A career break is the new cool

Written by: Emma El-Karout  created on: 11-02-2020

A career break is the new cool.

The employment relationship as we currently understand it has been in place for 100 years, with a few tweaks here and there.

It was developed on the idea that people sold their time. Hence the laws entrenching 9 to 5, or 40 (ish) hours, or 5 to 6 days a week. Places like France and Norway are leading changes, but truth be told not much has broadly changed to the initial idea related to work. People selling their time.

So deeply embedded and handed down from generation to the next that we need to find a job and hold on to a job. Companies do the same with retention schemes intended to keep people working for them, for as long as the can. Its all time bound. Then performance systems are installed on top of this foundation. 

Our identities become infused with our jobs to the extent that changing jobs is one of the most stressful events in life, along with getting married, or moving house.

Today’s generation is turning things upside down. They are looking for a sense of purpose in what they do and also satisfies their passion.

The difference between Purpose and Passion is interesting.

Purpose is a reason for being – it’s your raison d’etre and is permanent. It's your alarm clock, that which makes you jump out of bed into action.

Purpose says, I need to handle my stuff.

Your purpose is permanent; it doesn't change over time. Your purpose in life is always the same.

An example could be – taking care of your family, providing for your family, living a successful life, making positive connections with others and enjoying those around you or traveling the world. A much bigger purpose is fighting inequality.

Passion on the other hand is an emotion. It is temporary and can change with time. Today it can be a certain house or car, tomorrow a very different house or car. 

Passion fuels your purpose. It drives you. But, it’s fleeting. 

Passion says I want to handle my stuff.

People invest their passion in their jobs in the traditional employment model, which is why they identify with them. Some over-zealous managers become unable to extricate their personal selves from their professional personas.  

If you ask someone, what do you do? The typical response is not I play golf or I’m a mom, I paint. They usually respond with a job title or a profession. I’m an accountant. I'm a head of purchasing. I am in business development.

Within this, changing jobs or careers becomes very personal, a massive decision. Yet to reduce the risk, we need to make sure that we are moving to a job that is aligned with our overall sense of purpose.

A lot of people today decide to move from full time jobs to freelancing and joining the platform economy. They want to own their time and be more involved as parents – which is their purpose in life. Present parenting.

We used to illustrate a career with the a ladder. Moving from one role to the other – within the same career stream.

Today careers look more like roller coasters. People are taking a year off or even two – to find their purpose so they can align their career to it.

Employers are more open to career gaps. Some progressive employers even encourage it. They believe a candidate who took time off to re-calibrate, re-energize, and find her purpose, is a candidate who is clear on what she wants and energized to take on a new role. 

Energized candidates are preferable to exhausted ones.

With life expectancy stretching to 100, and 45 becoming the new 25, we all have more time to take several career breaks. I see this as several retirement breaks as well.

Why wait until we are too old to retire - why not retire 3 to 4 times in our lifetime.

A new way of working, retiring and living.

Very soon businesses will start realizing that the age gap between employees is growing wider. Your typical senior could be 70 years old and just got off a career break.

A whole new dynamic - this will be fun to watch!