I know how easy it is to make up a million and one excuses of why it isn't a good idea to take a career break. I have been there myself, I thought about taking a career break for at least a year before I actually booked my first flight to India. On numerous occasions, I made a list of the reasons why I shouldn't go, as for some reason I was trying to put myself off booking it. I think deep down I was a nervous of handing in my notice and putting myself outside of my comfort zone. One day I realised that I wanted to put myself outside of my comfort zone and travelling the world was worth quitting my job, so I booked the flight to India and it was the best decision of my life.
Here are the most common excuses people make of why they shouldn't take a career break:
1. I can't risk losing my job
This is one of the main reasons why people think they can't go on a career break. However, you have a few options to consider before you write it off. You don't have to lose your job, you can approach your employer and ask for a sabbatical instead. I have another detailed post on keeping your job while taking a career break, which you can read here.
2. I am too old to take a career break or sabbatical
You are never too old to take a career break or try something new. You are as old as you feel and if you are healthy enough to embark on your career break, whatever it is, then go for it. More and more elderly people have itchy feet and are leaving to travel the world and experiencing new cultures. When I was backpacking I met loads of 'older' travellers and some even stayed in the hostels and got involved.
3. I can't afford it
Yes, this can be a stumbling block, but it is one you can overcome. Firstly, you need to be realistic, and give yourself enough time to save. If you know you are not going to be able to save a substantial amount of money, then internships that pay, working abroad or teaching English abroad with TEFL, are ways around this, as you can earn while you are away. If your dream is to travel the world for a long period of time (without working), then if you really want it, you need to make saving your priority. Figure out your budget, determine how much you can save each month and then how long it will take you to save what you need. When you do your numbers, it may take you 4 years of saving and if that is what it takes then you have loads of time to plan and get excited. If you want a detailed post on saving for a career break or sabbatical read it here.
4. It will ruin my career
Not necessarily! Obviously, I can't say this for 100% of jobs, but for the majority I don't think that a career break or sabbatical will ruin your career at all. As long as you do something productive with your time, many employers will respect that you have put yourself outside of your comfort zone and are a well rounded person, with life experience. If you can provide examples of your experiences and how they can be transferred to your job, then this could actually make you stand out when applying for jobs or when returning to your previous role.
5. I have children
Now this can be a valid excuse, depending on their age and your views on schooling. If your children are not at school yet, then this could be the perfect time to pack your bags, as children will adapt. If you don't like the idea of traveling light, then taking a camper van or boat can be your solution. If your children are already at school, then you have the option to home school and then you can go where you like, but you have to be organised to fit in 'school' and exploring. You will need to talk to your children and get their views on your plans.
6. I don't need to do it now..I will do it when I retire
You could travel, volunteer or learn a new skill when you are retired, but that could be a long way off. You don't know what your circumstances will be when you reach retirement age and you can never guarantee good health at that point (without sounding too depressing). Are you going to have enough income to go away, when you are no longer earning? You never know what the future will bring and why put it off, if you are in a position to do it now.
7. I have a house and mortgage
This is not really an excuse, as you have few options. You can either calculate how much you need to cover your mortgage and ensure to include this when saving, or rent out your house. I know it is not a nice idea of someone living in your house, but from a cost point of view, it is well worth doing. When Rob and I went travelling, we let our house out on a furnished basis, so we just have to remove our personal belongings and clothes. This then reduces the amount storage would cost, or if you have a family member or friend with a bit of spare loft space, could could get rid of this expense completely. We actually had a bit of surplus from the rent, after we had covered the mortgage, so we saved this to do a bungee jump in New Zealand. The other option is to sell your house and clear your mortgage or to downsize, yes this is extreme, but is another option, depending on what your plans are.
8. I have a dog
Again, you have a few options of how to deal with your pooch. You may have some friends or family that would look after the dog, or you could put your dog in kennels (make sure to factor in the cost when saving) or if you are going away in a camper van or boat, then take your dog with you and I'm sure they will enjoy the ride.
9. I will lose business contacts and clients
Depending on your business or job, if you are fully honest with your clients and business contacts and they are loyal to you, you would hope they would understand. If you make the transition easy for the client, by putting them in touch with another professional to take over the work (on the basis that you are back in 6 months) then hopefully they will be okay with this.
10. I am too young and I'm not fully qualified
This is similar to feeling too old to take a career break. If you have just finished university then you may be concerned that you should be focusing on your career rather than taking time out to travel, but this could be the right time for you. I think it is harder to leave a job, rather than go before you settle into your career. Or, if you are thinking about travelling after A-Levels, then you could go on a gap year instead, before you go to university.
I have had lots of people say to me "you are so lucky, I wish I could do that". It was not luck, I didn't win the lottery, I saved for years on end and had the guts to leave my job, fly to India and change my life. My point is that if you really want to take a career break, there will be some way of doing it.