Are you unemployed or simply not quite happy with your current job? Do you have friends who did not follow a structured career plan and nonetheless succeeded? Do you wonder what it would be like to spend every single hour of the day learning and living things that constantly inspire you? Then you have probably been thinking about taking a year off, but you just didn’t dare to admit it. You want to live a challenging life, one that does not include performing a task that you can’t remember why you started doing in the first place.
However it still sounds like a crazy idea. Taking a year off… you think that’s for youngsters, dropouts, freshmen, or adolescents wandering around. It would not look good on your CV. Your family would ask questions, your colleagues would not be supportive, and above all, you would judge yourself.
But who says you can’t justify the Sabbatical year? Who decided that taking a year off would damage your life so badly and it would ruin your career? It has been proven that dramatically changing your environment inspires you beyond belief. So turn your smart phone off, close your laptop and press the only button in your iPad. It’s time for a Gap Year, and here’s why:
1. It Gets You Outside The Box > No More Labels
People tend to put labels in order to define and categorize the world around them. You might be labelled as a certain kind of employer, or specialist in a particular industry. But that’s just one side of you, that’s who you are inside the box. When you leave your comfort zone, your location, or your job, you are no longer “the analyst of the office”, “the over achiever” or whatever you feel you are been tagged as. That can be intimidating, but it also opens a new world of possibilities. You will become The Real You. If no one knows you then there is no baggage, no preconceptions, and no tangible expectations. You could do anything.
2. It Enriches Your Profile/ CV > New Set of Skills
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So you have a Major in Law, experience in Law, read about Law and your network belongs to Law. You need to shake things up a little. New connections, new people, new experiences will boost up your Profile, ergo your CV; and this will set you apart. You will no longer be another applicant, but an interesting one with a different set of skills. Some skills might be concrete like a Buddhist Seminar or a course in Roman Art. Others might be implicit after countless experiences you would have never had in your hometown. After sorting out a long boat through the Mekong River in Thailand, you will not be scared by a deadline at work anymore.
3. It Boosts Up Your Confidence > Higher Self Esteem
Knowing that you can make it anywhere is a great treat for your self esteem. Finding new friends, a new home, or even choosing the right hostels could be quiet challenging at times. Also, applying for a job abroad means you need to do a lot of research about applications in your new location. Which are the job sites? How are CV’s structured? Should you include a cover letter? How are interviews conducted? Each country is very particular about these things, and understanding the new market might take time, but when you made it, your confidence level will inevitably go up.
4. It Opens Your Mind > Empathy
Exposing yourself to new cultures and new people, forces you to maximize your sense of empathy. You understand what others are feeling and living, for better or for worse. The most interesting people you will meet are the ones that you will encounter while travelling, simply because you are more open to meet strangers. You need to ask them for directions, suggestions about places to stay, and you will need to rely on their kindness. You will leave with a wiser mind and a higher sense of compassion.
5. It’s an Investment In Yourself > Find the Real You
In the end you will be a new you. One that combines your so called “normal” life, with your outside the box experiences, an open mind, a richer profile and your new found confidence.
So go ahead and take that year off you’ve been thinking about for so long. It’s never too late. And if someone asks why, just refer them to this note and save yourself from the explanation; ‘cause you need to start packing your bags.
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