the same time. When you feel like no one understands what you’re going through, it’s nice to be reminded there are other people who are experiencing life parallels.
  • Discovered my ‘photography style’
    I’ve been interested in photography for a few years, but never figured out what type of pictures I liked taking. After stitching together a few panoramas from my first camping at a Canadian national park, I was amazed at how much my panorama resembled like the landscape I saw in person. It was love at first sight.

    Here’s one of my photos: Halfway Rock Point, Bruce Peninsula

  • Connected with freelancers and entrepreneurs
    Through conferences and events I’ve found around the city, I’ve learned more about freelancing and entrepreneurship in the last few months than I have my entire life. Before, everyone I knew were employees, and now 95% of the people interact with on a daily basis are in business for themselves – I’ve slowly started to get used to this idea, so we will see how it plays out.

The plan for the next 6 months

  • Travel solo to Asia and South Pacific
    I’m planning an extended trip to Asia and the South Pacific. It’s my first time travelling solo, and it’s taken a while for me to work up the courage to go alone, mostly out of fear of feeling lonely, but now I feel as ready as I’ll ever be. I’m currently getting quotes for airfare with a departure of mid-November to early December. If you are interested in meeting up, or have travel tips for these areas, I’d love to hear from you!

    I also have lots of items for sale, if you’re in the Toronto area.

    The tentative itinerary is:
    Toronto -> India (1 month)
    India -> Thailand/Southeast Asia (1-2 months) and down to Singapore
    Singapore -> Australia/New Zealand/Fiji (1 month)
    Back to Toronto

  • Learn more about web development
    Now that I have more knowledge about creating front-ends of websites and content management, I want to learn more about the back-end. After a number of suggestions from developers, I’m planning to pick up a PHP/SQL book.
  • Add to Explore for a year
    I was inspired to start this blog when I resigned from my bank job after my colleagues and friends asked what I’d do during my time off and if I would blog about my adventure.

    In the past months, I’ve had a lot of reader feedback about questioning the 9-5 cubicle lifestyle and the barriers that prevent people from switching careers or (re)discovering what they are passionate about. I understand the pain of not feeling connected to what you spend your days doing, so in hope of helping more people find clarity and courage, I want to add more articles about taking extended time off and stories from people who have transitioned from a cubicle-type job to something they feel connected to. .

    If you, or someone you know, would like to share a story about escaping the cubicle or pursuing their passion, I’d love to hear from you.

The last 6 months has flown by and it’s been amazing to spend my time self-directing my days. The big focus in the next 6 months is going to be creating or finding income doing what I enjoy. I’m not sure if that means finding a job, freelancing or otherwise, but I look forward to what the upcoming months bring.

>> If you’d like to wish me well, have travel tips, or have ideas for articles on Explore for a Year, please do say hi below :) I wish you much joy and happiness.

External resources:

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  • Lizard_444

    Did you end up going on your trip??  How was it??

  • there we go, I am not alone in this. Yes you are right it is always nice to be reminded of that. I left my job last December and  I embarked a year of Interactive Travelling myself. I would be more than interested to share thought with you and surely I will follow your blog while I am trying to keep going the one I have just started about my personal adventure ;) Keep posting!!!



  • Pingback: Round-the-World Trip Planning – Interview with Kim Dinan()

  • Sisil

    Hi Lily,

    Love your blog! I am about to do something similar – though it involves starting a business at my home country (Indonesia) and maybe learning Mandarin (in Beijing), etc. Do you mind me asking about the downtown web design course you took for certification? Where/what/who is it?

    • Hi Sisil

      I took my class at Toronto Image Works, which is in Toronto, Canada. It was full-time for 3 months and I got a certificate for it (I already finished university). Good luck with your pursuits and if you have more questions about the web classes, email me at lily[at]exploreforayear.com. 

      Thanks for stopping by!
      – Lily

  • Jaime_presto009

    It was a pleasure meeting you Lily even for a few hour on the train. I was reading your blogs and I find it inspiring for I don’t know what I want in life yet. I have a feeling you’ll be successful in whatever you are doing cause it is something you are passionate about. Success is not about how rich you have become but in the end it’s about doing what you love and achieving your goals. Good job on taking that leap of faith. 

    • Hi Jaime,

      It was great chatting with you on the train too and I hope you’re having a wonderful trip around Europe. Thanks for your kind words and the encouragement. Sometimes taking the leap of faith takes courage, but when you look back doing what scares or excites you the most always points you to the path that makes you become a bigger and better person.

      Safe travels and hope you’re doing well!
      – Lily

  • Lily:

    I think what you are doing is inspiring. I did something like this when my mother passed on and when to Italy with my son for almost 4 months. That was 20 years ago. I am glad that I did as my son said it was the best trip!
    And now I am unemployed (downsized) and trying to get a new business started. I will aim for this and see how things pan out. I don’t want to be on my death bed and have regrets.

    • Hi Vanda,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m sorry to hear about your mother passing… sounds like it was a catalyst to do inspire a new adventure. Your son must be very lucky to travel with you and to remember the trip so beautifully.

      Cheers to no regrets and good luck on your new business. Keep us updated :)

      – Lily

  • I love that you found an alternative way to get your certificate. More and more I’m starting to feel like a traditional education isn’t me anymore. I hate to think that I HAVE to get a BA, but if I find other opportunities, I’m going for them.

  • Lily,

    Best of lucks in your new projects! I have the feeling that you’re going to do very well…I look forward to hear about your trip :)


    • Hi Federico, thanks for your good wishes. I’ll definitely be sharing updates and photos during my trip.

      I look forward to your travel updates too :)

      – Lily

  • Anonymous

    Hey Lily, good for you…love the chances you’re taking! It will make you grow as a person. BTW, you’ll love traveling “solo” and you’ll met all kinds of interesting people along the way.

    All the best,

    • Hi Mike, thanks so much for stopping by. Your extended road trip around North America looks like quite the adventure! I was just reading your blog entries for British Columbia and you just reminded me that doing a road trip across Canada is something on my bucket list :)

      I just subscribed to your email newsletter so I’m look forward to your updates. Let me know when you plan to stop by Toronto/Ontario, I’d be happy to give recommendations :)


  • Singa

    Lily!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry it took so long for me to actually get onto your blog and read it. I have had the privilege of watching you explore, experiment and grow as a person. You are inspirational because of your courage – the courage to quit a secure job, to pursue a different career and mostly you are courageous because you willing explore who you are, emotionally, psychologically etc. I love that you share your discoveries about yourself, the world and others with me. You have given me so much to think about, particularly as i embark on a new stage in my life. Anyhow, I’ll probably see you later. *muah*!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll miss you when you leave this frigid country!


    • Hi Singa,

      You brought tears to my eyes with your beautiful, kind and encouraging words. I’m so lucky to have you as a friend. In the 10 years we’ve been friends, you have been there for me each time it really counted. You are beautiful, brilliant and creative, I adore and look up to you very much – something I’ve told you from the first time we meet volunteering back in high school.

      Much love,

  • This was just inspirational to say the least. I’ve just discovered living life less stressful and have began a blog on my ideas and my personal journey. After reading this I really plan to embark on a journey to really explore life and enjoy the venture. I hope you continue to find new and exciting opportunities and friends.

    • Hi Alyx, thanks for your kind words. I wish you all the best in your journey as well and I look forward to seeing your blog and Twitter updates :)

  • OOh I iwish I was living your life right now. I would like to freelance without having to do a 9-5 job. and travel again to India. I lovvvvee India!
    Beautiful picture too! You have great photography skills!

    • Thanks for the complements on the photo! I’m heading to India in the next few weeks, so I’m going to contact you for any tips for India :)

  • wayne sanford

    I really admire what you are doing. I am almost 70 and wish that we had the resources that are avaiable today. I wish you all the best and look forward to hearing more…..Wayne in Richmond Hill Ontario.