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Why You Should Take a “Gap” Year as an Adult

Why You Should Take a “Gap” Year as an Adult

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Vivienne Egan Vivienne writes for FHR, who provide Heathrow Airport parking.

Many of us associate the term ‘gap year’ as an activity exclusively for teenagers. Typically the year after school or college and before entering university, people will head off for a year in some exotic antipodean location, sometimes taking a job and generally “seeing a bit of the world” along the way.

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But are your late teens really the best time to see the world? As shown in the above popular YouTube sketch, the gap year has become the domain of the wealthy whose parents can afford to support them as they travel. The clip also highlights the question: is it really at an age where we can appreciate, learn from and respect other cultures?

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These days, a lot more people are taking their ‘gap’ year after university or a few years into their working lives. They are saving up their own money and coming to travels with more life experience and a greater understanding of the world.

Also popular is combining a university exchange programme with travels. Simon, a 25-year old law student from Sydney, Australia took part in a university exchange in Montreal, Canada for six months and then travelled through Europe. “The best part of being an international student was having the opportunity to live in a foreign city for an extended period. Visiting a city for a few days pales in comparison to the experience of actually living there.”

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Being a bit older will also mean extra freedoms – for instance travelling in America before the age of 21 means age restrictions on going to bars, and in many countries to hire a car you need to be over the age of 25. Being a little older and wiser as a traveller will mean that you make more informed decisions and are less likely to get into tight situations.

Chrissy, currently travelling overseas for the first time at 30, has found a few challenges to travelling solo – “I’ve found it difficult to meet people while travelling as I’m not staying in hostels. I’m now planning to meet and stay with friends and friends of friends who can show me to less touristy areas.”

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Beginning to travel is great at any age. Sharon caught the travel bug at the tender age of 56 and hasn’t looked back. She has cruised the Rhine, navigated across Japan on the bullet train and driven across the deserts of Western Australia. “I’ve travelled alone, with friends and in organised groups. I’ve made lots of friends and had amazing experiences that I never imagined I would have.”

Have you been on a gap year? What age were you and would you do it again?

Featured photo credit: Hiker via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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