Did you miss out on having a gap year when you were 18 because you went straight from school to university or finished your exams and bagged yourself a job?
You might well have been happy with your decision at the time but now, years later, when you see images across social media of travellers diving in the Great Barrier Reef with brightly coloured fish and vibrant coral, intrepid explorers volunteering with elephants in Thailand or adventurers posing next to a famous landmarks as they explore the wonders of the world.
Seeing all that might make you wish that, instead of being chained to your desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, you too could be exploring the world. You might often daydream of feeling the warm sand between your toes, as the palm trees blow softly in the wind overhead and the turquoise sea crashes against the shore. Of having once in a lifetime experiences and seeing what the world has to offer outside of your hometown.
You are never too old for a gap year
But, you are too old and it is too late now, right? Wrong!
You are never too old and it is definitely never too late for a gap year – or a mid-career break.
At one time you wouldn’t have dreamed of taking a sabbatical from your career. If you hadn’t taken a gap year between education or before you got your foot on the first rung of the career ladder, you had missed your chance. Once you were on that ladder you needed to start climbing and to get off it would, potentially, mean going right back down rather than up and as for changing jobs, that was unheard of.
Today, however, job-hopping is expected. In fact a survey showed that 45% of employees only plan to stay with their employer for two years or less because moving regularly enables them to earn a higher salary, grow their career, change locations and find a better cultural fit. This makes having a career break easier than ever before and is one of the reasons that more people are doing it.
The number of people taking lengthy sabbaticals later in life is also increasing as companies become more and more open to the idea – with some even offering the opportunity as a perk.
In a Ted Talk, designer Stefan Sagmeister discusses why every seven years he closes his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical to rejuvenate and refresh their creative outlook. He explained the overlooked value of time off, and showed his innovative projects inspired by spending time in Bali.
So, now you know you can do it, why should you do it?
A gap year, while allowing you to see the world and have once in a lifetime experiences, is ultimately a chance to recharge your batteries. While, of course, you will be able to switch off from the day-to-day tasks that come with full time work, it is also an opportunity to discover what you really love. Perhaps you have become stuck in a dead end job you can’t see any way out of or maybe you are in a career you love, but have lost all motivation for. A year away will help you to reassess what you want when you return. Perhaps your employer will keep your job open and, if you want that, great.
Worried about explaining the year off on your CV?
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing – it can actually show companies that you want to further your skillset and try new experiences. You could even use this time to take part in a volunteer project – which will only add to your CV.
What about your home and belongings?
Of course, later life brings more commitments than just your career – you are likely to have a home that it full of belongings. You can’t just leave this for a year can you?
Well, actually, yes – you can!
If you own your home you could rent this out so it doesn’t sit empty and your mortgage will continue to be paid while you are away – bonus! First you need an idea of what you are going to pack in your suitcase, then move anything priceless or valuable into a storage unit to keep it safe and secure. Finally, if you have items that you are happy to leave in the house, do – you can rent it out furnished.
If you rent – hand in your notice, move all your belongings into one of our storage units and when you come back you have the freedom to go wherever your next career move takes you without the need to start all over again from scratch.
Now, you just need to decide where you are going to go because the world is your oyster!