Why I Quit My Job and Decided to Take a Career Break

Career break was an inspiration I got from Stefan Sagmeister on the power of time off. He has a very simple, yet powerful message, “take 5 years from your retirement years and interpose them into your working years”.

Why should you do this you say?

It’s because a break is actually life defining, not life defeating.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

If you take a step back to reflect. Most of our lives is set on a daily routine. We wake up, take a shower, eat breakfast, drink coffee, and then get into our car to drive to work. We waste an hour to 2 hours commuting on the road.  When we get to work, we usually walk past the same people every day and sit at the same desk.  Throughout the day we see the same people walking past us at the same time each day for their breaks. No one seems to interact but just be in their own world which is unlikely to change. At the end of the day we get back into our car and commute home on the same road. Only to do it all over again the next day.

I hope there is a purpose to life than this?


Colleagues from EY

Most days I still enjoyed my work, especially working with my audit teams. However, there were also times when I questioned if all the late nights spent mulling over excel workbooks was really worth it. The answer was often no. When the answer is no I knew it was time to do something about it! I knew that it was time to take a break.

I have a passion to helping others. Help educate and teach those to not fall in the social stigma of working endlessly until you retire. It’s easy to lose perspective when we live day-to-day being surrounded by comfortability or routines we are familiar with. Familiarity breeds contempt. We lose what is important in our lives once that contempt starts settling in.

It does sound crazy to call it a ‘career break’ only after 5 years into my actual career but I’ve been in the workforce for the past 12 years. Now it seems like the perfect time to take one. I don’t have a mortgage, car loan or any debt. My fiancée and I don’t plan to have children anytime soon. If I didn’t take a career break at this point in my life I fear that I would find myself 15-20 years from now regretting my life choices. Doing the same agenda, tasks, and asking myself “what could have been?” or “what if?”.

What could have been?

  • Would I have developed or enhanced my skills?
  • What if the career break reignited my passion for life and work?
  • What if the career break guided me to a more enjoyable career?
  • What if I never see parts of the world that I have always wanted to?

When talking about taking a career break to people the usual replies are all What if questions too:

  • What about your safety?
  • What about your career and the gap in your resume?
  • What if you get sick or homesick?
  • What if you can’t find employment after?
Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

For me, there is really only one what if question that does worry me in making this decision. What if I can’t find employment after? After much consideration and seeking advice from others about this question. I have come to the conclusion that the reasons to take a career break far outweigh the reasons not to.

Taking a career break is not a career suicide. In fact, you’re gaining new skills that employers are seeking. Practically everyone who goes on a career break will return with better soft skills acquired while on the road. Other skills can be risk assessment, negotiation skills, patience, adapting quickly to changing environments, and enhanced decision-making. The key here is that employers want to see that you improved your skills rather than just took an extended holiday. As long as you address it to your future employers and what skills or activities you did then I think an employer would be more understanding.

During the career break I plan to accomplish the following:

  • Develop and deliver content from this website. Inspiring others to do the same.
  • Travel to and explore parts of the world I have only seen in pictures.
  • Challenge myself by pushing myself the boundaries of my comfort zone. Embrace and immerse myself in new cultures and ways of life.
  • Learn new skills that I can use in life and for my future employers.
  • To step back and see that there is more to life than doing a job that you can never switch off from and take home with you at night and weekends.
  • Write more about taking a break and try to help guide others who might feel they are in a similar position.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

When considering a career break you must remember: a career break will either reignite the path you are currently on or it will drive you to make lifestyle changes. It’s a win-win situation!

Jon Jovi

Jon Jovi Olaveja is the founder and editor in chief of Points of Early Retirement. He is passionate about saving money by traveling the world on points and teaching others how to accomplish this. He loves to write about travel and personal finance.