Should I Take A Career Break? What Are The Implications?

Q: Should I Take A Career Break? What Are The Implications?

If running the rat race starts getting harder to do, you might want to consider taking a break. A career break can be taken for a variety of reasons. You may want to write a novel, study a subject/language or even travel the world. Before you clear up your desk, it's very important to understand what a career break is all about and be able to answer these key questions:

  • Do you have the financial capability to take the break?
  • How will you keep busy during all that time?
  • Is your company flexible enough to make it happen? 
  • Do you have what it takes to make it successful?
  • What will you do to ensure you are still competitive when or if you return to your job?

What is a Career Break?

A career break is a form of leave or “break” away from your job, taken for an extended period of time. Career breaks are usually unpaid (though it's awesome to get some time away from work, right?) but other career breaks are paid (if you are lucky enough).

A career break may be in the form of a sabbatical leave (for academics) and usually lasts for a period of 2 to 36 months. It is often referred to as an “adult” gap year.

Why Contemplate A Career Break?

  • Career breaks can help you learn new skills. Let’s say you plan to spend your break in China. In order to comprehend what people are saying, you end up learning some mandarin. The ability to speak mandarin represents a new skill you would not have acquired had you not taken the career break. The wonderful part is, if you happen to have Chinese clients, your company will be more than happy to have you back.
  • Career breaks can help you explore your passion. Are there things you always wished you could do before you got stuck in the rat race? Is there any hobby you let go of because you needed to focus on your career? Well, a career break can help you get back in the groove again! Perhaps you used to love baking but eventually lost the time for this because you had to focus on your career? Taking a career break will give you the opportunity to bake all you want. Who knows? You may even be able to get a successful side business started.
  • Career breaks give you time to evaluate your career. Career breaks are also very helpful if you need some time to evaluate your life and career. You'll be able to reflect by asking yourself these key questions:
    • Where do I see myself in the next five years? Will I still be working with this company, doing what I do?
    • Is this the kind of job I have always wanted?
    • Is this career path fulfilling?
    • In what aspects do I need improvement?
    • Am I productive at work?

Thinking about these questions and proffering answers to them can help you decide whether or not you want to continue on your present track.

The powerful thing about taking a break is that it will allow you to reflect on your career, refocus your efforts or even cause a change in your career direction. People often get involved in volunteering, learning a new language and teaching. You must be prepared for anything however, including the possibility that you may never return to your old job.

Most people get deterred from making this move because of the risk of losing their jobs, the challenge of supporting themselves financially during the break and the possibility of the employer not agreeing to it in the first place. While the universe may not line up everything in your favour, there is some sense of fulfilment to be gained from knowing that you followed your dreams and did what you wanted to do without waiting your entire life for retirement.

Picture Attribution

"Cartoon Businessman Sleeping On Working Time" by iosphere/