What is A Career Break And Why You Need One?

what is a career break?

You’re supposed to get an education, work your fingers to the bone, buy a house, raise a family and pay off your student loans all while trying to stash away money like a squirrel for the day you turn 65, retire and FINALLY enjoy your life and do all of the things you’ve been putting off or did not have time to do because you were to busy doing what you were supposed to do! Ooof!


Well, kind of right but mostly wrong!

What’s the point of waiting?

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 get burnt out or bored with the monotony of living your life just doing what society has taught you to do.

I’m not saying to completely abandon your values and throw good sense to the wind but life was meant to be lived as you are living it not when you turn 65 and not just once a year for your annual two-week vacation.

Who’s to say you won’t get hit by a car and die tomorrow never having done anything worth while except work on your career?  It happened to my father the year before he turned 65.

What if you get in an accident or your health deteriorates and become physically incapable of doing the things you want to do when you reach the age of 65 and older?

That’s where a career break comes in sometimes people call it a sabbatical

So what is a career break?

A career break is an extended period of time where you STOP working to do something worthwhile, new, different, exciting or whatever you want to call it.  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 with a better perspective and outlook on life.

Think of a career break as a detour on the road of life where you stop the car and take alternate more scenic route to your destination while enjoying the sights along the way.

The term career break is closely related to the following terms with slight differences but for the most part can be used interchangeable. 

  • Gap year
  • Adult Gap Year
  • Sabbatical
  • Family gap year or family sabbatical
  • Mini Retirement
  • Leave of absence

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 (That is how we ended up in France)
  • 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)
  • Training or education to 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
  • 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.

15 ways to save money for your career break or sabbatical

Here is my journey taking career breaks and sabbaticals

Our story of taking a sabbatical to live in France for a year

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

About the Author

Annie André Is a half Thai, half French Canadian/American freelance writer, digital marketer and author of THE LIVE IN FRANCE GUIDE: an expat travel and lifestyle blog featuring destination guides, inspiration, travel tips, personal advice and anecdotes on working, living and playing in France. ( Equal parts weird, wacky and wonderful).

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