The Power Of Time-off
“Housewife” – The word pierced my heart as if somebody had stabbed me. Though there are better words such as Homemaker, Working 24/7, etc., the tag of non-working woman still stung as I finally took the decision to take a break from my 8-year long career and take care of my new-born daughter.
Being a health-conscious person I had always made it a point to include a 15-20 minutes workout routine before leaving for office and now that I was suddenly loaded with extra weight, I all the more needed it. So I decided to join a proper Yoga center with good class strength. After the class, I happened to have a chat with one of the students. She had behind her a career of 12 years with Air Traffic Control but had to take a break as her children required more of her time as they were growing. While one used to work as Manager with a reputed hotel but had now moved to the role of lecturer at a nearby college, there was another one who had worked for 10 years and was now enjoying life by just being at home because she wanted this break to recharge her batteries.
These examples and numerous others that I eventually went though over the internet, have not only helped me come out of the guilt of being at home but also motivated me to cash on this opportunity by exploring things I had only dreamt of.
I am sure most women who have to put a break at their career, for whatever reason – marriage, relocation or children, begin with apprehensions like how to make a comeback, how to handle peer pressure and the big question - what to do with all this time? But you’ll be amazed to know how this trend is picking up across the world with most of the people (both males and females) doing this out of personal choice.
We’ve seen people make whole lot of post-retirement plans like climbing the Everest, bike ride trip through the country, pursuing favorite sport, form of art, etc. The question here is how much of this will be feasible at that age. Many of us want to go for higher studies, gain certifications, improve our career prospects, but that career itself comes into the way.
Probably this is the reason why more and more people are going the sabbatical way, the good part being that a lot of corporate houses are offering sabbaticals as a retention tool to their employees, whether paid or otherwise. One reason could be that some of them have started believing the fact that these breaks might lead to expansion in skill set. Not only this, by travelling the world, exploring new cultures, you actually gain immense knowledge and when you make a comeback, you do it with a brand new outlook.
At the same time, there is a fair chance you don’t get back to the same organization or corporate set up at all. Taking a break may provide completely new opportunity that one might have not even thought of. Somebody wants to become an entrepreneur, somebody has passion for poetry, somebody is tickled by teaching and somebody just wants to serve the society. Most of us try to forget our dreams because of adulthood responsibilities but those who dare might in fact achieve what they wanted. Even if it does not take you to your dreams, it may surely leave you with a life time experience and enhanced soft skills like management, communication and problem solving.
As psychiatrist Milton Erickson puts it, “Change will lead to insight far more often than insight will lead to change.”
You just have to believe in your newly achieved skills and promote them at the right place. Perhaps this is why the trend of mid-career breaks is picking up fast, especially for those in their mid-30s. According to a study conducted in 2010, about 90,000 people every year – 60 per cent of them women – take some sort of career break with the individuals being in their late twenties or early thirties. As we move further, UK media reports say more than half of their career-gappers were in their mid-30s or older in 2013, compared to only 8% in 2012, which is good news for the fact that more and more people are realizing that it’s better to pursue dreams at the right time rather than exhausting zeal as well as resources until you realize that you are not in the right zone.
While many people dream of taking time off mid-career, few actually do it. So if you’re planning one, it does not look like a reason to hesitate, even if it is only to replenish yourself. If not anything else, it will surely make somebody jealous and say “I wish I had the guts to do what you are doing”.