Not quite sure if taking a career break is the right decision for you? Here are the top ten very good reasons for taking that leap...do any of them seem familiar to you?
1. Career Dissatisfaction
Perhaps itâs the job itself thatâs making you unhappy...or maybe itâs the career path that you have chosen? Or perhaps you are just not sure? Taking a career break, even if it is only for a few months, can give you that space and distance you need to look at the direction you are heading in.
Away from the daily grind, you may find that actually you quite like what you are doing, and perhaps just need to go back with more focus on a particular area, or tell your boss that youâd like more experience in a certain field. Following a break, youâre likely to come back to work with a different perspective and realise what it is about the job that attracted you in the first place.
Alternatively, you may come to the decision that you do enjoy what you do, but arenât happy with where you are doing it, and that the time has come to make a move and apply for a new job.
"Taking a career break can give you that space and distance you need to look at the direction you are heading in."
Or, that space could help you realise that you really do need to change what you are doing. Itâs not making you happy and the thought of going back to it is making you feel sick or depressed. Itâs not just the job thatâs the problem; youâve taken the wrong turn in your career and really should be doing something else instead.
Whatever the outcome, a career break will give you perspective to look at why you are dissatisfied and help you come up with practical solutions to the problem.
2. To Make A Difference
Whether it is teaching a Sri Lankan boy how to speak English or helping to build toilets or a schoolhouse for an African community, knowing that you have really made a contribution and helped someone or something (animal volunteer projects are another option), can be hugely rewarding.
Taking time out to do something for others may feel counter-intuitive in todayâs hard economic times, where we often need to to think of ourselves first just to survive, but, in the long run, you will find the satisfaction of making a difference to someone else will actually make a huge difference to you too.
3. You Want To See The World
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didnât do than by the ones you did do." - Mark Twain
Travelling is one of those things that can so easily be put off until the time is right, or even until retirement in some cases. But, you know what, the time is never going to be perfect and plenty of people end up with other responsibilities in retirement (looking after grandkids, an ill partner, or chairing the bowls club) that prevent them from travelling just the same. And how often do you see a pensioner bungee jumping or white water rafting?
If travelling really is on your must do list then it makes sense that you plan it into your life while you can enjoy it. Who knows what might happen in the future?
After all, we have at least forty odd years of our working lives to play with. And who wants to work non stop for forty years?
4. To Get Experience
There are times when you canât move upwards, or in a different direction without the relevant experience. But, of course, getting that experience is not always easy. One way to get that experience could be a career break, where you go abroad to get the kind of practical immersion you would never have access to in this country, all whilst enjoying learning about and experiencing a new culture at the same time.
For instance, broadcasting is an extremely competitive area but an internship with organisations such as Projects Abroad (www.projectsabroad.co.uk) might just help give you that competitive edge. Projects Abroad have a number of schemes where you can gain experience with radio broadcasting in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mongolia, and Ghana.
5. To Try Out A New Life
If youâve been considering a complete change of direction, but arenât quite sure and are worried about throwing everything away on a whim, then taking a career break to get a taster what life would be like in that field can be very helpful.
For instance, if youâve always felt that you really should be working in the medical field, then an internship with a company like Intern Latin America (www.internlatinamerica.com) will give you an idea of what itâs like to work in that profession.
You may decide that you love it and come back ready to follow your new found direction, or, equally, you may come to the conclusion that itâs actually not for you. But the point is that experiencing this on a career break means that you have the space to think about it, as well as the opportunity to experience it, and really see for yourself if itâs right for you...without throwing everything away.
6. Your Partner or Best Mate Wants to Go
Perhaps itâs not you that wants a career break at all. Perhaps your best mate has been nagging you to join them, or your partner has their sights set on taking some time out of their working life. Before you dismiss it, look around our Career Gap site, read through articles like this and think about how a career break might benefit you. You donât have to be unhappy in your job, or at a crossroads in life, to benefit from a break. And the bonding and camaraderie youâll experience doing it with someone you really care about can be a reward all in itself. It is one of lifeâs great adventures after all!
Being hit with redundancy can be a huge shock but, sometimes, rushing into another job in a fit of panic is not the answer.
By taking a career break you will give yourself time to consider what it is you want from your next job or position. After all you will need to do the job hunt at some point - why not give yourself a bit of a break and perhaps embark on the hunt when youâre back refreshed and perhaps even re-skilled.
Whatâs more, if youâve come away with a redundancy payment, you will hopefully be able to afford a career break and consider it money well used. Just remember to think your travel budget through carefully and put aside some of that money for your return when you will have to start job hunting.
8. Big Life Milestones
"Perhaps youâve always wanted to travel and are starting to realise how short life is, or maybe you need the challenge..."
Significant birthdays, divorce, death of a loved one...all these can make us question what we are doing and why and how we are doing it.
Perhaps youâve always wanted to travel and are starting to realise how short life is, or maybe you need the challenge and adventure to take your mind off a broken heart. Debbie Suenson-Taylor and her husband James decided to celebrate their new found freedom by taking a career break when their youngest child left home.
Milestones make us examine our lives and, for some, taking a career break is the answer they come up with.
9. Immersing Yourself In Another Culture
Working or staying somewhere for a significant amount of time allows you to dig below the surface and really get to know a country and the people in it. Itâs an experience that can be hugely rewarding and stay with you for the rest of your life.
Even if you are staying in a country that speaks the same language, there are bound to be huge cultural differences, and learning about these, and getting to understand them, can be profound.
Sarah Matthews left South Africa to live in London and is working at Essential Travel as a Marketing Assistant:
âComing up to a year of being in the UK, I can safely say I was naturally hesitant to move. Itâs bittersweet leaving your home, friends and family but itâs also an incredibly exciting chapter to work, live and make friends in a new city. I feel proud of being able to have made the move and in retrospect have learnt a lot from my time away. Iâm more open to the people, the culture and the way of doing things. It also gives you an opportunity to appreciate certain things about your own culture and share that with people you meet along your journey.â
Career wise, returning not only with vastly improved language skills, but also first hand knowledge of a particular culture, can be a big selling point CV-wise.
If youâve been stuck in the same old victim mode for as long as you can remember, bemoaning the fact that there are no decent men/women/jobs/life, or that you really canât stand the man/woman/job/life you already have, you can stop stop the cycle by focusing on someone else for a change.
Instead of wallowing in your old world of self-absorption, volunteer and do something to take your mind off it. Really seeing the problems that other people face, and how serious some of them can be compared to our own often self-absorbed issues, can be hugely therapeutic, and even make us tremendously grateful for what we do have.