Although I have only recently quit my job, I actually stopped working several months ago.
Like most people I used to dread the thought of losing my job and had many sleepless nights mulling over the prospect of condemning my family to a life of penury. I was becoming mentally and physically exhausted, but felt that I had to keep going. Then one day everything changed and I suddenly realised that I didn't have to tolerate any more crap. We always have a choice, although it may not always feel that way.
Money is in short supply and I know that at some point in the near future we will drain our bank account dry, but I'm amazed that we've lasted this long. I didn't realise how much money I'd save by not working. Not only have I saved a fortune in fuel and lunch costs, but I've also had the time to do jobs that I would have had to pay other people for (my garden has been completely landscaped for under £500, which is considerably lower than the £3000 I was quoted). It's been a revelation.
I have also learned the art of shopping around - something I never had time for when I was working 40 or more hours a week. I know that a box of tissues will cost 35p in Asda, as opposed to over £1 anywhere else. I have also discovered that my children are much happier playing with driftwood on a beach than going to a theme park. Holidays abroad are out, but thanks to global warming England is becoming positively Mediterranean. Food is becoming a problem - prices have suddenly shot up during the last couple of months, but there are always cheap options.
I don't intend to live like this on a permanent basis. I want to work and would find it very frustrating if I didn't have my duties as a Justice of the Peace to keep me busy. But even if I do earn a decent salary, I will never forget the lessons I have learned during the last few months. Time is more important than money.
If you're stuck in a rut, I'd strongly recommend Tom Hodgkinson's book How to be Free. You'll probably find it in the humour section of a bookshop, but although Hodgkinson is a very amusing writer the core of the book is an extremely well-argued polemic against our post-industrial consumer society. Hodgkinson has no problem with work; it's jobs that he has reservations about and the degree to which they dominate our lives.
A few years ago I read a shocking statistic that said if Americans wanted to maintain the standard of living they had in 1949 (and it was pretty good then), they'd only have to work two days a week. Instead they're working their arses off to buy a lot of things they don't really need and only enjoy two weeks' holiday a year. Madness!
I shall be following Tom Hodgkinson's manifesto, with the possible exception of playing the ukulele. As he wisely says: Life is absurd. We are free. Be merry.