So what did I get out of my year? Time for myself, time to relax and time to do many things I’d always wanted to do. Physically I’m fitter and healthier than I have been since I was in my teens. Simply sleeping more, leading a much less frenetic life and eating better was a big part of it. Before I had to wear glasses – my optician told me that as I was getting older, the muscles around my eyes got tired more easily and needed the extra help. But I haven’t touched my glasses since I left work well over a year ago.
Having so much more time to spend together and do so many things with my girlfriend refreshed our relationship; it was more like dating in your 20s. It has taken our relationship to another level: now we have a daughter and are soon to be married.
I spent a lot more money than I originally planned and we could have avoided some expensive (and polluting) trips. But since my return I feel more settled and at ease in my job. I have a renewed enthusiasm for work. Switching to a new department has given my career a real boost and opened up many new opportunities. I have a much clearer vision of why I am working and what I want to get out of it and I don’t resent the time I have to devote to it. Many of the activities during my year off developed skills that will benefit my employer directly.
In many ways my life now is identical to how it was before I left – but I have these tremendous memories and a wealth of new experiences and skills to draw on.
I’d encourage anyone who has the chance, to take a career break … and I won’t hesitate to do it again myself.