Technology has made our lives easier. Automated machines, Intelligent software and widespread network access, has reduced the time and effort required to get things done. It has helped us in creating a high-precision, first-paced world. The advent of social media has accelerated this growth further. We can now connect to anyone from any part of the world and transmit any information in a matter of seconds. Access to such accurate and fast nformation has not only also reduced the distance between us but also our patience.
We want more and we want it now. Our drive for overachievement has pushed us to pursue expensive in-demand education programs in order to bag high-paying competitive jobs. We have moved ahead so much to attain status and power, that we have left our mental health behind.
Anxiety and depression are now fairly common among young employees who want to “get through” the work week and escape to their fantasy worlds on the weekends. As we enter into the post-COVID world, where uncertainty has become our constant companion, mental health is finally getting the recognition that it was denied for so long. People are understanding the effects of poor job fit and bad work culture on their self-development.
But taking time off, for health reasons or otherwise, is easier said than done. Mental health leaves are yet to become a norm, and an unexplained career gap is still frowned upon in our risk-averse country. An unfavourable workforce-to-job availability ratio and volatility of the markets have crushed the confidence of employees who feel that they can be easily replaced if they do not function at their best 100% of the time.
But this is far from the truth. The CEO of Twitter, Parag Agarwal’s resume is full of career gaps of 8-12 months between jobs. Further, research has always revealed a very low correlation between the number of years worked and job performance.
A large-scale study conducted by LinkedIn revealed that more than 50% of employees have taken a break from their professional careers
Here are a few points that can serve as a guide for making the most out of your career break.
- Plan before taking the plunge: Before taking a break from your job, make sure you have your finances in check. Having an action plan is very important to productively use and enjoy your career break without hurting your basic needs. Establish alternate sources of income and discuss with your dear ones openly about your decision. You are not alone in this journey and having a strong support system can be your biggest strength during this time.
- Focus on your feelings: If you are considering leaving your job or taking a break, the first step is to understand “why”. Why do you want to take a break? Is it the wrong job for you? Is the organization and its culture toxic? Or some other aspect of your personal life that requires your priority right now?
The first step is to find out exactly what feelings have been pushing you to the edge and the reason behind them. Only when you solve the underlying problem, can you move on to build your dream life.
- Explore: While it is important to address the problem at hand, it is equally important to develop an honest understanding of yourself and your surroundings, to prevent the unpleasant feelings from winning over you again. Self-exploration is a great way to utilize your time off. Go out of your comfort zone and indulge in experiences that you have denied yourself. Read books and expand your mindset to new ways of viewing life. Travel and meet new people to find fresh and different perspectives. Rediscover and reinvent yourself into a better version that is strong enough to tackle the realities of the world.
- Pursue passions: Self-discovery is a great tool to unravel your suppressed passions and values. While jobs are necessary to get an income, our careers are more about how we earn rather than how much we earn. We spend around 40 years of our life working and it is not possible to pursue any career that you are not passionate about for such a long time without negative repercussions.
- Upskill and Build your Brand: A career break can be a source of anxiety for many due to a lack of professional productivity. In order to relieve your anxiety and to make sure you can hop into the job market as soon as you are ready, it is wise to take up relevant skill training or academic courses. Upskilling will help you keep up with or even go beyond the current market knowledge, trends and techniques being used in your field of expertise. Further, it will open new opportunities for you to find a job that you actually enjoy doing. Lastly, use social media platforms to create your own personal brand. Share relevant posts with insightful captions so that you can appeal the right audience and market yourself as an attractive candidate to the recruiters
- Self-development: A break is a great way to reset your present lifestyle. A healthy body is required to contain a healthy mind. So, take up new constructive habits like working out, meditating, journaling and minimising destructive ones like binging, scrolling and substance abuse.
- Networking: Utilize this free time to network with people across the world working in relevant profiles to gain helpful insights. Forming strong connections will help you reach the right opportunities and get back into the game quite easily.
- Build self-confidence and trust: Lastly, it is essential for you to develop confidence in your purpose and have faith in your capabilities.
Own your story and don’t be afraid to share it with the world. Self-awareness brings clarity in an otherwise chaotic world.
Remember that nothing lasts forever and this too shall pass. You have attained successes before and you can do it again. Prioritise quality over quantity and purpose over pay-out. In the long run, what really matters is what difference you have made in this world and not how much.
Wish you all the best if you do decide to take a break from your career and hope you get what you are looking for.
- Nabanita De Foundation. (2022, March 2). How To Take A Successful Career Break. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeseq/2021/07/13/how-to-take-a-successful-career-break/?sh=5a2e82b42e18
- Quińones, M., Ford, J. And Teachout, M., 1995. The Relationship Between Work Experience and Job Performance: A Conceptual and Meta-Analytic Review. Personnel Psychology, 48(4), Pp.887-910.
- Shapeley, J. (2022, March 1). LinkedIn Members Can Now Spotlight Career Breaks on Their Profiles. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/product-tips/linkedin-members-spotlight-career-breaks-on-profiles
- Singh, N. (2021, December 27). Why a career break is no more a blot on your CV. The Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/why-a-career-break-is-no-more-a-blot-on-your-cv/articleshow/88527002.cms
About the author:
Debolina Dasgupata is an I/O Psychologist with a special interest in psychometric testing and human-technology interaction, presently a PhD scholar enrolled with the University of Calcutta. She has also qualified for the UGC-NET JRF this year. In addition, she is associated with India’s leading multi-award winning Virtual reality company, Simulanis as a consultant corporate psychologist.