Putting Your Career on “Pause”

It would be nice if everyone had the luxury of a significant source of second income, or some hefty savings, or a nice severance package – because sometimes when a job comes to an end, it’s nice to decompress for a while and re-think career direction.

A role you took on 5 years ago may not really be ideal any more, nor may the current company be the best source of new opportunities. Sometimes, an entire shift to a different field of endeavor is in order.

pauseI was talking with someone a few weeks back who is performing well in his company role – he’s climbed the ladder and been a good corporate citizen; but the more we talked, the more it seemed obvious that the ideal place for him would be in an entrepreneurial endeavor. Well, eventually, that is (the time isn’t right yet – young children and all that).

It’s not easy to do this when you’re in your prime earning years, maybe with a family and hefty living expenses. But we often end up in our thirties and forties wondering about the treadmill we’re on. We may be evolving out of old paths and questioning the inner narratives we once embraced. That’s a sign of health, and life, actually. Especially if we can discover a more fulfilling place to be.

One of my friends is taking a deliberate sabbatical from inside-corporate work, doing contract work while discovering a more ideal role (which may or may not be corporate). The pause allows for new thinking and fresh counsel, and a wider search than just grabbing the next job that pays the bills and has a one-step-up title.

Have you ever had a chance to pause for a few months, a year, or even longer? What did you learn from your sabbatical? How did the time away re-shape your career thinking?

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