Taking a break from corporate careers
I made the decision to” take a break” from corporate gigs about 23 days ago. It wasn’t like I had years of experience to burn me out. Nor was I was at the peak of my career. In fact quite the contrary, I am an early professional!
What led me to make this decision was due to the lack of clarity and purpose. Also because I wasn’t having fun!
Some may probably write this off and say, “Aah, classic Gen Z kids with their impulsiveness!”, but I’d argue and say that this was a long thought out decision.
All along I’ve only heard people say “I wish I had the guts to break away from my job.” I never understood it, until I was considering plunging into this move.
Now here’s a friendly DISCLAIMER: I can’t tell you whether this is the best or the worst decision of my life (partly because I have zero idea about how this would impact my future). BUT now that I am finally here, I can fill you in on my experience thus far and why this decision maybe helpful to put things into perspective!
THE CLASSIC FEAR OF MISSING OUT
No this is not your usual “FOMO” I am talking about. But the fear of missing out opportunities and potential career moves when you decide to break so early in your corporate life!
When I decided to move back home, I had a very simple plan to execute: go home, relax, rejuvenate and TAKE THAT BREAK. How long would this break be? Until I felt invigorated enough to bounce back into what truly drove my USP’s!
SPOILER ALERT: That break lasted for about 2 weeks! I had an itching urge to restart the purposeless job search again. Only because I couldn’t fathom going around and publicly stating that I was jobless and taking a break….
Not to mention the numerous other fears that built up exponentially in my mind. Namely:
“Do I really want to part from a job that heavily cushioned my bank account and championed my resume?”
“I’m moving back to a country where career breaks are seen as incompetence’s. Will I get another job that will understand my choices?”
And the ever so classic fear: “People are totally going to heavily judge me for wasting my precious time so early in my career.”
All valid fears that were so deeply rooted in me and disabled me from making any decision quicker. I relied heavily on a job title and the social standing that comes with it, that I forgot what drove my intrinsic worth.
I’d read countless articles and life enriching podcasts that repeatedly state: “If you are unhappy with the monotonous lifestyle, then TAKE THAT LEAP to change it around!”. And yet here I was cowardly going back to what I wanted a break from- A JOB.
That’s about when I realized that
A.) Mustering the courage to break apart from a “successful” life (AKA: great job/ amazing salary) is a daunting task and
B.) Girl, take that plunge and see what depths you can reach! Fears are inevitable.
And cut to my current status: The figuring out phase.
A phase where I’ve had to work every day to figure some plan out. For one, I’ve read countless blogs to help reinstate the confidence to stay true to my decision of taking a break. Plus toying with the other usual suspects like travel, finding a new hobby, jumpstarting a course etc.
In essence, any activity that can stimulate the brain and keep me occupied is something worth considering.
I was an athlete, I am used to a structured lifestyle. Trust me when I say, my internal dialogue is already kicking me to wake up from my honeymoon phase and regroup. The uncertainty about the future is what overwhelms me at times!
But the figuring out phase is a constant balancing act. They aren’t glamorous everyday. Somedays you question your decision while the other days, you are confident about rebuilding. That’s what’s helped me repel from my prior repetitive lifestyle and has helped frame some new perspective on the next direction I head toward.
The building blocks
I frantically SOS’d my brother the other day and said “What the heck am I doing with my life!?”. You could say it’s a mix of all the fears and the figuring out phase that got to my head.
And at that moment he kept his explanation simple, but it was quite profound for me.
He said that I was, for the longest time, used to doing things the quintessential way- school to college to job (the rest is history…). Everyone around me were doing the same thing too. That’s the lifestyle we’ve always known. So when I decided to do something “out of the ordinary”… isn’t it bound to be unexplored? And the only way to get through that herculean amounts of uncertainty is to take it one task at a time.
“Like building blocks”… I thought. The newness is my new normal.
Everyday during this break is like a building block. Every task, every emotion, every article read or course taken- I have intentionally signed up for hopefully adding some value, for a sturdier and HAPPIER lifestyle.
I know many who’ve hit pause on their career journeys thanks to all the time they’ve had on hand, this Covid season! People who’ve taken a break to reassess and find what they are passionate about. Prioritize what is important, or better yet, FIND the priorities that are important.
I have already gained many lessons: To slow down and sit with myself. To work on projects I am actually passionate about. To give myself the gift of time rather than chasing it down constantly. This is certainly temporary. And I am excited to explore new avenues and discover more.
I can’t advice you on when to take your break. But If you are thinking about it, I’d certainly ask you to take that leap. Everything will fall into place when it needs to be!