Work hard, play hard.
You often hear this amongst the Millennials nowadays.
They hold YOLO, you only live once, close to their hearts. Hence, they find it necessary to make time to improve their individual wellbeing in the midst of striving towards their goals.
Why are career breaks necessary?
In comparison to the other generations, who typically focus on achieving retirement as early as possible, I believe in working and are taking breaks. Career is like a marathon.
You know the NTUC Income advertisement on sandwich generation? The greatest pressure to afford for children as well as to take care of aging parents. With the average life span increasing over the years, at about 83 years old as of 2017, this is a long term responsibility.
And since it is so, taking breaks can boost wellbeing and mental health.
Most reports suggest that such breaks will certainly bring new perspective, enthusiasm and vigor into the workplace. By experiencing different cultures, people who travel at various points in their careers bring a diverse and new perspective. Something that I aim to do.
Bill Gates is one of the most successful and richest people in the world. And he takes breaks too!
During his 'Think Week' break which happens twice a year, he would come up with the best ideas for his business. It is based on the concept of needing a break from the monotony while being able to concentrate and fully focus on the goal.
Personal thoughts on career breaks?
Career breaks aren't as common in Singapore as in the European countries.
As a highly traditional country, many would see you in a different eye if one were to take a break as they perceive it as a waste of your youth/time.
However, I do not think so. My friend took 2 gap years before university to pursue something she really enjoyed. Eventually, she became a successful entrepreneur owning two shops which she held close to her heart at the age of 22.
I thought it was a rather bold move as she is sacrificing the time she could actually spend in university to clear it and get into the workforce on par with her batchmates.
The biggest lesson I learnt from her is to pursue your own passion without any fear of judgements.
I am also contemplating between a break of a year right after university. I thought before I actually focus on building up my career, I needed a break from studying all these years.
I also happened to chance upon Tawn’s blog and youtube and I thought that I really resonated with her views.
Many may not follow their intuitions but what might come if we were to pursue this intuition can be life changing. Taking Tawn for instance, her taking a gap year allowed her to spend time with her loved ones especially her dad before his passing.
I put my family as priority. Seeing my parents grow old makes me worried and fearful of the day I will have to lose them. Hence, before I kick off my career, I thought it would be nice to spend more time with my family and create many beautiful memories together.
What you should plan before the break!
Before leaving your work for your well deserved break, you may want to make arrangements and plans so that your team will not be lost when you are away. This is also to do yourself a favour to reduce phone calls about work when you are away!
Especially if you are of a higher position in the team, this is a very necessary step to ensure that your team is still efficient!
Not to forget, even before you can take a break, you need to be financially independent as you might not be having any income then. In addition, daily expenses can only be tapped on your savings.
Financial planning is important. Have your own goals and work hard towards it. Think of how your break will affect your ultimate goal which is your retirement savings.
If you are taking the break for travel, remember to get your travel insurance to protect yourself from incurring heavy cash outs!
Sgbudgetbabe had a sharing on taking career breaks!
Many want to take a break to travel. But the second most common reason is to take care of family. To read more, follow sgbudgetbabe post.
I totally agree with what they have to say about how there's no way one will be able to save enough for healthcare especially if he/she is hit by unexpected critical illnesses.
Therefore, the best bet against that is to get a proper insurance portfolio.
Transiting back to the workforce
The biggest fear now is will there be stigmatization or resentment from the previous or new employer?
How am I going to explain it to my future employer?
However, I've a friend hired in a tech firm after taking a gap year. And another getting quite a good position with her new firm.
Perhaps there isn't such a stigma after all. And perhaps, focus on justifying well on the gap year like some key learning points.
- Maintain your network of contacts
As much as you need time away from work related things, maintaining good relationships are important. Keeping in touch with former colleagues and business partners could help you to stay informed on the latest updates in your industry.
Maintain contact with workmates who could potentially link you to useful business contact in future.
- Keep abreast of industry trends
Attend seminars, workshops or even pursue short courses to upgrade your skills.
This will be useful during your interviews with future employers when you explain the gaps in your resume by showing that you still kept yourself updated with the latest trends.
Breaks are necessary to prevent yourself from burning out.
I truly believe that taking breaks improves our mindfulness and harmonises our brains and souls. This is essential no matter which stage of life you are at.
And always, plan your finances correctly too and make it happen.
PS: Do check video below on what I wish I knew when I was in my 20s!