The long anticipated and seldom actualized career break. How many of us in the work obsessed United States actually take one?
I’m not talking about that measly one week look over your shoulder excuse for a break many of us are accustomed to. I’m not even talking about a two-week hiatus where you start to unwind, only to be tethered to your cell phone and email.
I’m talking about the kind of break where you step away from your job or ego defining career and experience life on your own timetable.
The kind of break where you remember what it’s like to just breathe again, to experience whatever hobbies and passions make you a creative human.
Taking a two hour lunch with no plans for the rest of the day, other than to wander a new city and explore is a good start. You start to feel refreshed, and filled with that childlike energy and sparkling eyes which you thought were a long forgotten thing of the past.
You start the day naturally rising out of bed when you’re ready, eager to let the day’s adventures unfold, now that’s a career break!
Time for a disclaimer, since this post will likely offend.
A large majority of people value ongoing stability and are very risk averse. Many people inherit the logic of their peer group, family and societal conditioning. For those, please forget you saw this post. In the past I’ve seen others labeled as deluded, selfish and unrealistic in wanting to experience a fuller, more exotic life. Fair enough, to each their own.
Recently, I went to a local event in Orlando, FL. for the website Meet Plan Go , founded by Sherry Ott. The purpose of the event was to hear the experiences of a panel of interesting people who found ways to take an extended career break and travel extensively.
To some that meant using their existing location independent skills, like SEO or web design for a work/travel arrangement, or others selling their home, cashing in on retirement and traveling the world with their three teenagers.
There are always excuses like….
“I don’t have any money saved.”
“But I have kids.”
“How can I get another job upon return.”
While these are valid concerns, there are always alternative ways to make it happen!
Check out Meet Plan Go, their site gives some good tips for the various planning stages necessary and connecting with others who have conquered the same questions, it’s inspiring.
Considering the value of personal time is not as high in the U.S. , we need to make it happen. Waiting for the elusive days of retirement, may never come to fruition.
I don’t know about you, but for me a one week or two week vacation is far from sufficient. I refuse to accept those who are being “realists” and resign to the idea of working until death with a short break here and there.
In fact, many countries in the world provide an extensive amount of time off, *for example:
Austria has a statutory mimimum of 25 days for vacation and 13 days off for public holidays.
Brazil has a statutory minimum of 30 days for vacation and 11 days for public holidays.
France has a statutory minimum of 30 days for vacation and 10 days of public days off.
The point being, many of us live the deferred life plan (to quote Tim Ferris), waiting diligently for that elusive “someday” to travel and do the things you really want.
And let me tell you Jack, someday may never come.
It was inspiring being around other like minded people and hearing their stories, challenges and how with careful planning they just “made it happen.”
It seems to me, the only way to truly take a decent break is to carefully plan and quit your job, or to build skills that transfer to the online world, providing a hybrid work/travel situation. While I understand many people have 2 cars, a mortgage and kids, with dilligent planning a several month break is possible. For example, checkout this couple who travel around to 20 plus countries with their 5 years old at Soultravelers3.com.
I feel pity when overhearing people talk about never missing a day of work in x amount of years. Your life is ticking by while you pledge your allegiance to an employer who can terminate you at any given moment.
Too many bills? Have a high mortgage?
Ask yourself every day if this is really the life you want, and if all the material items requiring work to maintain are really necessary for your happiness. It’s a good exercise and practice to get into.
These have been difficult questions for me personally, but the more I downshift possessions and increase travel time, the happier I become.
On your deathbed, would you rather recall your perfect attendance record, or reminisce on the fantastic adventures you had?