At some point, we all find ourselves craving a break in life. You know, a pause to rethink, reassemble, and redo. When your toxic boss pushes you to the point where you’ve had enough or when you seek a clear perspective, the one that only comes with serious contemplation, a break becomes pivotal to see past the foggy clouds. But the decision to really opt for a career break is never easy, is it? Especially in your 20s when all you’re expected to do is ‘hustle’ and ‘grind’ for a sorted future.
But career breaks happen more often than you think. People add these commas in their professional life’s trajectory to re-energise or begin a new chapter. Having said that, it also is a question of privilege, especially when you’re planning to take a break in the early stages of your career. You can actually take such breaks ONLY when you can ‘afford’ to take one. For many of us, financing days without a stable income is a primary concern.
So here are 14 people who’ve actually taken career breaks in their 20s, sharing how it turned out for them:
1. “I did it at 29, about to do it again at 35. Quit my job both times. If you’re able to keep yours, that’s a big plus. Go for it. As long as you have the funds to travel and get yourself back on your feet, you’ll be glad you did this.”
2. “There will always be more jobs however you wont always have your 20’s. I’m currently on a career break and travelling through Europe. As all things in life there is positives and negatives to my decision however I have grown from my travels, had fun experiences and have a clearer view of the future due to it.”
3. “I took a year break at 30. If you are in the financial position to do so I strongly suggest it! It worked well for me because I lived in an area with very low cost of living and my salary was healthy. I ended up working myself very hard through my 20s. I had met all of my professional goals but realized my personal goals were not met (meeting a parter, owning a home, having a close local friend group…) The year off really helped me decompress. I just started back up a new job and could not be happier with my decision to take the full year. I got to travel, see friends, play a backlog of games, plan out my financial future in better detail… When I got my new position the only question I got about my year of unemployment was ‘you could afford that?’ I was lucky enough too to move back to my home state and take the time to find the right job where I wanted to be located geographically.”
4. “I’m 24, never took more than 1 day off after grinding for 3-4 years. I just quit yesterday as my mental health was taking a serious toll. Taking some time off, will come back bouncing stronger. Who knows, may meet the loml.”
5. “It’s worked out well enough for me. I’d say a lot of people get bored and antsy after only a few weeks. Personally I kinda wish I was able to take even longer off, but I wanted to ensure that I had something to come back to. The last break I had was partly job-searching and working part-time so I wasn’t traveling as much.”
6. “When I was 25 I left my corporate job of three years to travel around the world for a year. Well, I will be 28 in less than a month and I haven’t stopped traveling yet (been a nomad for 2.5 years) I am so happy with my decision and long term travel has changed how I live my life. I can’t see myself going back corporate. Also, traveling does not have to be a huge expensive. My net worth has actually increased in the past 2.5 years, since I have some investments in the stock market.”
7. “I took 6 months off and studied Japanese. Working in Tokyo at the time. Best 6 months of my life. Met a girl I wanted to marry so had to get a new job, or else I might’ve just been a vagrant forever.”
8. “I took off about 7 full months after my first job, where I had worked for nearly 9 years, because I was incredibly unhappy and burned out. Six of those months turned out to be among the most productive of my 20s — I suddenly found the energy to work on projects with friends, get in shape, and travel, which ultimately helped me figure out and prepare for what I ended up doing next. My boss at the next job actually said that one of the reasons he hired me was because he admired the courage I had to leave a shitty situation with no concrete plan in place.”
9. “Strictly from a financial perspective, extended travel in your 20/30s is probably not the smartest idea; however, there can be value in traveling that may end up having indirect positive financial impacts later on. I took 6 months after undergrad to travel SE Asia (23 at the time). I hadn’t gotten a ‘real job’ yet but was able to save enough by living below my means and being extremely frugal. I was very fortunate in the fact that I didn’t have student loans. This helped A LOT. I applied to grad schools before I left, with the thought that I would matriculate when I returned, with about a month of readjustment (what I now know as post-travel depression!). This was the best thing I could have done for myself. I met life long friends that live in SE Asia and all over the world. On these longer trips you have time to really experience the culture.”
10. “One of my friends is a software engineer and he constantly takes big breaks in employment. He’s 26 now, and in total has taken 1 year off since graduating. Every time he leaves a job, he takes a few months off. Part of that time is used to relax, part of it is to job hunt, and yet another part is the time between getting an offer and actually starting. I think it’s great he takes these breaks between positions because when he starts a new job, he’s running at 150% since he’s refreshed and eager to work again given his long break.”
11. “I took a 6 month break to live aboard and “volunteer” when I was around 28. It has made for an awesome resume talking point. I have made a ton of mistakes in my career and life, but this was not one of them.”
12. “I was involuntarily unemployed for around three months. It’s not quite the same thing, but it’s definitely stressful if you aren’t financially independent yet and don’t know whether you’ll be able to find a new job and you’re getting rejection after rejection. I’d recommend not doing it unless you have a offer lined up for sure.”
13. “24 here and about to quit a high paying job in a finance/corporate role without anything lined up. Sometimes life is too short and trading my time, sanity, and happiness from the money just isn’t worth it. I’m confident enough in myself and thankfully have saved well enough to be fine in the short term.”
14. “I quit my first job, took two months off before the next one, and it was a great way to unwind. In all honesty, as someone who has hired many people, taking a year off in your 20s/30s is a yellow flag on a resume. It isn’t a show stopper, but people will definitely inquire. Just be ready with an answer that is both authentic and reflects positively on you.”
Eventually, many factors come into play for an independent person to cut off their source of income without any backups. Regardless, it’s a personal decision to make, and it can be life-changing if the time off is utilised meaningfully.
Also Read: 11 Telltale Signs You Need A Career Break