Until November 2013, I was leading a very busy life as a technology consultant. I traveled for work between Mondays and Thursdays, worked long hours and ate out a LOT. My life revolved mostly around work and I found that while I had the best co-workers, unlimited support from my husband and family and a very promising career ahead of me, I always felt like I was missing out on something. This nagging suspicion always followed me in the last 7 years since I’ve been out of college. Last summer, I found that it had ballooned into a giant cloud of discontent that just refused to go away. I had never even considered the option to just quit and see what’s out there until my husband, Prateek suggested it to me.
That’s when I started to actively think about taking a break. I think for about 4 months, all I ever did on my own free time was watch videos and read about people on career breaks. I also started to bookmark ideas for what I would do on such a break. During this time, I came across some amazing, inspiring and even some funny stories that helped making this decision a lot easier. Here are a few of them:
- The Power of Time Off – Stefan Sagmeister’s TED talk on not waiting for retirement for life to begin.
- The Joy of Less – Pico Iyer’s inspiring decision to choose freedom over security.
- The Power of Vulnerability – Brené Brown’s TED talk on the importance of the courage to be vulnerable.
- This sarcastic article on The Onion about what to do when you find your passion.
- This beautiful song by composer A.R. Rahman about the purpose of one’s life. The song is in Tamil – I found a translation here.
Aside from inspiration, what also helped me make this decision is to write down my intentions for leaving my job, if it was feasible to do so and also my plans for the future. This helped me convince myself that I was not doing this on a whim and that I had thought this decision through from all possible angles. This is the analytical, mind mapping, Minto pyramid-loving side of me 🙂
When I first announced my decision to quit full time work and take time off, I found a lot of support among friends, coworkers, managers and family (both immediate and extended). In fact, I doubt I would have been able to make such a crazy decision without all their kind words and encouragement. I was amused though, by the number of people who assumed that I was pregnant or assumed that I was doing this to spend more time with my husband.
Making a decision to pause a career is not an easy one. The world is often not very forgiving to people who choose to put themselves ahead of everything else in their life – The good news is that you do not need anyone’s forgiveness or permission or blessing to be content with your life. If you’re happy on a day to day basis (whether it is being insanely busy on a job or having nothing to do at home) that’s all that matters.