This week marked one year ago that I decided to take a break from full-time employment. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I was at a good spot to stop for awhile and think about it.
It was a planned break and one that Lee and I discussed and agreed on – planned but not completely mapped out. It was hard to define the break because I had a lot of questions and I knew that as I started to find answers, those answers would steer me in the direction I needed to go.
I’ve learned a lot in the past year and I’ve gone in several different directions to see what the road looked like. I still have some of my original questions to answer and I even have new questions to answer, so I’m certainly not “there” yet.
At one time, I envisioned a full career break or what some call a sabbatical. I read this great book Reboot Your Life: Energize Your Career and Life By Taking a Break and even had the chance to meet and talk to one of the authors, Catherine Allen (who happens to be a Mizzou grad!). I think everyone who is working – happily or unhappily – should read it and consider regular breaks, short or long.
I didn’t quite go the route of the full career break, although I did have several months late last summer and early fall when I only accepted a couple of small freelance projects and had the rest of the time to explore. This was my “reconnection stage” according to the book. I learned Pilates (for fitness and relaxation reasons), I learned to slow down a little, I got enough sleep, I went to the gym often and I took time to visit family and friends near and far. I also worked on saying no to opportunities that might have stroked my ego to be asked to do but didn’t really match up with what I want to spend my time doing.
This break is really all about giving myself the gift of time. To quote directly from the book: “the luxury of time to step back, relax, reassess and figure out where and what you really want to be or do.”
Somewhere in the fall I moved into the “exploration stage” and I’m happily still in this phase. Some of the highlights: I’ve learned how to use WordPress and I started blogging; I’ve spent time taking photographs, learning to use Photoshop better and started to organize my photo files; I’ve identified conferences to attend and attended several; I’ve started to research the travel and tourism industry, met travel bloggers and writers and worked on querying travel magazine editors.
I’ve also accepted more freelance writing and editing work, and I’ve really paid attention to what I like to write so that I can focus my efforts toward getting more of those assignments.
I’m very thankful that Lee and I have created a situation for ourselves where I am able to take this break in a non-pressure way – our electricity isn’t going to be shut off and we have health insurance through his employer. I’m also grateful for his support and understanding.
I consider this break to be taking a small risk, one that I believe will open up new writing opportunities and will eventually pay off for me and for us.
So, happy one year anniversary to me. I’m looking forward to another year full of possibilities.