Finding a healthy work-life balance is difficult in today’s fast-paced society, especially for successful business owners and leaders in the middle stages of their lives. The unrelenting time demands of work, raising a family, and nearing closer to your retirement horizon can easily lead to workplace burnout and/or personal dissatisfaction. Combine these stressors with living in a pandemic-ridden nation struggling to search for a viable health solution and keep the economy afloat and you may find yourself looking for a break, even though retirement is likely still 15-20 years away.
How and when can you expect some relief? Well, they say that conflict can lead to breakthrough and need can spur innovation. Today, this is exactly where the Midlife Gap Year comes into play. But, planning your Midlife Gap Year can take time. In some cases, you need a couple years of preparation and coordinating to get it right. Why not take advantage of this constrained pandemic environment to prepare your post pandemic plan now?
The Midlife Gap Year Explained
Essentially, the Midlife Gap Year is a planned sabbatical away from the pressures of work. The philosophy behind it is similar to the gap year many high school graduates take to travel before beginning their post-secondary education. It is a break between life stages. As a business owner or leader, more specifically, the break serves as a time you can refresh, recharge, and spend some quality time with your loved ones. Whether you choose to travel or stay put is completely up to you. The break—however you choose to spend it—should help you to slow down, be more present, and enjoy the things that are most important to you.
Your structured break from work could last anywhere from six weeks to two years and can consist of a variety of activities in between. Many clients like to think of it as a mini-retirement that helps them make it through to the home stretch of a full retirement.
Of course, one of the most pressing concerns is often how you can afford to take the time off and still stay on track to reach your financial goals. Business owners, in particular, struggle with the idea of “pressing pause” for a hiatus because of the persistent pressures they feel to continue to grow their business day in and day out. But, the reality is that many mid-lifers could benefit from the break to grow personally, which in turn helps them to be more successful and productive once they return to work.
The New Retirement Landscape
Consider how the current retirement planning landscape has changed. With individuals living longer than ever before, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that your retirement could last twenty-five, thirty, or even forty years as opposed to the fifteen to twenty years that retirees could expect in decades past. You may be thinking—and naturally so—a longer retirement translates into a longer period of time where I have to generate a predictable income from my resources. There is no way I can afford this time off and still reach all my financial milestones!
While this is a logical and prudent approach to the financial side of the coin, the other side is that since people are remaining healthier longer, they are working later in life than their parents or grandparents did. In general, mid-lifers now have the mental and physical capabilities to work well into their sixties and seventies. What used to be thirty or forty year career sprints are now fifty to sixty year marathons.
Of course, working later in life has many benefits. It helps to fulfill personal, social, psychological, and emotional needs that will have to be replaced in new ways in retirement, but it also means that you could have a much longer career span. The Midlife Gap Year can help you sustain your energy and prepare for the “second-leg” of the career race so you don’t burnout early.
The Solution to Midlife Malaise
As lavish as this career break may sound, it could be just what the COVID-affected mid-lifers need to balance the personal and the professional, time and money. Not sure that taking a whole year or two off would work for yourself and your family? Consider an alternative solution, such as taking Fridays off, structuring three to four weeks off sporadically throughout the year, or even working abroad for an extended period of time. Sometimes a simple change in scenery can be enough to refresh your spirit and zeal for many areas of your life, including personal relationships and, yes, even work.
At The Advisory Group, we specialize in working with business owners and leaders who are immersed in the “midlife” experience and struggle to balance fulfillment, freedom, and success. We help clients just like you align their finances in such a way that allows them to take a step back and refocus on the people and priorities that are most important to them.
Interested in learning if a Midlife Gap Year could be right for you? Download our exclusive guide here. If you need more assistance, we’d be happy to help. Schedule an introductory call with one of our advisors today and we can walk you through the process.