CAREER / 18 January 2019
7 Tips for Preparing for a One-year Break in Your Career
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Alex Lawson

For many working professionals, the daily grind of office life can make the idea of quitting—even for a year—very appealing. There are quite a few people who take a year off after they leave college, but what about those that didn’t? Is it possible to take that year now? In the middle of your career?

The short answer is yes, but it may be a bit trickier to arrange than it would have when you were fresh out of college. Here are 7 tips for preparing to take a year off from your career. 

1. Examine Your Motives

If you’re wanting to take a sabbatical because you’re struggling in an unhealthy work environment, you might want to re-think your reasons for taking a year off. Returning to the same environment in a year is going to leave you right back where you are now. If you are taking the year off for personal betterment, or to spend quality time with your family, it may be just what you need, and the time away may leave you feeling energized and renewed when you return to work.

2. Have a Goal

Don’t just take the time off to take it off. Once you’ve decided what your motive is, you need to decide what you expect to find at the end of the year, and then envision how you plan to make it happen. Are you going to learn a new language? Take up meditation to learn how to de-stress? Maybe you’re needing to take a year off to care for a loved one, or to accompany a loved one on a journey of their own. It’s important to know what you are planning to do with this year so that you don’t feel like you wasted your time at the end of it.

3. Make Sure Your Family is On-board

If you’re single and care-free, this isn’t such a big deal. But if you have a spouse or family that depends on you, you can’t just make a decision that will likely impact them without consulting with them first. Good communication and a strong plan can help you explain your desire and garner support from those around you. Just don’t spring it on them and expect them to agree without the proper consultation.

4. Get Your Finances in Order

Not only do you have to figure out how you’re going to afford to live for the next year, but you also need to think about having a few months’ worths of money set aside for when you return. It might be more difficult than you think to ease back into the job market. Unless you know that your job will be waiting for you when you return, you need to be prepared to handle your living expenses while you hunt for new work.

5. Make a Plan

If you ’ve determined your goal for what you want to accomplish with your time off, you should start to figure out how you’re planning to make that happen. Research any classes you might be interested in taking, find out where the best places to stay will be if you’re planning to travel and figure out what you will need in order to start putting your plan into action.

6. Talk to Your Boss

If you are lucky enough to work for a company that allows this type of leave, find out what you need to do in order to meet any requirements for leave requests. Explain what you want to do, why you feel the need to take the time, and that you plan to return to work at the end of your leave. If your employer doesn’t offer leave, it may be a bit more difficult to get your boss on board. There’s a possibility that taking the year off may burn a bridge, and you need to be aware of what that may mean for your future prospects.

7. Have a Re-Entry Plan

In addition to planning your time off, you need to plan what you’re going to need to do in order to transition back into the workplace when you’ve returned. If your company has been supportive, this may be easy. If however, you left an employer and now have a significant gap on your resume, you may end up heading back into entry-level work or a lower salary if you’re starting over someplace new. Be prepared to handle these challenges when you return. When you do return to work, you might want to consider brushing up your skills. You can easily join ProSky to help you develop the skills you need to get back to work.  

Taking a break from your career is not a small decision to make but can be a positive experience for many. If you’ve decided that you’re going to go through with it, good preparation can help you make the best use of your time off.

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Alex Lawson is a Financial Team Leader and a blogger, working together with other experts at Brighter Finance. Whenever not working on another project or helping customers with their financial issues, Alex may usually be found online, reading money-related blogs and sharing his tips with other experts.