I was always someone who HAD to do something to progress my career.
If I didn’t, it meant that I was falling behind, which also meant that I was failing in Life.
I hated failing.
But one day, I found myself serving my notice period without another job lined up. Unwillingly, I had to take a sabbatical.
The sabbatical ended up lasting eight months.
I know I’m not alone in this. Recently, a colleague of mine resigned, and she had nothing lined up either. She needed to take a break to figure out what she wanted.
What saddened me was that she kept trying to justify why she was taking a career break. She mentioned that she would be selling part-time, so that she’s not ‘bumming around’ – as if being unemployed without a career prospect is the WORST thing a person can be.
Which made me think, what’s wrong with resting? And why does society immediately assume that someone taking a break is useless?
If you are considering taking a break (and are financially stable enough to do so), you should absolutely do it. Here’s why my career break ended up being the best decision I ever made.
It Allowed Me to Rest
When I say rest, I mean REALLY rest.
I took one month off from the job search. This included any freelance or part-time jobs. I was tempted to ‘be productive’, but I knew that my mind and body needed rest.
That one month gave me a break from stressing out about deadlines, projects, bosses, and colleagues. It was a complete shut off. For the first time, I turned my focus fully to something other than work.
It was liberating.
I guess the hardest part of this was convincing myself that I deserved this, and that there will be something for me when I decide to go back to the job hunt. It made me anxious, but I knew that this was what I needed.
Resting means you get more time to develop your creativity and discovering new passions and hobbies. In fact, studies show that being busy is one of the main killers of creativity. To be a more creative person, you need rest.
It Pointed Me to the Right Career Direction
A career break helps your career. How contradictory does that sound?
Most of the time, we just keep going with our jobs. But we never really stop to think WHY we do what we do, or if there is a better way to do it.
During my break, I started to really think about what I wanted. I made a mental note of the things I liked, and pursued it. I spent more time socialising and volunteering in local communities.
Little did I know that it would make me a better communicator, which made me more comfortable around people.
That skill has been crucial in my current job.
The lesson here is, you’ll never know when your personal activities during your career break will end up being a marketable skill. So take this chance to discover yourself!
I Was More Productive in My Personal Life
I am never one to believe in overworking and giving away your life to the company. But that was what happened to me.
Like most people, I worked until I had no time for my personal life. I had to be selective of which errands I could do on the weekends, because there’s only so much that could be done. Having me-time was near impossible.
I was so engrossed with work that I couldn’t remember the last time I had a proper conversation with my mom. By the time I got home, I would be too tired, or it would be too late.
So, one of the things I loved about taking a break was that I got to spend time with my family. In the end, isn’t that what’s most important?
It Made Me a Happier Person
Taking a break had a ripple effect. When I had more me-time, spent time with family, and cleared my head, it made me a happier person. Life was more fulfilling, and it made me less anxious.
I knew that I couldn’t escape the stress that comes with work, but I did learn that sometimes, all we need is a simple recharge.
Although most of us see a career break as taking a step back, it really isn’t. Looking back, if I’d just continued from one job to another, I would’ve moved forward slowly and without direction.
While a career break is like stopping in your tracks for a moment, it’ll propel you to where you need to be.
It’s time we stopped feeling bad about taking career breaks and start to consider taking one. Life is not a race.
For more articles about on discovering your dream career, read 4 Career Lies We Need to Stop Believing Right Now, and I Took Five Years to Get My Dream Job – Here’s How You Can Too.