Taking Time Off? 10 Must Dos

A friend of mine is taking a 12-month work break soon. As exciting as this opportunity sounds, for the person doing it, it is normally full of unease, with more questions that answers. What if it is a mistake? What if I miss work? Will this affect my career? How will I afford this time off? What will I do?

Having lived through this situation, he was seeking my “advice” and over a few drinks, I came up with a list of 10 things he should do during his time off. From experience, there are probably another 20 or 30 things that warrant mentioning but I think a list of 40 items would probably see him rushing back to work for some rest!

  1. Destroy Your Existing Routine – you are now free so the routine you have been living with for the last “x” number of years can quite frankly, be destroyed. No bones about it, destroyed is the right word to use here. It is raw, it is emotional, it is an “in your face” action that tells you, “that was then, this is now. It is an overt act and it is liberating.
  2. Have Dinner With Your Family and Friends – for many of us, this is a luxury and one we only get on weekends. Try to do it every night, cook, set the table, chat, discuss, debate, clean up and get to know more about these very important people in your life and give them an opportunity for them to get to know you better. Connect.
  3. Learn – ideally away from your area of expertise. Pick a language, a skill, something with your brain or your hands or both, an area that is completely new for you but you have always had an interest in doing. You have time and little excuses.
  4. Get Fit – you know you should and you have all the time in the world. So just get on with it.
  5. Help Others – this can mean so many different things, from “hands-on” working with charities, to coaching or managing your daughter’s soccer team, to chatting to people who need a sympathetic ear to creating, building and growing a community. Help is needed and you can do it.
  6. Get Paid – a good friend of mine gave me this advice when I took my time off. Do something and get paid for it, regardless of the amount. It will do a lot for your psychology and how you feel about yourself. Sure, it is unlikely to match the pay packet you are leaving but that is not the point.
  7. Ground Yourself – live close to a beach? Walk on the sand, swim in the ocean. Live close to a mountain? Climb it. Have a park nearby? Walk it. You get the drill. Put your five senses (*) to nature and take notice of where you are and the beauty and immensity of it all. Be humbled. * Thinking about it, taste may not be an entirely appropriate sense to explore all the time.
  8. Work on a New Elevator Pitch – now you may be going back to work in 12-months time or you may choose to never go back or do something completely different. In 30-seconds, who are you now? Why did you take this time off? What has it given you?
  9. Build a New Routine – take all of the above and build a new and very different routine, one that says, “this is now.”
  10. Be Thankful – whatever is driving you to take this opportunity, be thankful for it. This time is precious and inevitably you will realise that this opportunity is one that everyone should have. Thank you.

These are not dramatic “bucket-list” type things, am sure we all have these and some more reachable than others. By all means, try to fit some of those in.

My list of 10 are pretty basic but you know what they say,

Simple n’est pas forcement facile.

You need to work at them and cherish them and allow them to build into your life.

You have a great opportunity coming up, so embrace it, love it and grow with it. Enjoy it!

  • Quote by Paul Carvel, “The simple, is not necessarily easy.”

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