Former Business Developer student, Christian Rodriguez has been on quite the employment journey. From rocket scientist to digital creator to agile coach, Christian could easily be the poster boy for career identity crisis. But whilst unemployment can destroy some people’s confidence, it inspired him to the point of liberation. Find out all about the lows and mainly highs of Christian’s experience through uncertainty.

Overcoming job loss during uncertain times

I’ve been an aerospace engineer, surf manager, graphic designer, content creator and even a food photographer! Ironically, having these identities and then losing them all made me realise that who I am isn’t defined by my resumé or my achievements. I’m more than that.

I just landed my dream job as an agile coach. However, a month in, the pandemic hit, and the next thing I knew I was being laid off. Although my employer explained that it wasn’t in relation to my job performance, all I could hear was: “It’s not you, it’s me.” It really felt like a breakup.

That moment I became unemployed felt painful; I was devastated.

In the beginning, I avoided people because I didn’t want to tell anyone that I’d been laid off. Part of me was afraid of dealing with the conversation that I was unemployed.

“There’s a stigma of being unemployed, and I felt ashamed to be one of the people that got affected.”


But eventually, after consuming countless Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough flavoured ice-cream, I started sharing the news with friends and it felt instantaneously better. Someone gave me a bit of advice that really resonated with me:

“Suffering is done alone, struggling is done together.”


I decided to reach out to other people that’d also been laid off and took support from them.

What ultimately got me through this job loss was The 100 Days of Unemployment Experiment.

The 100 Days of Unemployment Experiment

I created this experiment after boldly choosing to be actively unemployed. At this time, people with five years of experience weren’t even able to get a job. So, for me, with five months of experience as an Agile Coach, finding another job felt completely out of the question.

“I was questioning my self-worth and felt lost. I was afraid of what people would think of me if I didn’t have my job.”


Instead of seeing this experience as an obstacle, I decided to view it as an opportunity for self-growth. I faced my fears head on; forcing myself to be unemployed and to live without an “identity”.

The rules of this experiment were simple:

  1. Live without a job for 100 days.
  2. Own your unemployment as a badge of honour, and tell people you are actively unemployed.

For each day of active unemployment, I made a doodle/drawing of the day I was on (See image below). It was part of several mini projects that I did within the experiment with the goal to become a bit more creative! I decided to share my progress and write about it on LinkedIn.

It went VIRAL!

The first week, 10 recruiters reached out offering interviews. I said no to them all.

The liberating feeling of active unemployment

If you’re great at what you do, you want to associate with it. Our job and career give us more than just a paycheck. They give us purpose and a mission.

And with great work, comes recognition, status, and belonging. You’ll not only get rewarded, but you also get praised.

“These things are a reinforcement of our identity. And when our identity is heavily tied to your job, losing it can seem catastrophic.”


Over time, a new feeling took over, relief. For the first time in my life, I removed myself from my job. Telling people I was actively unemployed was truly liberating.

I took away three learnings from this whole experience:

  1. The fears of shame and self-worth were worse in my mind than in reality.
  2. Praise and validation from others is a “drug”. When you seek this addiction, others now have the power to make you happy and miserable.
  3. My job is not my identity.

Why you should choose uncertainty

People choose unhappiness over uncertainty and I say choose uncertainty, even if it’s scary to take the leap of faith!

I remember that when I was going to quit my job, my first concern (and fear) was not having an income.

“Ask yourself this: how much money do you need to have in your bank account to feel ‘safe’ for you to be unemployed?”


Just knowing that number makes taking the step of taking a break much less daunting.

Re-entering the real world of work

A friend of mine at H&M Group recommended me to apply for a role as a Scrum Master. I didn’t match the seniority level they were looking for, but the manager of this department still gave me a chance. A couple of months later I asked him why he hired me and he said:

“You got balls! I saw your “100 Days Of Unemployment” challenge and was inspired by your courage and vulnerability. We need more people like you in H&M Group.”


My role as a Scrum Master is to coach my team to improve their way of work, so they work as efficiently as possible. If the team is the engine, I try to be the oil, meaning that I try to make everything as frictionless and free-flowing as possible.

An unemployment story to resonate with

After 8 months in my new role, I applied for TEDxStockholm’s Idea Search 2022.

The brief was straightforward: do you have an idea worth sharing to a live audience and why are you the right person to share this idea?

“The biggest challenge was that you only had 59 seconds to share your idea. I knew I wanted to tell my story.”


At the end of the day, who knows what it might do for others?

My idea was to start with the question: “Why does losing your job feel like losing yourself?”. I would then describe my journey of embracing unemployment, telling the audience that I’d been hired and promoted, but also fired and demoted. I’d had more than 10 different roles over my 10 years in the world of work, which made me (in my opinion) the right person to talk about this idea.

Long story short: I won! And that’s insane!

The win was a satisfying personal indicator that my talk resonated with the live audience. Together with the four other finalists: I now have the chance to stand on the big TedxStockholm stage that has become so synonymous with the brand. *Crossing my fingers!*

Quick-fire tips for finding identity outside of your job

  • Separate your professional side with your private side. At some point these two sides will mix and become one. By default, one of the first go-to’s in a conversation with someone is what we work with. I challenge you to try to share something different with others.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Work seems so serious and you need to be so professional. I mean honestly, we are just intelligent monkeys meeting each other and doing a ritual that brings in money.
  • Have a voice outside of work. Find a passion that drives you. In my case, it’s writing blogs and creating content.
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Article updated on: 13 March 2024