COVID-19 continues to have a wide-ranging impact on business, our economy, and our everyday lives. But the one lesser-discussed impact could be the most difficult to deal with—the personal one. The pandemic’s upheaval has escalated life’s stresses for many business owners, making a Midlife Gap Year all the more attractive.

As you contemplate the concept of an extended break, you may wonder if the time and fiscal commitments are worth the investment. So let’s take a look at some of the reasons you might consider taking time off and the benefits of a Midlife Gap Year for your overall health and well-being.

  1. Immediate stress relief

Do you feel as if you have grown less happy over the past several years? If so, research indicates that you are not alone. Research over the last decade built on The U- Bend of Life[i] points to age 47.2 as the low point for happiness. Many people in this life stage are engaged in a challenging career, have children entering the teenage years and aging parents, and feel overwhelmed knowing that relief of retirement is realistically still fifteen to twenty years away.

While this happiness curve is a natural phenomenon, you can reduce its damaging impact by taking control of your life and engaging in activities that are rewarding and fulfilling to you. The Midlife Gap Year provides a prime window of opportunity where you can plan to do just that. Whether giving back to the community is what fills your cup or mapping out your next career trajectory, the Gap Year can help you rebuild a sense of happiness and satisfaction in your otherwise hurried and stressful life.

  1. Stave off burnout

Just last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a huge stride in recognizing workplace burnout as a very real, potentially injurious condition. In May 2019, they added burnout to its repertoire of  “occupational phenomena” and define it as “[A] syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It is characterized by “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and/or reduced professional efficacy.”

Of course, none of these feelings are conducive to running your business to your best ability. Oftentimes, it is the inability to detach from work that can lead to burn-out. But, moving away from the workspace and disengaging from the demands of the job can make us more resilient in the face of stress, a benefit for both your well-being and productivity.[ii]

  1. Focus on strengthening personal relationships

Extensive research shows it is strong relationships in our life that keep us happier and healthier. Unfortunately, the rigorous time and energy demands of owning a business can cause business owners to unintentionally push their most valuable relationships to the backburner. Even though you may feel added pressure in your highest earning years to focus on work, it’s important to step back and reconnect with the individuals in your life that make it all worthwhile.

A Midlife Gap Year can provide a more planned period of quality time for you to foster and deepen your relationships with your children, your spouse, and those who mean the most to you. Life can change in an instant and time with loved ones is something no one can replace.

  1. Re-energize for the final career stretch before retirement

 Business owners may need a midlife career break to re-energize more than most, but are also more reluctant to take it. Of course, it is natural to feel apprehensive about taking a step back when much of your net worth is tied up in your business.

But, isn’t one of the perks of owning your own business supposed to be the freedom to make your own schedule?

We often take pride in being hard-working  and aren’t accustomed to taking extended leaves from the workforce; but that may be changing We believe that sacrificing time off will help us to get ahead. However, it is proven that taking time off actually makes you a better, more productive worker and leader in the long run. It can also have positive impacts on your health, creativity , engagement, marital relationships, and overall workplace satisfaction.

Taking a break from your career gives you a chance to refocus, recharge your batteries, and prepare for the final years (or decades) of your career. The improved energy and zeal you’ll bring back to the workplace will give you the boost you need to make it through to full retirement, or maybe even to your next Gap Year.

Weighing the benefits of a Midlife Gap Year

Of course, whenever we consider making a big financial move like taking an extended break, we have to weigh the merits with the trade-offs. You may have to work a few extra years or delay a major purchase to make your Gap Year a reality, but the lasting benefits can be worth the investment.

Some have a clear notion of why a Midlife Gap Year could benefit them while others just know they need a break. In either case, the first step is to explore what you want to accomplish during this time and plan out what will make your break a success.

Ready to take the first step? Let’s connect.

The Advisory Group San Francisco has the experience and resources to help you to prepare, plan, and implement this midlife hiatus. We’ll also guide you through the trade-offs to consider keeping your long-term financial plan on track.  Schedule a meeting with us today to start discussing your possibilities.

[i] https://www.nber.org/papers/w26641 18 December 2020

[ii] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/job.1924/abstract 10 December 2020