Circumstances: Burnt Out or Bummed Out?

[singlepic=1219,250,,,right]Congratulations for taking the first step in planning a career break or sabbatical – recognizing that you possibly want to take one! It’s not an easy decision to make, especially if you are surrounded by people who question your choice. But we are here to let you know you’re not alone.

So what brought you to this point? Feel stuck in your career? Need a new direction but not sure where to go? Not being challenged? All of the above?

Everyone experiences these feelings some point in their career, but only a few will do something to change them. There are many ways to find the inspiration to make change, and for us, taking a cultural career break was just the answer.

[singlepic=1220,250,,,left]Michael Bontempi had been at his job for thirteen years – ever since he graduated college. It had its ups and downs but for the most part, he really enjoyed his role and responsibilities. But then he hit a ceiling for advancement and knew that if he wanted to move up, he needed to move on. So he put his belongings in storage, gave up his lease, and hit the road with me. It was a leap of faith, but our 2007 career break gave him the energy and inspiration to refocus his career goals.

Sherry Ott felt stuck in her corporate job and needed to reevaluate her career goals as well. She even questioned if she wanted to be in a corporate job anymore. “I had been working in the Information Technology industry and finally realized that no matter how lucrative of a job it was – it wasn’t me. I didn’t get excited by bits and bytes.”

After finding a subletter for her apartment and a foster home for her cat, she set off on a 16-month journey – four months longer than she originally planned.

[singlepic=1222,250,,,right]With one-month left of travel, she evaluated how she felt. “A month ago, I actually got out my resume and looked at it wondering what all of it even meant. I really, really tried to remember specifics about my old job – what software we used, what vendors I worked with, what projects I worked on for three years – and I could come up with nothing but faint memories of bad florescent lighting and eating at my desk. All of the specific memories have moved into the deep depths of my brain waiting to flash before my eyes at the time of my death. Instead – my brain is now filled with pictures…pictures of the world, of dramatic landscapes, kids, families, big smiles, and desperate poverty. It is filled with knowledge…knowledge of the world, cultures, and joy.”

Along the way she discovered a love for teaching and found her inner writer and photographer. She is now pursuing all of these goals while living in Vietnam. Not bad for someone who got her first passport just a few years earlier.

[singlepic=1221,250,,,left]I’ve been fortunate to have been exposed to travel from an early age, so I always find a way to intertwine it in my life. Shortly after graduating college, I backpacked through New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji for six months before starting on my career path. It wasn’t long before I realized I didn’t have the same goals that most people around me had – career, marriage, kids, mini-vans, and the suburbs. I knew that travel was more of a priority than anything else.

I know it’s time to move on from a job whenever I feel like I’m no longer being challenged and just playing it safe staying there. And I find it rejuvenating and motivating to travel before pursuing my next job. “How can you do that? I would never be able to do that.” is a very common response to my various travels. And for the most part it comes from people who have followed the “expected” life journey.

My reply is usually “Of course you can – it’s all about priorities.” I now do freelance design work as well as focusing on Briefcase to Backpack.

And that’s how you should look at this crossroads in your life and make it a priority to do something about it. You never know – a cultural career break could be just the answer you need.

We’d love to hear from you:

Have you taken a career break or sabbatical? How and why did you decide to do so? Share here.

Other comments

One Comment on "Circumstances: Burnt Out or Bummed Out?"

  1. Blowing out the Candles | Ottsworld on Fri, 12th Feb 2010 8:57 am 

    […] Read my writing on Ottsworld, sign up for the newsletter or email RSS feed. More importantly, follow Briefcase to Backpack and become a fan of us on Facebook or sign up for the RSS feed. If you’ve already done this, then be a disciple and tell a friend! I know you have friends that would love to learn more about career breaks! […]

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