“There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing.” – Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay
In our dynamic, career-driven society, time often moves so fast that we find ourselves constantly trying to keep up with it. At first, there’s just one deadline, maybe two. Soon, commitments with friends and family start to merge. You run. Nights turn to days as you stay up late, trying to squeeze in more minutes into what’s already gone.
Still you keep going. Until you quickly realize that although your feet are moving, you are not. It’s as if everything and everyone else exists in a place where you cannot follow. And you’re stuck watching them like a reel of film. Just when time feels like it moved again, you fall. Hard, cold, exhausted.
Do you usually wish that you could get up and leave everything behind? Well, not literally, of course. But a break would definitely be nice. Ever heard of the term sabbatical? How about a career break? A lot of people are familiar with these words and even use them interchangeably – but they’re different from each other. Here’s how they can help you catch the break you deserve (and maybe even help you on the road to a better career).
Sabbatical vs. Career Break: Which One Is Better?
“We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you.” – Eric Roth
According to an article by career break coach, Sue Hadden, a sabbatical is a more formal scheme offered by companies to qualified workers. Examples are Nike and Adobe, big corporations that give employees the option of a sabbatical after they have served a certain number of years. It’s like a benefit, similar to getting pension contributions.
This is a good option for those who want to work in the same company or position after a long break.Advertising
Sabbaticals are typically used for:
- Relaxation from work burn-out
- Learning/honing new skills
- Traveling the world
- Volunteering; or
- General reflecting
If you’ve been feeling stressed out lately and you’re fairly certain that you just need a long break, ask your HR department about sabbaticals. Depending on your company’s policies, it might be partially unpaid or not at all. Check if you qualify for this perk and you might just fulfill that dream getaway sooner than you think.
Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ll have a job to come back to.
A career break on the other hand, is typically what you resort to if your company does NOT have a sabbatical policy. This will involve handing over your resignation. The upside is that you’re not tied to the organization anymore, which means you can take your time and hop on the career train whenever you’re ready!
Career breaks are perfect if you want to:
- Switch to a new career
- Start a business
- Go into freelancing
- Travel the world more extensively
- Get experience for a job you’re not qualified for yet
For some folks, going on sabbatical was the best decisions they ever made. For others, a career break was the more practical approach. Deciding which one suits your needs best would depend on YOU.
Think about why you need a break in the first place. Decide for how long you want to be away from work. Then, weigh the pros and cons of your choice.Advertising
6 Things To Keep In Mind During Your Break
“I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view.” – Eric Roth
Let’s assume that you’ve made up your mind on which break you want to take. You’re all set: finances are in order, friends and family members have your back, and you’re mentally geared to make this the best experience of your life (so far). Here are six things you need to consider before heading out the door:
1. Always keep your resume updated.
During your sabbatical or career break, new opportunities might come knocking. You want to be prepared for anything. So make sure you take a few minutes to update your resume. List new skills you have gained along the way. Write what you learned on a new section called “Life Experiences”. Pick your words wisely. This time you have all the hours you need.
2. Keep yourself healthy.
If you took a sabbatical or career break due to work burnout, don’t just sit on the couch binge-watching on Netflix! That diet you’ve wanted to try is waiting for you. Stop procrastinating and join your buddy for a jog. Meditate. Relieve the stress you’ve accumulated up to this point.
3. Avoid burning bridges.
Even if you resigned for a career break, do NOT burn bridges. Who knows – you might need those people again in the future. Today, there are various ways to stay connected. There’s social media, messaging apps, and the traditional text or call.
4. Create good web presence.
As you hop from one adventure to another, make sure you’re also minding what you post online. Whether it’s a sabbatical or career break, you don’t want employers getting the wrong idea. That time you went hiking in Thailand? Cool. How about that binge-drinking session with old college buddies? Not so cool.
Keeping your personal brand in check while out and about ensures that you’ll have nothing to clean up after all the adrenaline has ebbed.Advertising
5. Reflect a lot.
If you were used to 80-hour workweeks, you might find it hard to relax and do nothing for the first days of your break. Don’t forget to relish these quiet moments with yourself. Pick up a good book and sit by the window. Take long walks alone. Revel in the fact that for once, you’re not racing to catch up with time.
Imagine your future. Think about what makes you happy. Immerse in the moment.
6. Use time wisely.
It can be tempting to do nothing for days. But before you know it, days have turned into weeks, weeks into months. What do you have to show for your sabbatical or career break? What adventures did you take? What did you learn?
It’s amazing to finally have all the time in the world: but once you have it, what do you do with it? Use it wisely. Even if you’re in a two-year sabbatical, you’d be surprised at how fast time flies.
If you took a career break, you might be wondering how it would impact your career. While a lot of employers and hiring managers don’t care for gaps in employment history, you should still be prepared for people who won’t be as understanding.
This is why you should make each second count. Don’t waste your precious time just lounging around (you can always do catch-up marathons on the weekends). The important thing to remember after your sabbatical or career break is that the right job will understand why you wanted the time off.Advertising
For now, don’t sweat about it too much. This is your gift to yourself, remember? – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Sabbatical or Career Break? You Choose
“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” – Eric Roth
Whether you’re taking a break to take care of your family or yourself, you shouldn’t see it as a luxury. We all need time for ourselves. It’s how we assess how far we’ve come, and where to go next. So avoid feeling guilty!
Don’t wait until the last moments to truly LIVE.
Featured photo credit: Adrianna Calvo/Pexels.com via pexels.com
Last Updated on January 14, 2019
The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career
Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.
We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.
You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.
Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?
Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.
1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement
Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.
Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.
You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.
Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.
Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.
2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success
Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers. These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.
Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.
3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them
Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.
How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?
Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.
Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.
Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.
4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You
It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.
With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy, many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.
If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.
Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.
Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.
5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome
Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.
However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.
Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.
If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.
With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.
Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.
6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change
The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.
You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.
A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.
By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:
- Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
- Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
- Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
- Is this aligned with my passion?
- Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?
Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.
7. Be Prepared to Let Go
It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?
Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.
If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.
When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.
Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.
We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.
The Bottom Line
Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.
More Resources to Help Advance Your Career
- How to Create Your Road Map to Success (A Step-By-Step Guide)
- How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
- How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late
- Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress
- Signs You Need a Career Change and How to Change for Success
- Do You Want to Know the Secret to Living a Fulfilling Life?
- How to Have a Successful Career and a Fulfilling Personal Life
Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com