Reflection: Giving Thanks for Career Breaks Past

In celebration of Thanksgiving this week, we’ve asked career breakers past and present to share with us what makes them thankful for having taken their career break to travel.


[singlepic=1487,250,,,right]Marc Hoffmeister – 4Suitcases
We’re very thankful to be spending this Thanksgiving back at home, surrounded by family, friends, and the proper food! Even though it caused me to miss out on those things last year, I still owe my career break a huge debt of gratitude.

So thank you, career break:

  • for helping me build a stronger relationship with the most important people in my life;
  • for shattering my misconceptions and stereotypes about other countries & cultures;
  • for teaching me to appreciate the good things about my own country & culture, and putting the bad stuff into perspective;
  • for introducing me to so many wonderful people all over the world, who continue to help and inspire me every day;
  • for showing me so much beauty;
  • for showing me how silly most of my fears are;
  • and most of all, for giving me time to evaluate my priorities and lifestyle choices – and for presenting me with lots of other options that never would have occurred to me otherwise. I can’t wait to try some more of them out!

[singlepic=1581,250,,,right]David Lee – Go Backpacking
I’m thankful for having taken a career break because it allowed me to fulfill a personal dream of mine to travel for an extended period of time. I felt completely free and it was everything I hoped for and more.

In addition to the travel itself, I learned a lot of practical lessons before leaving home which I will be able to apply for the rest of my life. For example, how setting short-term financial goals can make achieving a big, long term goal more realistic of an endeavor.

I’m also thankful that I had the guts to go through with the whole plan! It was incredibly fulfilling, and I returned home a more self-assured person.

[singlepic=1422,250,,,right]Barbara Weibel – Hole in the Donut
I am thankful for having taken a career break because it totally ruined me…at least, that’s what my family would tell you. Prior to backpacking around the world for six-months, my existence was one of corporate meetings, politics, gossip, unbelievable stress, and a mindset where the almighty dollar is the only measure by which success is judged. By that standard I was successful; I was also miserably unhappy. I hated every day of my life and detested my job.

Taking a break helped me to reconnect with what is truly important in life, made me realize that I was not being true to myself. Upon returning, I was determined to pursue my passions, regardless of what others thought or the possibility that I would lose everything I had worked for. Rather than getting another “regular” job, I recreated myself as a travel writer and photographer. It has been nearly three years since I made this decision. I no longer live in the lap of luxury. My life is simple; my material possessions are few. But I am happier and more grateful than I have ever been. I can’t wait to get up every day and I love what I do. If this is the definition of ruination, please let us all be ruined.

[singlepic=1526,250,,,right]Brian Peters – No Debt World Travel
I am thankful to be able to pursue the ideas that have been percolating at the back of mind for years. I am thankful for being laid off from my job to pursue something new, travel around the world and meet all kinds of amazing new people. A job loss can be the most liberating thing in the world. Years ago I would never say that, but I can say that now.

Lastly I’m thankful for a career break to be able to talk about my passion for travel and sharing that with the world. Nothing feels better than aiding people reach their own goals and ambitions.

[singlepic=1454,250,,,right]Rebecca Zanatta – The Plan B Adventure
I am thankful to have taken a career break for so many reasons, here are my top 3: Adaptability, Resourcefulness and Perspective.

Travel forces (strongly encourages) you to be adaptable. You miss the flight you need, your hotel isn’t what you expected, your bus driver decides to take food break at the most inconvenient time, you can’t find an ATM…all of these situations force you to be adaptable. Plan A often turns into Plan H, and that is okay, because somewhere between A and H you learn something new about yourself you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

I learned to be very resourceful during my career break. How do you get from Pakistan to China with only one open mountain pass? What is the best way to see Istanbul in three days? The answer to both of these questions is resourcefulness! You have to have faith in yourself and your travel partner (in my case, my husband) to be creative and ask the right questions (maybe more than once). It isn’t easy to have to think through every situation from every angle, but I am thankful to have developed this skill during my career break.

I am most thankful for the perspective I gained during my career break. Perspective is hard to get without putting yourself in difficult and challenging situations. If you play life safe and calculated all the time your perspective will be different than if you accept opportunities to grow through change and risk. Visiting 25 countries on 4 continents definitely challenged me to view my life differently and changed my perspective. I believe it is important to spend time doing the things you love with the people you love the most. A career break can change your life and open you to thoughts, opinions and perspective you never believed possible…for this I am thankful.

Other comments

5 Comments on "Reflection: Giving Thanks for Career Breaks Past"

  1. Tweets that mention Reflection: Giving Thanks for Career Breaks Past | Briefcase to Backpack - Travel Advice for Career Breaks or Sabbaticals -- on Mon, 23rd Nov 2009 12:02 pm 

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BriefcasetoBackpack, David Lee. David Lee said: RT @CareerBreakHQs: See why @4suitcases @rtwdave @holeinthedonut & @brianepeters are thankful for a #careerbreak […]

  2. Dave on Mon, 23rd Nov 2009 12:53 pm 

    Michaela –

    Thanks for letting me be a part of such an inspiring post. Leaving your established job or career behind – whether on purpose or through a layoff, is a scary proposition. Even after I’ve done it, I still feel the pressure to go back to doing the work which I know could earn me the most money, but like Barbara, I’d hate it.

    “I was determined to pursue my passions, regardless of what others thought or the possibility that I would lose everything I had worked for”

    As she so eloquently put it, I’d rather recreate myself as a travel blogger and live a simpler life doing what I love than return to work which does not reflect my passions in life.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. brian from on Mon, 23rd Nov 2009 5:51 pm 

    It appears perspective and the chance to recreate yourself is the biggest thing to come out of the career breaks.

    I was glad to be part of this post. Hope someone gets the push/nudge/jolt to move forward with whatever their ambitions are, travel or otherwise.

  4. Barabra @ Hole In The Donut Travels on Tue, 24th Nov 2009 12:31 am 

    Hi Michaela:
    Thanks for letting me share my gratitude. I am also thankful for YOUR efforts to make a career break an accepted part of the American culture.

  5. Sherry Ott on Tue, 24th Nov 2009 11:40 am 

    Thanks for sharing everyone!! Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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