In Australia, a Gap Year is usually what teenagers do after high school and before university. It's seen as a rite of passage, coming of age and time to work out what you want to do, or be, when you grow up.
However sometimes, we hit a certain age, and still feel like we don't know what we want to be when we grow up!
I'm happy to tell you, Gap Years are for grown ups too.
When we’re feeling a bit over it, like we need to throw in the towel, or that winning the lottery or that early retirement might be a nice option - why not take a Grown Up Gap Year instead?
I never do my best creative thinking in the face of too much stress, feeling worn out and with a narrow focus. Most of my best ideas happen in the shower or when walking along the beach. In fact, if you Google "do my best thinking in the shower" there are 24,100 entries. So I'm not alone!
So why is it that we think we can make substantive career decisions when stressed and under pressure?
Taking a strategic break might be the next best thing since sliced bread.
But - and there is always a big but - what happens if you're not wanted when you get back?
Maybe you're worried you won't be perceived as good enough, edgy enough, modern enough, young enough, ambitious enough to come back in with a bang and/or a springboard.
"Age bias is a problem for men and women, but women may face more subconscious discrimination" ~ Ellen Weinreb, Forbes, 2011
Both sexism and agism are alive and well. But perhaps the opportunity to take time and embrace the 5 x R's (reflect, recalibrate, re-envisage, revitalise, redesign) might just be the thing that brings you back with more fire in your belly and rekindle your sense of direction and purpose once more.
MANAGE THE RISK
If you do decide a Gap Year (or 3, 6 or 9 months) is for you, here are four risk mitigation strategies you want to put in place during your time off
- Take charge of the narrative, before it takes charge you - Reframe your break from apologetic to something to be proud of. You may just find people are envious of your perceived bravery, your adventurousness and your willingness to back yourself. As we all know, confidence (and honest over confidence) is very much admired. Clients have even told me that their Gap Year adventures have become fascinating conversation points in interview and their perceived appetite for risk became the differentiator at final selection.
- Don’t simply disconnect entirely. After an initial break, reconnect with your old leadership/management team (grab a quarterly coffee, send articles of interest, drop an email, demonstrate you are interested, and interesting). Stay connected with your industry and sector more broadly (attend the odd event or conference, stay abreast of latest developments, put a strategic networking plan in place).
- Stay up to date – do some study in new areas (doesn’t have to be expensive), keep reading, listening to podcasts, watching curated video. And don't keep this learning a secret - be sure to let others know. Short courses at prestige universities are a great addition to your CV if you are in a position to afford them. Your results may even be better without the pressure of work deadlines looming at the same time.
- Stay visible on LinkedIn (or your professional social networking platform of choice) – once a week or so, share, comment, message with peers and your network on LinkedIn. I recommend setting an appointment in your calendar
I've met people who have not only come back to work with a new enthusiasm, but have managed to recalibrate their finances while away so the pressure was off, plus come back into brand new exciting roles that were perceived as a promotion or a stretch and with an increase of salary at the same time. That sounds like my kind of winning the lottery - and more likely.
Plus everyone you know will be envious of you. .
Why? Because things look different when you’re not looking down the barrel of stress, stretch targets and KPIs all the time. You never know, you just might like it!
#grownupgapyear #perspective #revitalise #recalibrate #renew #rebrand #refresh
Feeling like you're reliving Groundhog Day over and over again? Maybe it's your time to truly work out what it is you want to be when you grow up!
Why not book in a 30 min one on one phone call to learn how more?
1st in best dressed rules apply.
Stay strategic - after all, smart AND savvy is the name of this game