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5 Reasons a Break in Momentum Might Be Just What You Need

5 Reasons a Break in Momentum Might Be Just What You Need

It is simple to get caught up in a cycle. Where passion is a blur, direction one dimensional, purpose becomes questionable and there are no answers. While the mind pushes forward to achieve and achieve, your body is exhausted from going and going a hundred miles per hour no breaks in between.

If neither a quick escapade nor a long holiday brings you the peace of mind that you seek, what you may really need is a sabbatical or a much needed career break.

As you ponder your options, there may be a million different reasons – money, status, fear of uncertainty – for you to hesitate making a conscious decision to break your momentum in life for a few months if not longer. Once you figure out the mechanics like where to live, how to manage your financial commitments and what the career impacts are, here are 5 great reasons a career break can be life changing:

1. You are constantly challenged to think out of the box

Whether you choose to break the routine by travelling, volunteering or starting your own venture, having no stable income to depend on might seem daunting at first but trust that you will find yourself constantly challenged to think of creative ways of generating cash flow.

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From freelancing the skills you possess to sharpening your potential in different areas, you will pleasantly discover that somehow there will be some way in which you can contribute to the world. And perhaps you will wonder why you never thought of doing it in the past.

Your situation will also put you in a better position to think out of the box when it comes to opinions and perceptions. While there are people who will be extremely supportive of the decision you have made there will also be people who will not quite understand your need to get away. In their eyes you will be a sloth.

You will learn that it is not necessary for anyone apart from yourself to understand your situation and what you would like to achieve out of the different stages of life. Life does not need to involve constantly ticking off check boxes. The sooner you realize this, the more you will be able to focus on things that matter to you rather than anyone else.

2. You Start to Discover The Real You

How many times at the dinner table or at a party have you started a conversation and one of the first few questions that you have had to answer is what line of work you are in? Have you ever gotten to know yourself as a person without the attachment of a job? What do you like to do? Who are you? If you weren’t just the analyst or the lawyer or the reporter or the entrepreneur, who are you?

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The time that comes with a break will allow you that introspection. You will do, see and experience parts of the world and moments that will reintroduce you to yourself and you will find new respect for some of the traits that you already have. You might even start questioning if your current life has got you climbing up the wrong ladder too quickly.

Reevaluating your current lifestyle choices will be common and frequent, from the places and food you choose to eat, the activities you usually engage in and the clothes you usually wear. If not for the lack of income, perhaps simply from the big change in your own lifestyle. A new pair of shoes may not seem as exciting anymore and suddenly DIY missions may not sound like the worst thing you have ever heard of and for the first time ever, you might actually have the time for it.

3. You Discover New Passions and Rediscover Old Hobbies

In your state of exploration, you may find yourself volunteering more than committing to paid work during your career break. Surprisingly, the contentment that comes from volunteering can be more overwhelming when it is a cause that you truly believe in and stand for.

Volunteering is a great way to immerse yourself in a diversified role that you might not have the opportunity to experience otherwise and maybe even discover that it was your true calling from the beginning. While you may think that volunteering involves nothing more than completing simple tasks, there is so much untapped potential about yourself that you can discover.

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Most volunteer establishments will also happily provide a reference for future career prospects and along with it, a new passion you never really knew you had.

Naturally, falling back on old hobbies that you might have lost grasp of way back when you were in university or before a real job took over will be common because suddenly you will have time again. Be it writing, reading, dancing, eating, indulgence will come without guilt. This will allow you to reexamine the choices you made for yourself and decide if you are happily on the right track with your current choices. And if that is not the case, you can choose to embrace change.

4. You will Meet People from Different Walks of Life

Traveling, volunteering, and simply spending time away from your usual routine will bring many different people into your life. Some you may meet for a couple of minutes others may leave a bigger impact. Each one may end up teaching you a thing or two about yourself or life itself. They may not. Either way, these strangers will bring a refreshing change to your usual scenery. And if you do not find an inspiring soul among any of them, you need not worry about the attachment because no one will stay unless you let them.

5. You will Learn New Skills

Unless you spend your days and nights locked up in a room watching Netflix, you are sure to pick up a couple of new skills. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn a new language, become a yoga teacher or you have just wanted to be independent in general? Picking up new skills may even be the theme of the year.

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At the very least, you will learn lots of life skills that your job might not have been able to teach you. Both a sense of adventure and the ability to tackle uncertainty by being present are skills that only time and experience can teach you. Let the forces of nature be your teacher.

At the heart of it all, in today’s fast paced world, everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere but sometimes all you need is to slow it down in order to find out where you truly belong.

More by this author

Dimi Jani

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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