Planning Career Breaks for Long Term Sustainable Growth

November 14, 2022
by
Han Sam Lai

There was a time where taking a career break was akin to career suicide. 

Many companies offer sabbaticals as a benefit to their employees. Its purpose is for their employees to take a break from their day-to-day work and have an opportunity to work on their passion projects or contribute more to community work. It is a form of refreshment and renewal for when they come back to work after a break.

A new idea proposed by author Tim Ferriss in his book “The 4-Hour Workweek”, is the idea of a mini retirements. Mini retirements are essentially, a series of intentional breaks throughout your career, rather than one final retirement. This is very different from a sabbatical or unpaid leave. It is about a clean break from regular employment for a period of time, followed by a reentering the workplace later or maybe starting the business/charity you've always dreamed of having.

What are the benefits of taking mini retirements?

Complete Rest

Unencumbered with the obligation of going to back to work after a sabbatical, mini retirements allow for complete rest. It is a period where both mind, body and soul can be free from the hectic workday and stressful datelines. It allows for recovery and reignite the passion for our careers.

Reset Life Goals

This is also a great opportunity to spend time reflecting and resetting our life goals. With the hustle bustle of life, we may have lost sight of what we want and who we want to become. Taking a complete break give us the time and space to plan the next stage of our lives more deliberately.

Pursue Passions and Interests

A mini retirement is a great opportunity to complete that MBA or to learn how to paint or take that mission trip to build houses for the underprivileged. Pursuing our passions and interests have tremendous mental and psychological benefits to our personal growth. 

How does one plan for a mini retirement?

Ask yourself why you want a mini retirement

As with every major decision, you must know the reason why you want a mini retirement. It cannot be on a wimp or a means of escape from difficulties at work. Spend the time to make sure you have a good solid reason to take one. A great example is wanting to travel overseas to volunteer for a cause you deeply believe in. By thinking about the reason, you are giving yourself confidence and focus for the career break.

Plan for the mini retirement

You must plan for the mini retirement and not just resigned impulsively. As a mini retirement is an investment in terms of time, energy, and money, you must spend time on creating a practical timeline and plan for what you can invest. It is meant to refresh you so a mini retirement must not leave you worse than before. There must be a plan around finances, how you will be spending your time and what are the timelines. Also, you must have contingency plans for when your personal situation changes.

Think about how to reenter the workforce

Whether it is gaining employment, starting a business or a charity, you must have a transition plan for when the mini retirement ends. While it does not have to be in details at the beginning, as time passes, your transition plan must be clear so that you know exactly what to do when you come out of the mini retirement. This will set you up for success in maintaining sustainable growth, both personally and professionally.

Not yet ready for a major break? Take a small one to experiment how it feels like – it could be a 1-2 month break to see if it is something you want to take on. 

Taking a mini retirement can be an illuminating and restful experience if you take the time to plan well. It can give you the clarity you need about your life that you may not be able to have living a busy work life. May you find what you are looking for in your mini retirement!

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