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Why are career breaks essential for career success? Is it right for you?

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March 1st, 2024 09:28

Introduction 

A career break is an agreed-upon amount of time taken off from work, either for personal or professional reasons or for reasons related to the family. Career breaks typically last between one month and two years, though some people take shorter breaks in the beginning, like ones of just one month, to test out new hobbies and determine whether they enjoy them before committing to lengthier ones. 

Career vacations, also known as "adult gap years," have become more common as workers try to strike a better work-life balance. People take a career break for various reasons, such as volunteer work, travel or backpacking, training and development, caring for family members or children, or employment overseas. Sabbatical is a term that's connected. Some people interchangeably use the words, even though a sabbatical typically has religious overtones; in its strictest sense, a sabbatical lasts 12 months and is based on biblical passages where agricultural workers are required to take a year off from working in the fields.

A job break can initially seem intimidating, but it might be the best choice you've ever made. A break could inspire you to find fresh motivation, upskill, or even start a new career path. You could take a sabbatical or professional break for anywhere between one month and more than a year. People are taking vacations later in life for more and more reasons, including mental health, learning a language, travelling, and simply experiencing the world. Furthermore, you might be surprised to learn that some employers support professional breaks.

When to consider a break?

How can you tell when a vacation from work is necessary? It's a personal option; some people may find it simpler than others. Following are a few typical justifications for taking a leave of absence.

1. Prioritizing your mental health

Your physical and emotional well-being suffer when you are under a lot of stress. By the time you start to experience burnout signs like irritability, persistent fatigue, or sleep issues, you've probably been under pressure for a while. You can request a stress leave from work if it's affecting your ability to perform. You would then have the room to recover and offer your best effort fully.

2. Seek higher education

Returning to school can be an excellent way to advance your career or make a career change, pick up new skills, increase your income, and change jobs. You won't have to take time off from work to attend because night classes are available for many professional university degrees. However, you might need to dedicate yourself full-time based on the programme. You must also be willing to pay the full price upfront. Be sure that you can safeguard your financial well-being before committing to going.

3. Pursue other interests

You are a multifaceted individual. Consequently, you might have interests outside of the profession you want to follow. Because life is so short, it is essential to follow your passions, but some endeavours require time. You must devote a significant amount of time to the endeavour if you want to write a book or try starting your own business, and you can accomplish that with the aid of a brief vacation.

4. Work on a lost passion

Now is your opportunity to pursue your dreams of becoming a photographer or an expert in a sport like sailing, skiing, or snowboarding. Finding time for new hobbies can be challenging when you work nine to five, but taking a job break could help you advance in just a few months. You could even advance to the instructor level with specialized training that prepares you with formal credentials, such as our ski teacher and snowboard instructor courses.

Finding a pastime you excel at and genuinely enjoy will give you a great sense of achievement and purpose and position you for a better work-life balance when you get home.

5. Learning new skills 

Take advantage of your career break to acquire real-world experience and skills that could aid your promotion, transfer to a new position, or enter a different field.

For instance, you could manage an excursion, organize a group of volunteers, or become a ski patroller. A paid position like an English teacher could open the door to a new training, education, or international employment position. Additionally, running a bar in a ski resort would offer you management and leadership abilities and the experience you need to begin a job in the hospitality or snowsports sector. You'll be more likely to succeed in whatever future endeavour you choose if you have experiences that force you to step outside of your comfort zone and expand your perspective.

7. Learn a Language

Speaking another language is very beneficial for both emotional and professional reasons. The best learning method is to live abroad, interact with the locals, and fully immerse in their culture. Local language classes can help you become more confident and teach you the fundamentals. The best way to advance is to make friends with native speakers, find part-time work in the area, and avoid other English speakers who will inevitably tempt you to stop using the dialect.

8. Try a new career

Starting a new job from scratch is a big step, but taking a career break gives you an ideal chance to test something out. Give yourself six months or more to gain experience, try, and have fun; don't stress about how good you'll be or how much you'll make. Consider working with animals in the Amazon forest, becoming a certified ski teacher, or teaching in Tanzania. If you want to work for yourself, you could enrol in a course in graphic design, start a blog about travel, or even begin composing the book you've always wanted to.

9. Reaffirm your life 

A career break is an ideal time to test something out because starting a brand-new profession from scratch is a big decision. Give yourself at least six months to gain experience, try it, and enjoy yourself. Don't stress how good you'll be or how much money you'll make. Why not consider working with animals in the Amazon, teaching in Tanzania, or becoming a certified ski teacher? You could enrol in a course in graphic design, start a blog about travel, or even begin writing the book you've always wanted to register for if you're going to work for yourself.

Cons of a career break

Undoubtedly, there are risks involved in having a career break. Your physical and emotional health can benefit greatly from removing yourself from everyday stresses, but you should be careful to avoid these pitfalls:

1. You might have to defend yourself from potential employees. More people quit working to care for themselves or their families during the pandemic. In some ways, this assisted in normalizing the practice. However, when you return to the workforce, potential companies might be wary of your post-career break resume.

2. Your professional growth might halt. You might only learn about significant opportunities for advancement if you're in the workplace. It may hinder your ability to advance in your job or affect your chances of getting that promotion you've wished for.

3. You might lose contact with your industry. If you aren't constantly involved in the industry, remaining on top of the most recent trends and practices can be difficult.

4. Your bank funds might suffer. Professional pauses can be pricey. If you take a gap year and explore the world, you'll have to pay for food, lodging, and plane tickets. The expenses mount up even if you spend your leave at home. Before taking a job break, make sure you can pay your bills and feed your family.

Sabbaticals – What to know

A more official method is a sabbatical. A "sabbatical policy" may be in place at a business, allowing workers to take a predetermined amount of time off. The typical job "perks," like getting paid and contributing to your pension, might be suspended for the sabbatical. Employees do, however, have the comfort of going back to work. The amount of time permitted varies by business. It may only be available to staff members at a specific organizational level, such as senior managers or full-time employees. It is the choice for those preparing to return to their previous position or industry.

A career break might be what you need to feel enthusiastic about work again if you're willing to take these risks. Then you can get ready for your return when you're ready. Taking a break from work to reevaluate where your business is going and how you want it to develop when you return can be helpful.