A career break, an adult gap year, a sabbatical, a quit your job to travel the world…whatever you want to call it, it is a planned exit from the corporate world with the intention of doing something non-work related. Career breaks can be taken to go back to school, to raise a family, to work on a personal project, write a book, start a business, dig deep into who you truly are, care for a sick family member, or my personal favorite, travel the world!
Why Do People Take These?
Sometimes it is really hard to imagine why someone would purposefully leave a career they have invested so much time and energy into. Hard work is something that has been deeply ingrained into us as a society. In order to earn money, you must work. Hard. In fact, the harder you work, the more responsibility you will get, which in turn will require you to work even harder, but don’t worry…Instead of Director you are now Vice President which seems to have huge significance until we start to ponder the grand scheme of things and realize it is just a label that has very little significance outside of the corporate bubble. Oh yeah, but you’ll likely get more money for that, but you also get less time. And when you really think about it, which is more valuable? Time or money? Money or time? One of these you can’t get back…the other, an endless supply. Hmmm.
That turned into a tangent and a half, but it leads to the answer of the original question. Why do people take career breaks? It may be a combination of many things, but the underlying reason is that they realize the true value of their time. Some work environments can be toxic and stressful and when your most valuable resource yields nothing but burnout and a paycheck, one may start to question: is it worth it?
This takes us back to the original indoctrinated belief of hard work which tends to go hand in hand with struggle. When we have a deeply seeded belief that life is hard and success is the be-all-end-all, we tend to not ask ourselves the right questions. Have you ever had the feeling that if you aren’t struggling you aren’t trying hard enough? If you aren’t worrying or trying to control a situation then you don’t care enough? These are stories and they are fake news. Struggle is not related to effort, worry is not related to impact.
People who take career breaks typically feel something within them telling them that there is more out there for them than this current job. For some, they may not know what that “thing” is yet, but there is a nagging feeling telling them to go figure it out. For others, they may know exactly what is missing and finally decide that being true to their desires is more important than the longevity of an unfulfilling career.
What Happens After a Career Break?
Well, that depends on the person. Some will head back to the workforce with a clear head whether it be the same job, same industry, completely new career trajectory, the possibilities are endless. Some may decide the corporate world isn’t for them after all. Considering there are infinite ways to make money without being an employee, this option is more viable than ever.
How Do I Know a Career Break is Right for Me?
Have a seat and close your eyes and envision yourself in the midst of your ideal career break. Whether that is on a tropical beach sipping a Mai Tai or nose deep in that course you’ve been dying to take or on your hands and knees harvesting the beautiful vegetables from your massive new garden. How do you feel? Excited, exhilarated, liberated? Or do you feel anxious or worried? Some people truly value stability above all else. If the idea of departing from your career has you weak in the knees in a bad way, it might not be for you. Do be mindful that if you are feeling the struggle and burnout, maybe a new job is in your future instead. However, if you are getting that warm fuzzy feeling that this is something you’ve always wanted, that’s how you know it is right for you. It has nothing to do with the logistics, the money, the future of your career. Those are all things that can be navigated (and I can help). We tend to limit ourselves by saying, “I would do this but…” or “I will do this when…” or “I will do this someday…”
The fact of the matter is that someday becomes never. When is replaced with a new when once the original when is achieved. Every possible but is fear disguised as an excuse. If you truly want this, and it’s not for everyone, but if you would value the reset, value the uninterrupted time to dedicated toward something you are passionate about, value actually putting your life as the priority as opposed to work, make it happen. The time is now. What are you waiting for?
Can I Get Support on this Journey?
Absolutely! Whether you are on the fence about whether this is right for you or super gung-ho but don’t know how to get started, Cali O’Connor, a career break coach, offers 1:1 packages to help you navigate the entire process from overcoming any limiting beliefs that make you feel a career break isn’t possible for you, to setting a date and planning your exit, to designing a fulfilling and intentional break. Book a complimentary call here.
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