For many, the idea of taking a break six years into my career was a head scratcher. Seemingly, I was on the up and up, I was developing a good network of contacts, and I was seeing success on so many fronts.
But, I was also on the verge of burning out. The long and intense hours were starting to take their toll. I was finding it hard to not think or strategize about work in the evenings, on the weekends, or even during savasana in yoga. It was becoming all consuming and unhealthy.
On top of that, I was confused. Thanks to social media and digital marketing, the industry and its tactics had changed significantly from when I started, and I was starting to questions whether or not it was the right career for me. Would I enjoy spending my days doing those tasks and projects for the next 10, 20, 40 years?
So, I took a break. And it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.
It gave me time to think.
Taking a year off work gave me the necessary time to think about my career choice and tasks that make it up. I had the time to think about whether or not I liked them enough to spend each and every day for the foreseeable future carrying them out. I didn’t have time to do this while I was working, so it was beautiful to have days, weeks and months to sit back and think (or not) about what I wanted my future to look like.
It gave me a real break, and not just a vacation.
Taking a year off work also gave me the oh-so-needed break that I hadn’t had in the past 2.5 years. I will admit, those first few weeks away from work were trying: I worried about the projects and tasks I left behind, and my desire to check-in was strong. But, eventually that passed and I was able to completely relax, to take pleasure in a day spent reading a book or exploring a new neighbourhood. I was able to find my calm. This would never have happened if I’d only taken a vacation from work; I wouldn’t have had the time to truly distance myself, which is exactly what I needed last year.
It gave me the time to realise that I really do like what I do.
Most importantly, taking a year off work helped me realise that I actually really like what I do. After about six months away, I started to miss it, which I took as a very good sign. Had I not taken the time to recharge and reenergize I might never have had the chance to come to that realisation, which might have sent me on a long and quite expensive journey to find a new career.
For many, the idea of taking a year off in my early/mid career was a risk, but for me, it was absolutely necessary. I was tired, burning out and growing dissatisfied. Had I not pressed pause, I might never have rediscovered my joy or passion for my career. And, that’s a risk I’m glad I never had to take.
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