What is A Career Break And Why Should You Care?

You know the drill. You’re supposed to work your entire life so that you can stash away enough money to retire and FINALLY enjoy your life and do all of the things you’ve been putting off.



what is a career break?

I’m sorry but If you’ve worked for any length of time than you know that working like a dog until you are 65 is just not sustainable.

Sooner or later you will either get burnt out or bored with the monotony of spending all your days working and taking care of responsibilities.

What’s The Point?

Life was meant to be lived.

Not just on the weekends.

Not for two weeks out of the year to go on your annual vacation.

And not only after your 65th birthday.

Besides, who’s to say you won’t get hit by a car and die tomorrow?  It happened to my father the year before he turned 65.

What if you are physically incapable of doing the things you want to do when you are 65 and older. I have a family member who is incapable of travelling now that she’s older.

That’s where a career break comes in.

So what is a career break?

A career break is an extended period of time where you STOP working to do something new and exciting.  A career break gives you the time you need to recharge your batteries so that when you do go back to work and your normal routine, you are refreshed, enriched and hopefully you have a better perspective and outlook on life.

Think of it as a detour on the road of life where you stop the car and take alternate paths to your final destination but also enjoying all there is to see and do on your way there.

The term career break is closely related to the following terms but there ARE slight differences.

  • Gap year
  • Sabbatical
  • Mini Retirement
  • Adult Gap Year
  • Leave of absence

I will explain the differences in future posts.

How Long Is A Career Break

Depending on who you talk to, some say a career break is between one month and two even three years long.  The time you take off will depend on a lot of different factors and your unique situation.

Some things that will determine the time of your career break are your financial situation, your goals, whether you have a family, kids etc.

What Can You Do On A Career Break

Career breaks are not just about taking time off for the sake of it. Typically a career break can be life changing if used as a personal development tool.

Some things you can do on a career break are..

  • Travel (live abroad)
  • Volunteer, Volunteer abroad
  • Learn (language, ski or sailing instructor, for example)
  • TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language)
  • Raise kids
  • Start a business
  • Train for a marathon,
  • Learn a new hobby (painting, pottery, sewing)
  • Staying up-to-date with professional skills
  • Go back to school (get an advanced degree)
  • Recover from an accident or illness.
  • Look after a dependent
  • Take time off to spend more quality time with your family.
  • Write a novel
  • Yada Yada Yada

The downside to Career Breaks

Unfortunately, in order to enjoy a career break, you will most likely have to quit your job and find a new one when you return to the work force. What that means is that you will have to save enough money to sustain your life for the duration of your break, plus have enough to do the activity that you want to do and support yourself during the time when you look for a new job. ( unless you’ve negotiated with your employer to hold your job for you when you return).

How To Take A Career Break?

Every year hundreds of thousands of people around the world take career breaks.

With a little planning you can take one too.  If you need help planning one or just don’t know where to start, I can work one on one with you and help you get you started.

Below is a video which talks about the “Power of time off”. You should watch it!!

Interested in taking a career break to do something more meaningful but not sure where to start. I can help you work through all your issues. I’ve taken several breaks over the last 20 years to do various thing. There’s a lot to consider from finances and kids, to how long, what to do or where to go. I can help you get some clarity so that you maximize your time away from life and returned, recharged, enriched and happy.


Wow, I couldn’t agree more. Saving all your time and money to do what you want when you retire is just bad planning. Like you said, what if you are incapable of doing what you want by then or die just before you reach that age? That’s why I choose to do as much as I can now before then.

I knew someone who said that they wouldn’t travel until they reached retirement age. For him that means decades of working to just enjoy the last few remaining years of his life. Hardly seems worth it. And with the retirement age going up and the difficulty of saving money for it, I wouldn’t count on it.

I’m not in a place to watch videos right now, but I think that Ted talk is about the guy who takes a sabbatical every seven years. Now that is the right approach.
Steve recently posted..Are You Short-Changing Your Value?My Profile

    Annie Andre

    I think a lot of people think that way Steve and although it is ok to want a secure future, we need to live more in the moment. Security is a falsity that we can try to plan for but it’s not guaranteed..


Hi Annie,

I appreciate your article. An acquaintance’s daugther, who is 15, began homeschooling this year, using an alternative learning path that focuses on self-directed learning and apprenticeships/internships. I am realizizng that this first year could be referred to as a gap year. It is taking her some time to learn to direct herself and “de-school” so to speak, and she is just now hitting her stride. I think the “gap year” term would be a good way to look at the transition time. Thanks for forwarding this idea.

meredith recently posted..There’s No Such Thing As Self ImprovementMy Profile

Dipra Sen

Hi Annie,

I’m surprised that there are so called career breaks. I’m from India and there are no such options to employers except the higher study option. I’m feeling lucky that I’m an entrepreneur and not bound by the strict rules by office. I’ve a plan to travel the world in motorcycle at mid 30 to mid 40.

Dipra Sen recently posted..How to Get First JobMy Profile

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