10 Things To Do When You’re On A Career Break

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8 min read

Are you currently on a career break? Or about to take one? Are you on the fence about taking the plunge? If scepticism about how you’ll spend your free time is keeping you from taking a career break or utilising the one you’re on optimally, you’ve come to the right place! 

Whether you’ve been forced into a career break because of external factors, or you’re considering taking a career break for personal or family reasons, it’s important you see this time as not just a break, but an opportunity!

There is no right or wrong way to spend your break. Whether resting and rejuvenating or travelling and learning, treat your career break as a way to both break free of your previous life, as well as help you move forward towards a new, healthy, and successful one.

So, keeping the ‘career break = opportunity’ mantra in mind, here are a few things you can do during your career break to heal, have fun, and grow!

10 Things To Do On A Career Break

1.      Sleep!

Working too late into the night; finding it difficult to fall asleep because you’re worrying about the next day; waking up extra early for a meeting or to meet a deadline – our lives as working professionals often inadvertently become a long stretch of disrupted sleep, and eventually a disrupted sleep cycle.

Image source: greatergood.berkeley.edu

A key thing to keep in mind during a career break:  you might not get this stretch of free time for a while.

So, catch up on all the sleep you missed during your work days! One of the best things to do on a career break. Go to bed stress-free. Shut off those alarms for a while. Force your “I can survive on 5 hours of sleep” body to indulge in a full eight hours every night. Enjoy the immense benefits a healthy sleep routine can provide!

2.  Volunteer

This one is for both your personal and professional growth.

Volunteer your time and effort. You get to contribute to a worthy cause you’re passionate about, feel productive, sharpen your skills based on the volunteer work you’re doing, and add the experience to your resume for when you decide to rejoin the workforce. One of the many advantages of a career break.

3.  Take Up A Challenge

Always wanted to develop a better fitness routine? Wish you had the time to Marie Kondo your whole life? Want a skincare routine fit to appear on Vogue’s ‘Beauty Secrets’ series?

This is your time to challenge yourself! Map out your daily tasks, give yourself a fixed amount of time to show results, and take up the challenge!

4.  Upskill

While you re-evaluate your career aspirations during your career break, complement it by exploring new areas. Learn new skills. Maybe you’ll find a new hobby. Maybe you’ll find a new career path you’d like to explore and you can reflect on the imperative question of whether you need an altogether new career.

Attend workshops, join online courses, and watch informational videos. Build on the skills you already possess. Learn a new skill, be it related to your current career, or completely unrelated!

5. Figure out your finances 

There’s no excuse to avoid familiarising yourself with your finances now; especially now, when you aren’t earning. Managing finances: one of the most important things to do while on break at work.

Take this time to understand and plan for your savings, investments, expenses, and budget. Use this understanding to build fiscally healthy habits moving forward. 

6.  Mentor

Taking a career break, doesn’t take away everything you’ve learned through the course of your career.

Consider becoming a mentor to someone who could benefit from your particular skill set and guidance. It could be someone in your family, your previous organisations, your network, or even a friend. Explain how your career experience, knowledge, and guidance could help them, and invest in them as a mentor.

Mentoring can be an extremely enriching experience for both you, and your mentee!

7.  Read

Tackle that growing pile of books (a physical pile if you’re like me) you’ve wanted to read but never had the time or attention span to get to.

Image source: flickr.com

Reading is one of the best ways to keep your mind stimulated and your creative juices flowing.

Read books that are profession-specific and will help keep you updated in your area of work, but don’t restrict yourself to just that. Read as wide a range of genres as brings you joy and stimulation.  

8.  Travel (When It’s Safe To Again)

Travel, aka everyone’s go-to activity during a career break. And who can blame them!

Travelling as a working professional usually means limited vacation days, months of planning, leave applications, and that inevitable niggling worry about work throughout the trip. But during a career break? Off-season travel, lesser crowds, discounts, no work stress at the back of your mind – these are all at your fingertips!  

While travelling isn’t a possibility or advisable right now, definitely keep this option in mind if you’re on a career break when it’s safe to travel once again. If the idea of travelling makes you excited, take this time to plan for a trip once it’s safe to travel. Research, plan your travel itinerary, figure out how much you need to save, what places you’d want to visit, and read up about them! Make the most of your career break and take good advantage of the time available on your hands!

9.  Catch Up With Family And Friends

Have your friends and family gotten used to you responding to their calls and texts after several hours (or days). Long, tiring days and conflicting schedules can often do that.

Take this time to connect with friends and family. Catch up with the people you haven’t properly talked to in a while.

Talking and connecting with the people that matter to you will expand your bubble beyond yourself, while helping you connect with yourself better as well.

10.  Revisit A Passion

Was there a hobby you once found immense joy in, but haven’t visited in years? Did you lose touch with a passion in your pursuit of a successful career?

You could take this time to rekindle an old hobby or passion. You don’t have to be good at it or even become better at it, as long as it brings you joy.

Engaging in hobbies – whether they can be built into something lucrative or not – can be immensely fulfilling. The willingness to be patient, unlearn, relearn, and have fun, will definitely help you in your personal and professional journey moving forward.

You don’t have to do all of these things during your career break;  you don’t even have to do any! Don’t put pressure on yourself to be productive during your career break. This is the time to relax, take a step back, and reflect.

Spend your career break doing exactly what you need to do to rejuvenate, re-evaluate, and rebuild. I hope some of these 10 suggestions help you do just that!

Updated 12 August 2021

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Sanjana writes far too little to call herself a writer and reads far too much pop-culture fiction to call herself a reader. She once received a Special Mention for the Best Young Critic Award by MAMI, and refuses to stop talking about it. Her love for films, art, and theatre runs deep and is only borderline pretentious. She detests writing in third person but can be convinced to engage in it occasionally.

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