Maybe you envision it longingly: the opportunity to step away from your current at-work responsibilities and find joy in something new. Maybe you dream of traveling around the world and changing your routine for a period. Perhaps a new routine might be exactly what you’ve been craving.
These thoughts might seem silly, irresponsible, or counterproductive, but there could be something more to it. Taking a career break now — and finding a new routine and traveling — might actually boost your productivity in the end.
What Is a Career Break?
To be clear, a career break isn’t walking away from a job without planning to ever return to the work force. Instead, a career break is a planned opportunity to break away from your current position, with the hopes of returning to that position or something similar in the future. It’s a break, it’s not forever.
It could be used for travel, to start something new on the side, to take time for family or all of these things at the same time! The goal is to end up back in the work force or working independently at some point in the future.
Career Breaks Help Redefine Focus Areas
Regardless of the reason for the break, many people are apprehensive about the idea of simply stepping away from the work force. This is especially true of women who take a break to raise their families. In fact, 70% of women struggle to step away from their careers because of the fear of what will happen when they try to return. When anyone contemplates a break it brings up fear of falling behind in our career, expertise, and hire-ability.
These fears are unfounded. When you have the opportunity to step away from your position, you have more time to focus on what you want when you return. Whether it’s a new area of employment or something else, when you are out of the work force, you’re able to focus on what matters to you, not what you’re told should matter. This means you will return to something you’re passionate about, not something you question on a daily basis.
Broken Routines Increase Productivity
If you’ve been in the same career for years, you’ve developed a set of routines. Routines not only in your work day of weekly meetings, your industry life cycle, and yearly reviews; but also in your full day from waking up to going to bed. You wake around the same time each day, eat similar foods for breakfast and head off to the office. Maybe you take a break during lunch or after the workday ends to get in some activity. But then, you probably head home, grab dinner and end your day; day after day, year after year. It’s monotonous, and routines make our brains and body’s lazy.
Science has proven that breaking up routines — by taking a career break, for instance — forces the brain to form new synapses. These synapses make it easier to learn new skills, boost problem-solving abilities and lead to more productivity.
Strengthen and Build New Skills
There’s a reason doctorate level professors and those in other professions are granted sabbaticals to travel, to write and to do what they’re passionate about. These breaks help build and harness existing skills while learning new ones along the way.
Perhaps your current level of education limits your ability to move up in the work force. If you were able to focus on your education or on obtaining training in new areas, you could enhance your skill set. This could lead to a career advancement that might not be possible at your current position. A career break could prevent you from remaining stagnant in the work force.
Changes in Scenery Boost Performance and Creativity
It’s not simply about changing your routine, but consider there are additional advantages to changing your physical view. Studies have shown that spending more time in nature can make you happier, so why not plan a cross-country trip to different state parks or the top-rated relaxing beaches?
In one study, 75% of executives even said that travel boosts job performance, with 68% claiming that it also boosts creativity. Packing your bags for a career break could boost your marketability and perspective after you return to work.
If you’ve been looking for a way to break out of your current rut, but are worried about what a career break could do to your future, your fear is most likely unfounded. By taking a career break you could return to the work force with a higher level of productivity, happiness and more creativity, imagine the possibilities — they could be endless A career break might be exactly what you need to increase your promotability and overall job skills in the future.