How to Spend a Year Off from Work

How to Spend your year off from workYou are finally ready to take a year off from your job and you are now trying to figure out what are you going to do with this new found freedom. Your first week off from work will be easy. There are errands to run, things to be fixed around the house, and TV shows to catch up on. It’s the second week where managing your time becomes difficult.

 First, you sleep in a little later. Then your showers start happening in the afternoon instead of the morning. Eventually, the only thing you have to accomplish during the entire day is going to the post office, and you just can’t seem to get there.

Taking an entire year off from your current job can be a life-altering experience, but only if you are prepared for it. Too much of a good thing can lead to disaster if you don’t carefully plan what you want to achieve, and how you are going to manage the most challenging aspect of all…yourself.

You won’t take a year off from work because you have the answer for what you want to do next with your life, you take time off to find the answer.

Change Careers

If you’re reading an article about taking a year off from work, you are likely wondering if your current profession is a long-term fit for you. Maybe you no longer find your work challenging, you are interested in starting your own business, or your boss is a jerk. Sometimes we feel stuck in a rut and just need a change.

 Perhaps the change you are seeking isn’t a new career at all, but simply a change in employer. You may still enjoy what you do for a living deep down but have run out of the opportunity for advancement. Time away from work can be an excellent opportunity to explore other employment opportunities within your current profession.

Sometimes a change of scenery won’t do the trick, however, and you need to start over from scratch. Moving from accounting to medical sales won’t happen overnight. You will need time to acquire new skills, pad your resume, and network your way into an industry where you don’t have any connections. Heck, with a year off, you can even take on an unpaid internship somewhere!

The dream career change for many is to start their own business. You can probably taste the freedom right now. No more unrealistic sales goals, no more Nina from corporate accounts payable, and no more daily commute! Who wouldn’t want that?

If you know what you want the next phase of your career to look like, why make it a “side hustle?” Make it your main hustle and start laying the groundwork to make the move today.

Make an Impact

What good is taking a year off if you can’t help others? You are already helping other people, but not at the intensity or impact that you have always wanted to. Helping other people is an addiction. If you are lucky, you will replace one of your unfortunate vices with the need to be available for others.

Volunteering is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of helping others. The fantastic non-profit sector in the US provides scores of opportunities if you know where to look. Choosing a non-profit to volunteer at is excellent because there is no wrong answer. Whether you like young people, older people, sick people, or animals, there is a charity out there who needs your help. Even those who prefer to be left alone like me can find a way to contribute to small groups or online.

Approaching a formal non-profit isn’t the only way to help others. The majority of the people in this country who need assistance never engage with a non-profit to formally request it (I don’t have evidence to back that up, but it has to be true). You don’t need to fill out a five-page volunteer application to be a good person, simply find someone who is struggling and lend them a hand.

You probably already have someone in mind. Perhaps you saw a struggling single mother on Facebook who is looking for a cheap washer and dryer. Maybe your deodorant challenged neighbor can’t figure out how to pull weeds. It doesn’t matter who or what. The “who, what, and when” are “you, helping, and now,” that is all that matters.

If you can’t decide where to start, then talk to your friends and family about your intentions. If you don’t have any friends or family, let them know that you are the one that needs help. Regardless, if you put out the word that you are interested in focusing on someone other than yourself (which is easier said than done), opportunities will find you. It may sound a little out there but attempt great things, and great things will find you.


Getting out of your rut is about more than your career or giving back to your community. It’s about people. Transitioning to the next phase of your life is about the new relationships you will form, or the existing ones you will strengthen.

Which family members have you drifted away from? Were you close to someone that you no longer talk to regularly? It’s normal to feel that life has become so busy that you are no longer the daughter, son, brother, or cousin you want to be.

You don’t have to be best friends with everyone just because they are family. Making small talk about youth sports with your druncle is plenty of interaction at Thanksgiving. But there are likely family members you used to be close to who you just never see anymore. Having time away from work allows you to stop putting off that phone call or lunch that is long overdue.

With each year busier than the last, its likely good friends have gone by the wayside. Sometimes, losing contact is a good thing (aren’t I a little old to be shotgunning beers?) Other times, you simply drifted away from someone who you have shared history with, who was a positive influence on your life.

If you are looking to get out of your rut, it starts with people. Who can help you be the person you want to be every single day? Who can motivate you to keep going when times get tough? Who shares your messed-up sense of humor and likes to laugh when people fall in public? You already know the answer, place these people front and center in your life.

Taking a year off from work can be a life-changing experience, or it can be a colossal waste of time. If you want to make it the former, the key is to keep moving. Move fast, move deliberately, and move out of your rut