As you consider taking a Midlife Gap Year, you may find your mind jumping from idea to idea with no clear trajectory for how to spend your time off. How will you make the most of your career break?
Of course, this answer will be different for everyone. We all find satisfaction in different experiences. But planning the Midlife Gap Year is part of the fulfillment.
You get to explore all of the possibilities, decide what your hiatus will look like, and determine how long it will last.
Begin with the end in mind
Many individuals find it useful to begin with the end in mind. In other words, visualize and map out what benefits you hope to achieve in your time off. Setting this intention can help steer you in the direction that will best fulfill that purpose.
For example, if your goal is to spend more quality time with family, you will have to consider your children’s school schedules, your spouse’s obligations, and if traveling or staying local is your best option. If your goal is to recharge and reset, a change of scenery and some time spent relaxing might be an important part of your plan. Or, perhaps you want to use your time philanthropically, in which case you may sign up to be a part of a charitable project in town or abroad.
Whatever your intentions, be clear and specific about your end goals. This will help you to maximize your time off and help you feel satisfied upon your return to work.
Explore the Possibilities
Once you have clear intentions about the goals for your Midlife Gap Year, you can begin crafting an “itinerary” of how you will spend that time to fulfill your purpose. Here are four ways to spend your hiatus that may help ignite some ideas :
You may wish to travel abroad. This trip could be for volunteer purposes or solely for leisure and enjoyment. Of course, the financial impact of this option is likely higher than staying at home, but that is the purpose of the planning process—to secure the hiatus you need at this stressful time in your life. You won’t want to look back on your Gap Year and wish you had set more funds aside to really take advantage of the time away. So whether it’s exploring the mountains of South America while you are still young and healthy, touring wineries in the French countryside, or volunteering your time in a third-world country, planning for the extra expenses will be well worth the payoff.
Furthering your education
This tends to be a popular option for lifelong learners who wouldn’t otherwise have the time to dedicate to continued education. There are a number of options here, as well. You could choose to spend a semester (or year) studying abroad or enroll in classes locally. Or, rather than take classes, you may decide to carve out time to attend some industry-specific conferences that could benefit your business when you return.
This could also be an opportune time for individuals considering a career change to “test drive” their life choice. Let’s say you are an attorney, for example, considering whether to switch gears and teach law rather than practice law. You could use this career break to teach a few classes and see if the choice feels right. Or, if you are in need of some extra credentials to set yourself up for your next career, your midlife gap year could be the time to earn those and prepare for a successful pivot.
Working part-time at home or abroad
Some individuals don’t feel comfortable or fulfilled unless they are bringing in some type of income, in which case working a “passion project” or job you enjoy may be just the ticket for how to spend your Midlife Gap Year. For example, if you are a photography enthusiast, you could host workshops around the globe, earning money for your expertise while also doing something you love.
Staying home with loved ones
Some families with school-aged children or elderly parents nearby may find it difficult to “up and leave” for six months or a year. Conversely, travel may be more stressful (and therefore less attractive and rewarding) for some individuals. In these situations, staying in town may be the ideal scenario.
Additionally, you could use this time to help one of your children excel in school, sign up to coach or mentor one of their clubs or sports teams, or simply plan some special time with your family enjoying the local activities you love most. You may even pepper in a few “staycations” to spice things up. After all, these “stay at home” options are growing in popularity in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chart the course
A Midlife Gap Year gives you the opportunity to take care of yourself, boost your health, nurture relationships, give back, expand your knowledge, or even create new habits. The most important consideration in planning how to spend your time away from your career is that you choose the options that are most rewarding to you, no matter what that looks like.
Is it time to make a life-changing decision? We are happy to help guide you to make your post-COVID lifestyle what you have been envisioning during this relentless period. We will help you work through the considerations and help you keep your long-term financial plan on track. Download our MidLife Gap Year Guidebook and schedule an introductory call with one of our advisors to explore the possibilities!