The road less traveled - The decision to take a Career Break
At the start of July 2017, I was doing well professionally- a good performance year, an expected promotion and a leadership role. I liked what I was doing, the organization, the people I was working with, and I was reasonably good at it, and yet I had this feeling of there being something else which I needed, something incomplete. By the start of August 2017, I was in discussions with my organization about my notice period.
. . .
I had decided to take a break from my corporate job and explore a different career path, and the single most common reaction I got was, “What!”. This was expected. For people who did not know me well, it was difficult to accept that I could just ‘take a break’ even though things were going good professionally. For people who did know me, it was difficult to accept that I could just ‘take a break’!
But after that initial reaction, and once they had settled and grudgingly accepted what I was going to do, the most common question was, “How did you decide?”
For different people asking that question, there was a distinct nuance.
Some were asking, “How did you decide this was the right time?”. While some were asking, “How did you decide that you have the resources?”. Others still were asking, “How did you decide that you could take a break and come back?”.
And truthfully, I did not have a simple answer. In fact, I went on a few verbose rants, which might have confused a few.
But once I did leave my corporate job and had time (so much of it!) to reflect, I was able to crystallize my thoughts and was able to create a clearer process in my mind of how I had arrived at that decision.
Even though it felt intuitive at that time, I had been thinking (or preparing?) about it for a few months before arriving at the decision.
I had been creating a whiteboard of everything I wanted to do, explore, try, learn for which I was either not finding the time or was dragging myself on.
I had been in conversation with many leaders and mentors on my career graph and “Where I wanted to be in the next 5 years”.
I had been exploring and picking up side-projects at (cross-functional, events) and outside (social, counselling) of work.
I had been having discussions with my family and friends on what was working and what was not.
I had been introspecting and jotting down notes on me as an individual; passions, strengths, inspirations, motivations.
And the culmination of doing all that helped me arrive at the decision, right or wrong, of leaving my comfortable (mostly) job and trying to explore the world outside.
There were, of course, a couple of other aspects that came into play about the decision- the money and the perception; but these were more managing steps with respect to timing it rather than decision steps.
It was a complicated decision to make, and definitely a complicated process. And it took a further few days to finally arrive at the decision as well as a planned approach to prepare for the break (more on that soon).
But, today, if someone asks me the same questions they did then- How, What, Why- I can refer to these points and give a more succinct reply this time.
Do you think I missed something? Are you undergoing a similar dilemma and thinking about a decision soon? Have you yourself taken such a decision?