Did you wake up this morning and bounce out of bed ready to start your day?
Or did you stumble on autopilot into the bathroom dreading another soul-crushing day at the office?
You’ve spent the last thirty years working hard, raising a family, paying off a mortgage and generally being an upstanding citizen.
The kids are gone and you think “What am I going to do now?”
How about taking a career break abroad?
Turning fifty is a perfect time and it’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. More and more mature aged people are taking a year off work to travel.
And you’d be surprised how many people are taking a career break at 50.
Career Break Meaning
So what the heck is a career break?
Simply put a career break is dedicated time away from work.
It’s usually for an extended amount of time and can be anything from a few months to a couple of years.
If you take a trip abroad it’s sometimes called career break travel or career breaks abroad.
I like the term “breaking free” that’s used by some companies as that’s exactly how it feels!
People often use the term career sabbatical interchangeably with career break. But they’re actually two different things.
A company may have a sabbatical policy that allows you to take a gap year and still have a job to come back to.
Most of the time it’s without pay and things like superannuation are suspended.
Some lucky souls may still receive a percentage of their wage but this is rare.
I was able to take a year off to travel the world and still have my job to return to. (Lucky me!)
Andrew on the other hand, quit his job to take a year off work.
So I took a sabbatical break and he took a career break.
5 Reasons You Should Be Taking A Career Break At 50
1) It’s The Perfect Time For Gap Year Travel
Taking a year off at 50 to wander the world can seem scary and it can feel like you have a lot to lose.
Your job, your career, your house, all the things that make us feel secure.
But security is an issue at any age.
Young people generally have less and are busy building skills and careers, buying a house and securing their future.
By the time you reach fifty all the hard work is done.
At this stage in life, most people are more financially secure and better able to afford a year off work.
Your career is well established and you have years of experience behind you. That doesn’t disappear from your resume just because you’ve had a break from work.
In fact, you’ll be in high demand by the career break industry especially volunteer gap year programs.
Plus the kids have grown up or are at uni and living their own lives.
Woohoo! All the things that have tied you down in the past are going away, making this the perfect time to break free.
Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do – Mark Twain.
2) A Sabbatical Career Break Is Good For Your Health
When you’re stuck in a rut that’s repeated day after day, it’s easy to fall into bad habits.
Who wants to cook after a tiring day at work? Or tackle the supermarket?
The lure of Macca’s drive-thru is darn tempting. As is the greasy, golden deliciousness of fish and chips. And if you’re not eating well, chances are you’re not exercising either.
By the time we reach middle age many people are carrying a few extra kilos. If this is you, you’re not alone. I put on twenty kilos when I was studying and working.
But guess what?
Taking a year off to travel just might be the kick start you need to improve your health. As people are more inclined to take care of themselves when they’re in a positive frame of mind.
And what could be more positive than taking a year off work to travel the world? You’ll want to eat well and exercise.
When you travel you can’t help but get fit.
It seems like every church, monastery, castle and temple is set on top of a mountain. Then there are the hikes in the woods, treks to remote villages and scrambles amongst ancient ruins.
And you’ll eat better too.
The delicious local food will be irresistible and you’ll give the fast food joints the flick.
And because it’s “real” food that’s full of vitamins and minerals, you’ll look and feel amazing in no time.
Crispy fresh stir-fry
3) It Will Be Good For Your Well-Being
Taking a career break to travel, will give you the freedom to relax, rejuvenate and gain some perspective.
The person you are today at fifty is not the same as who you were at twenty.
With all the demands and distractions of modern life chances are you’ve lost track of who that is.
Now I’m not saying you should ‘go find yourself’. But taking a break will give you the breathing space to just ‘be’ and get back in touch with the real you.
It will give you a moment to think about what you want to do next – the answer might surprise you.
What’s great about travel is that you get to do new things, meet new people and experience new situations.
And you’ll feel emotions you might not have felt for a long time. Emotions like joy, amazement and wonder.
Even planning and dreaming about your trip will give you a burst of happiness.
And believe it or not, studies have shown that travel helps to keep your brain healthy and sharp.
This is because new experiences and problem solving, help to increase cognitive flexibility and creativity.
Managing these new and unexpected situations will build your self-confidence and give you a sense of achievement.
You’ll create moments that stay with you long after you’ve returned home. And remembering those special moments will fill you with joy and contentment over and over again.
Travel also gives you a greater appreciation of family and home – things we often take for granted.
Basically, travel makes you feel good but you don’t need me to tell you that!
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be – Maya Angelou
4) It Will Be Good For Your Relationship
If you are in a relationship, taking a year from work to travel will bring you closer together. It’s incredibly special to see the world with your loved one by your side.
It’s a chance to strengthen bonds, to grow, and rediscover each other. And you’ll see your partner in a new light away from the humdrum of everyday life.
There’s nothing like spending 24 hours a day together sharing life-changing events, to add a new depth to your relationship.
And get the romantic juices flowing!
Whether it’s climbing a volcano, trekking the Amazon or drinking tea with the locals, you’ll come back having experienced something amazing together.
And those experiences will become memories that only the two of you can share.
But the benefits start long before you go away.
The thrill of making the decision to take a break and see the world will transform your relationship.
Those dreary nights at home are a thing of the past when you have a trip to organise. You can turn the TV off, bring out the world map and start planning!
It will spark new conversations you’ve never had before and you’ll spend hours together researching, budgeting and organising.
And working together to make your dream a reality is a wonderful way to bring you closer together.
Don’t take my word for it though, this survey by the U.S Travel Association says it all.
5) It Will Change Your Life!
The last time we took a career break we spent four months travelling with our children.
It changed everything for us.
We returned with a different perspective of the world and a whole new set of values.
What we once thought was important no longer held any meaning, and we stopped worrying about what other people think.
Things like status and expensive cars lost their appeal and we now focus on creating experiences and memories instead.
The thrill of adventure that comes from travel is life-altering and you’ll see things that will blow your mind.
Overcoming obstacles along the way gives you the confidence and belief that you can face any of life’s hurdles.
Things you’ve been too afraid to do won’t seem as daunting anymore and you’ll finally have the nerve to do them.
Taking a career break abroad brings out the best version of you. You’ll come back happier, healthier and with a new zest for life.
It will snap you out of your rut and open you up to a whole new set of possibilities.
You just need to make the decision to do it.
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