Beware Responsible People – Embrace the Crazy

Contemplating a career break but others around you think you are crazy? Listen to this advice from Ryan and Jen Fuller, management consultants who up and took a six month career break in Argentina and Chile. Prior to hearing the term ‘career break’ they just called what they were doing ‘rehab.’

“I thought you were crazy when you said you were going on this trip; now [6 months later], I think you’re crazy for coming back”

– A friend talking about our career break

Because the concept of a career break is still quite novel (at least in the US), most of us don’t have very many people in our social groups who have ever taken one. Unfortunately, this often means that all of your excitement over the idea of leaving your job in favor of long-term travel may not engender the kind of enthusiasm you are hoping for amongst your friends/co-workers/family. Even if you are just looking for support rather than advice, you should expect to be assaulted with many, many reasons why it is a bad idea and you are crazy for even contemplating it.

Here are some of our favorites:

  1. You’re crazy
  2. Are you kidding, leave your job in this economy?
  3. You’ll never be able to explain this on your resume or in future job interviews – your career will be ruined forever
  4. It’s too expensive
  5. You’re crazy
  6. I once knew someone that went on a trip like this… they died
  7. What if you get kidnapped by drug runners?
  8. I always wished I could do something like that, but then I realized how irresponsible it would be to throw away everything I’d been working toward for so long
  9. You should wait until you get that next promotion; then you’ll have a much better safety net
  10. You’re crazy

So what do you do if you aren’t getting the kind of support that you’d like to actually take the leap?

Option 1) Go fast

Do what we did… make the decision to leave and then go before anyone really has the chance to convince you it’s a bad idea. We were in Argentina 3 weeks after we made the decision to go. Clearly this won’t work for everyone. Option 2 is probably a better route…

Option 2) Get to know other career breakers

It’s so much easier to take a leap like this when you have examples of other people from similar situations that have done it and lived to tell the tale. The challenge is that most people in our normal social groups haven’t done a career break, and this can lead one to draw the conclusion that very few people do it. The truth, we’ve found, is that LOTS of people take career breaks and have been doing so for a long time; it’s just that those people aren’t typically hanging out in your office, because they are in fact out there doing something crazy.

Jen & Ryan Fuller

We didn’t know about these people until well after we had left – in fact, we had never even heard the term ‘career break’ until we happened upon Briefcase to Backpack a few months into our adventure. Now we are thrilled to be part of the growing career break community and continue to enjoy getting to know so many amazing people doing interesting and ‘crazy’ things all over the world. The great thing about these people is that they can help to remind you of all the reasons why a career break is a good idea.

If you’re in the contemplation stage and you’re reading this, you’re already headed down the right track. There are all kinds of different people from different lifestyles, ages, careers, circumstances, etc… that have done this before, and most of them are thrilled to connect with anyone who wants to learn more about how they did it. So, find some blogs of career breakers that are similar to you and email them! Meet, Plan, Go! is an awesome resource for finding and connecting with people, and you might be surprised by how incredibly welcoming the community is.

We happen to be MBAs and management consultants from intense careers in which taking breaks is often considered unthinkable; we LOVE it when we get emails from other people in similar careers that tell us how reading about our adventure helped them feel more comfortable with the idea of going on their own. We’ve even been told by some that sending around links to our blog helped them convince their families/friends/etc… that taking a career break wasn’t quite as crazy as they thought.

In summary

If you’re thinking about doing something crazy like take a career break, a good first step is to make friends with as many other crazy people as possible. After you’ve been on the road for a few months you may think back to your co-workers who are still doing the same thing day after day and wonder which of you is actually crazier – they might do the same.

You can read about Ryan & Jen’s career break on their website Consulting Rehab. You can also follow them on Twitter at @ConsultingRehab and find them on Facebook.

Photo credits: EpicStockMedia

Other comments

5 Comments on "Beware Responsible People – Embrace the Crazy"

  1. Akila on Mon, 28th Feb 2011 2:20 pm 

    I absolutely agree about making friends doing the same sort of crazy thing! We are digital nomads and recently wrote about how we made that lifestyle happen . . . when we first decided to do it, everyone thought we were crazy. But, then we met so many other digital nomads that we felt like it could work. Now, we are SO happy to be able to live this lifestyle! We met our travel friends via our blogs which I think is the best reason to have a blog, honestly.

  2. Connie on Tue, 1st Mar 2011 12:14 am 

    How wonderful that you’re advocating crazy! I had the same reaction over two years ago when I decided to take an extended career break and I still sometimes get those questions. It’s wonderful and good to hear more people jumping on the “crazy” bandwagon!

  3. Miss Britt on Wed, 2nd Mar 2011 7:07 am 

    As parents, we’re hearing a lot of “we would LOVE to do that… after the kids are done with school.” Or “I wish I could do that – dang bills!”

    The assumption seems to be that we don’t have the same responsibilities or obligations as everyone else – or that we’re too selfish to care about them.

  4. Ryan on Thu, 3rd Mar 2011 11:34 am 

    Thanks for commenting everyone!

    @Akila – Completely agree that meeting people is the best reason to have a blog. We just started it to keep in touch with family/friends and were actually really surprised by all of the great people we started meeting through it. I’d highly recommend to anyone.

    @Connie – Crazy is just more fun 🙂

    @Miss Brit – Awesome that you’re doing it as parents! In terms of ‘responsible people’ we’ve definitely found that at least some of the people that thought we were completely crazy when we left are now actually thinking about doing something similar themselves. I think seeing that not only did we have an amazing trip, but that we came back and didn’t have any negative consequences at all in the rest of our lives/careers/etc. has made them think about it a bit more.

    Thanks all!


  5. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World on Thu, 3rd Mar 2011 2:52 pm 

    Hah, since the first country in our trip is Colombia, we got a lot of #7 (in different variations).

    I wholeheartedly agree that surrounding yourself with similar minded folk makes the transition much easier. WHhen you know you’re not alone, it doesn’t seem as ‘crazy’ despite what others might say 🙂

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