‘Breaking free’: In your mid 30s as a manager in New York or Munich, just why you should consider a mid-career break?
Many of us grow up believing that, If you’re not moving forward you’re falling behind…and breaks are reserved for after high-school times only. When at a senior position, like a manager in a good location, or someone who has worked hard to reach the mid-management level, the idea of a mid-career break does seem shocking. The trend of taking a mid-career break has caught on over the years and become more and more “acceptable” off late. U.K. media reports more than half of their career-gappers were in their mid-30s or older in 2013, compared to only 8% in 2012. However, another survey from the London Business School reveals that 70% of women feel anxious about taking a career break. As stereotypical ‘bread winners’ men also face the same anxiety.
And having said that, it is a fact that after a few years of being in the grind of working life life does become increasingly monotonous. The learning curve, which had started on a pace of rapid growth begins to gradually stagnate – and the daily repetitive rut of waking up in the morning, going to work, and returning home in the evening often makes you long for a “lifestyle shift” of sorts.
Whether you want to go back to studying, learn a language, volunteer, freelance, start a business, travel, or write a book – an interim period of “stepping off from the treadmill” helps you reassess your priorities on the path that you would like to take. Moreover, it helps “recharge your batteries,” creating a fresh appetite for work and life, and reinvigorates the mind with a sense of “novelty” – a pause so required for gaining perspective on where your career is headed, and reflect on the transition you want to make in the next phase.
Although, to take care of anxiety associated with a mid-career break, quitting without a plan is surely not a great idea. Rita Foley and Jaye Smith, co-authors of “Reboot Your Life: Energize Your Career and Life by Taking a Break” offer some valuable advice if you’re planning an extended break from work.
Here are the top 10 ways to reduce anxiety when thinking of a mid-career break
1. Plan ahead: Map out what you want to do with your time off. Start by listing interests or visualizing what you would be doing if you were to wake up tomorrow truly happy.
2. Don’t skimp: Take at least three months off if you can.
3. Save up: To pay for your break, automatically deduct money from your paycheck. Save raises, bonuses, tax refunds, stock options, and inheritances.
4. Cut costs: Consider renting or swapping your home. Investigate opportunities, such as fellowships, that generate income.
5. Set expectations: Let friends and family in on your plan, but don’t take on obligations that may derail your plans.
6. Find a support network: Organizations including the Transition Network, Project Renewment, and Coming of Age may help motivate and inspire you.
7. Craft an elevator speech: Make up a title for yourself or simply say, “You cannot imagine all the things I am involved in.”
8. Get away from your routine: Hike, travel, and try new things.
9. Make time for relaxation and reflection: Keep a journal, go for long walks.
10. Don’t forget the lessons you learned: After taking a new job, deliberately schedule time for the things that are important to you.
You could look at working overseas, if even for a short while – something that could boost your career immensely.
We give you, dear manager in New York, 5 top reasons you could seriously gain through your mid-career break:
1. Expand your skill-set: Working abroad provides you with an international perspective, not only broadening your horizons but also offering a unique understanding of skill-sets required in a global economy. It also helps you adapt to diverse workplaces.
2. Financial implications: Many people choose to work abroad because the pay is lucrative, especially if the cost of living is lower. Make sure that the price of relocating and other important variables too are equally cost-effective.
3. Cultural immersion: Immersing yourself in the local customs, traditions, and ways of life is the best way to really “feel” and become a part of the place you are moving to. This will not only enrich your cultural awareness but will also make your life easier while there.
4. Fast-track career move: International exposure goes a long way in accelerating one’s prospects for a promotion or lead to enhanced reward packages. This is mostly because you tend to be faced with a whole host of challenges and opportunities in a shorter space of time.
5. Changing your mind: You might realize after a few months that this is really not something for you, in which case you could start figuring out options about what to do once you return. The time you spent, however, will not go in waste – The experience you gained would certainly help you find a good role in your home country.
If you’re still not convinced about a mid-career gap, ask yourself this: Are your risks of being dislodged outweighed by the benefits that a sustained period of novelty might bring? If your answer is no, then you know what to do!