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Need to boost your confidence? Try a career break!

by Rachel Morgan-Trimmer

Rachel, on her career break

Rachel, on her career break

I got off the boat, which was moored to a Thai island, and walked up the path towards my hut. I heard one of the diving instructors behind me, saying 'She should go back in the water - because she's good'. It was with a great shock I realised they were talking about me.

This was about the mid-point of my career break. I was travelling around the world and on a whim, decided to do a diving course. I hadn't been able to dive that day due to a bad case of seasickness, and was secretly planning never to get back on a boat again, until I overheard the instructor. It was the first time in my life anyone had said I was good at a sport!

Is there something you wish you were good at? Maybe leading a team of people, or teaching a group a new skill? Perhaps, like me, you wish you were more sporty, or maybe you just feel you could do with a challenge to face up to.

A career break is a perfect way to try out new things. You're away from home so you're already in a more confident frame of mind, ready to tackle something different. There's no big time commitment - you're not signing up to a new job. And if it doesn't work out, you've still had a great learning experience, probably met some great new people and you can go onto the next thing without any regrets.

Women account for 60% of career breakers and their breaks last anything from 2 weeks to 2 years. Some choose to leave their jobs and get a new one on their return, and others negotiate a sabbatical with their employer (many employers now have formal sabbatical policies).

Career breaking women find that the skills they develop on their career breaks, in volunteering, training, or simply adventurous travel, make them a better employee when they return. Not only can they prove they can solve problems, communicate effectively and be part of a team, they also show they have the courage to make a life-changing decision.

A lack of confidence is something that plagues many women, both in their professional and personal lives. Career breakers (both male and female) consistently report that their confidence levels soar while on a career break - and stay high once they return.

As for me, I did get back on the boat the next day, and I got my diving certificate. It's one of many things I can now say proudly, that I'm good at.

Rachel Morgan-Trimmer founded The Career Break Site ( after taking her own career break at the age of 29 and finding there was very little information for people like her. Despite a fear of flying, she left her job in the gap year industry to go on a round-the-world trip, and set up her advisory service on her return.

Comments for Need to boost your confidence? Try a career break!

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Apr 01, 2010
Fueling daydreams
by: Anonymous

Helpful and amusing. I liked this little article, given fuel to my daydreams

Apr 02, 2010
Confidence and Courage
by: Anonymous

Good for you for getting back in the water! It must have taken a certain amount of confidence and courage for you to get out there on the road, in the first place, though. How did you make that leap and what were the factors that led you to going the career break route?

Apr 06, 2010
Travelling as 'Personal and Professional Development'
by: Anonymous

'Not only can they prove they can solve problems, communicate effectively and be part of a team, they also show they have the courage to make a life-changing decision'

If I ever needed any more reasons to get out there and see the world, here's one that my boss might agree with too!

Apr 07, 2010
Free Career Break eBook!
by: Helen


Just found this survey, which is a great start to considering a career break and you get a free eBook too! Only takes a few minutes.

Apr 08, 2010
It's the best thing I ever did!
by: Leyla

I love this story - it reminds me of my own experience... I decided I needed a short career break about ten years ago and wanted to travel on my own a bit. So I quit my job and took off to South Africa, not quite knowing what to expect.

It was the most important decision I'd ever taken. My entourage wasn't hugely supportive - there was a lot of: you've got a great job, you'll never find work again, you're too old (I was 43 then), you're a woman, what if you get sick, it isn't safe... I heard it all.

I took off anyway for what I thought was going to be a six-month trip. I returned three year and 26 countries later!

It was the most self-affirming thing I'd ever done. I gained confidence, I learned to adapt to situations that would have stumped me earlier, I developed a 'can-do' mentality, and I realized that I could survive on what I could carry in my backpack.

Oh, and when I returned home, I found an even better job than the one I'd left. I was in far better physical shape, and on a personal level I was happier and stronger than I'd ever been.

So... if you're looking for someone to discourage you from taking a career break... that won't be me!

Sep 22, 2010
by: Jill

That you went around on the world by yourself was brave and showed an inner strength in you waiting to come out. Travelling, meeting new people, taking on fresh challenges, whether you are on your own or with a partner/friend helps us to discover our hidden capabilities, appreciate other people and live life to the full. I think what you are doing through your website helping others to achieve what you have is a great way to live.

Sep 22, 2010
Courage to travel solo
by: Leyla

Actually, the courage comes later! First came the rebellion, especially when everyone kept saying 'don't'! Then I got caught up in all the details of departure - job, appartment, car, friends, family, paperwork - so I didn't really stop to think. If I had I probably would have run screaming... The courage grew as I traveled, especially each time I was fed up, lonely, broke (all of these were short-lived though) and decided to keep going, often through pride and not wanting to prove everyone right. Staying on the road was the right decision for me, and I'm grateful I didn't give in to the fears and turn back.

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