In September 2014, I took a career break from my job as a Primary School Teacher. After much fear and deliberation about what I would do on my gap year, worry about travelling abroad on my solo adventure and especially financial worries about not earning an income for the considerable future… I set off for Los Angeles and had a wonderful time!
In today’s blog, I outline some of the advice that I would give myself back then when I took my Career Break.
My first piece of advice is…
Truth be known, I was terrified a lot of the time in the run up to my trip – I would be spending my hard earned savings, I spoke no Spanish and was travelling solo to South America and I was afraid of traveling solo full stop. Acknowledging my feelings and taking the leap anyway – was the best thing I could have done. Looking back on it, I feel that yoga and meditation would have helped me to relax more and process these fearful feelings. I met dozens if not hundreds of people who helped me along the way and that made things easier. I quickly realised too, that others traveled solo too and they too, were scared (and lonely!) at times. We were ALL together in the midst of a fantastic adventure. Regardless of why you may be taking a career break – if you feel passionately that you need to take it for your mental health or for your family apply anyway – nothing ventured, nothing gained
On my trip across the States I traveled with a Tour Company and saw amazing sights – We had a pizza party at sunset at the Grand Canyon, partied on the Las Vegas Strip, visited the Mississippi river, camped with the raccoons, attended an American Football college game and spent a night under the stars at Monument Valley. As the only Irish person in the group – and the only English speaking solo traveler – at times, I felt that I didn’t fit in well in the group.
Did it stop me from enjoying the experience? No way!! I am darn lucky to have visited those sensational places and I have phenomenal memories! I remind myself often in life – not to take things personally – some people will ‘get you’ others won’t. That’s ok!
Also, before I left and when I returned from my travels – I worried too much – about what people would think. I worried that they would be asking – “Why are you taking a career break?!”
People were curious for a bit – then, you know what? – they went back to living their own lives – and so did I!!
I distinctly remember the day – that I knew was payday and – I knew that no more wages would be coming into my bank account. It was spending my savings from now on. Luckily, I had enough savings to help me travel in the USA and through lots of South America. I decided that I would not work there and return home when the money was running out. I returned home for 6 months and then returned to Central America for 3 months in my second year career break.
If I was doing it again, I feel that getting a firmer grip on my finances would have befitted me. It’s a scary prospect having no income and returning home to no job so a clearer plan would have made things less stressful for me. Speaking to a financial adviser, would be a good investment towards getting clear on my finances and what actions I needed to take on Career Break.
Now I admit that I’m somewhat of a adventurous spirit, I don’t have very many financial burdens so it was/is easier for me to travel. I do believe however, that life is meant to be enjoyed and that part of living your best life is to do the things that you want (even if they scare you!) What is an adventure for you?
Perhaps it is to go to Jumpzone with the kids or doing that big charity fundraiser or investing in a professional development course for yourself.
The key is to put that intention in place and take action towards making it a reality.
Leave the phone down more. Read more. Hang out in hostels meeting other travelers (forget Tripadvisor) real people – give the best advice! Connect in person with others – because all too quickly time will have moved on.
Taking a career break can give you a wonderful break from your job and the stresses it entails. It can give you more time to dedicate to what you feel you need to do. Whether it be to travel, to study, to try something new, to look after a relative or raise a family – it is an adventure in itself. Creating a clear plan about how you will use your career break is the key to returning to work (or not) with a valuable experience behind you. Begin planning your career break asap. Yes, it is a big step but it is also the start to a new chapter!
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