It’s Okay to Take a Career Break

It’s Okay to Take a Career Break

Be it a quarter-life crisis or you're just burnt out, perhaps a break is what you need. Kate Biol gets truthful about hitting pause on her career.

WARNING: Not for the married status, unless you have a rich partner to cover up the bills and support your lifestyle.

What you are about to read is a confession of a person battling anxiety who leads a single lifestyle with savings. Please don’t judge.

I quit my job after working for over three months. Yes, I wasted a good opportunity but I wasn’t a good fit with their culture. I also lost my creative touch which usually comes flowing. I find myself taking the easy and lazy route–which is so not me! #QuietQuitting

I know it was really bad when I find myself waking up out of breath several times, or I get palpitations after waking up. It’s not the coffee but the stress. I was burned out.

After several weeks of contemplation, I decided to take a career break.

What is a career break?

It is an unpaid leave that usually lasts from two to six months. It can also be a time out of your career or employment for personal or professional development. One can refer to it as an “adult gap year.”

Often mistaken as a sabbatical, a career break requires resigning from your current job to focus on rebuilding other aspects of your life, exploring your passion, or starting a new career path. A sabbatical break, on the other hand, is when you are still employed but only taking a few weeks off. Once your sabbatical is over, you can still return to your job. 

Why I took a career break

I’ve been working non-stop and viewed gaps and breaks in between as bad for my resumé. But this time, I bravely took a step forward to take a career break because I badly needed it. This time, I need to prioritize my mental health.

The accumulated time and stress I poured in during the pandemic from working from home, plus the fact I didn’t take significant time off during the transition from my previous job to a new one, led to burnout. Taylor Swift would wake up screaming from dreaming but I would wake up with shortness of breath or sometimes with palpitations. It has been going on for several weeks and it is no longer healthy.

Some things cannot be shaken off. It is time to throw in the towel, wave the white flag, and hand in my resignation letter.

I can now wake up lighthearted and stress-free. You cannot put a price tag on this feeling. Trust me, I know.

Aside from prioritizing my mental health and well-being, I want to spend quality time with my family over the holiday season. Over the years, I have been noticeably absent as I would prefer to sleep during the holidays rather than spend time with them so I can rest. This is me avoiding the FAQ holiday questions by the family tree.

I also need to reevaluate my career plans. I enjoy what I do but lately, it sucks the life out of my social battery. I may have outgrown the industry that I used to love working for and got bored with the routine activities. I also like to have a WFH job. But I need to take my time to contemplate this.

Other reasons for a career break

Someone once mentioned to me that you should not let work define you. We spend most of our waking hours at work that it defined who we are. Nothing is permanent. Today you are an up-and-coming executive chef but when you hit your 50s, you want to be a farmer in the boondocks.

I know some people who are undergoing an early midlife crisis like I am. This is usually triggered when there are life-changing transitions and you don’t feel like you’re adjusting to it over time. In my case, I find that there is nothing wrong in my life but nothing excites me either.

Below are some reasons why people take a career break.

You want a new outlook in life. This can be triggered by a trauma that prompted you to take a pause, step back to look at the bigger picture, and spend time finding what you really want to do in life. In other words, getting lost to find yourself. Switching gears from looking for a soul mate to soul searching real quick.

A break from a toxic work environment. Leave if you need to leave. Move out if you need to move out. Don’t be scared to take risks. Successful ones always win because they know what they want and don’t hesitate to take risks. Always keep in mind if you need to choose between work and yourself, always choose yourself.

Travel the world. Some countries started opening their borders to tourists. This is the perfect time to take that adult gap year and go backpacking across Asia or Europe. Travel while you’re still young and single. You might not be able to do this once you have kids unless you married a millionaire.

Pursue a passion project. Be it doing volunteer work or making a career out of your passion, the important thing is you are doing what you love. If you love what you’re doing, it is no longer a job. #ilovemyjob

Focus on passion projects or new hobbies. You can enroll in diving lessons and learn free diving, brush up your photography skills to earn some dough, or do webinar talks.

It’s okay to take a career break because you need it. Whatever your reason is, you need it. 

How to explain the blank space in your resume

Taking a career break is nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t need to hide it from your employers. Be honest in explaining your career break to potential employers. If you handle it well, it might impress your interviewer, and use it to your advantage.

I am no expert but below are some things that might help you once you are ready to take on a new job.

  • Practice and rehearse possible questions about your career break during the job interview. Be confident and show employers that you are not ashamed of it.
  • Share life experiences you have gained during your time off. Mention volunteer and charity work if you did some. Capitalize on life lessons and realizations. 
  • Highlight role-specific new skills or soft skills you’ve learned during your break. This can be your passion projects or hobbies you picked up along the way.

Speed and adrenaline rush seems awesome for the young ones but as you get older and wiser, you seek comfort and peace of mind. It’s time to slow down, reflect, and enjoy the rest of your journey.

Live life slowly. Grow older. Be wiser.