There is no such thing as a perfect career break

This time last year was my final day at the advertising agency I had spent the past five years of my career. First as an Integrated Executive Business Director, headhunted to set up and oversee the running of a multi-million-rand integrated financial services account, then as the Deputy Managing Director. And as I sit here celebrating 12 months of what I have labelled on LinkedIn a /  here are 3 things I have learnt during this time off:

1. There is no such thing as a perfect career break

When I first decided to take this break, I had a plan…

  1. Recover from burnout
  2. Figure out what my next career move is
  3. Make sure that my boyfriend style fit jeans fit as a boyfriend style versus tight and skinny
  4. Start my own podcast and be consistent with regards to episode production
  5. Further my education and bag a specific professional designation

I only managed to achieve or rather execute on two and half of the above action points. 50% is a pass right? A win is a win, as the TikTok trend goes. But that is not the lesson here. The lesson here is that I don’t think you can perfectly plot out and plan a career break, especially one that is intertwined with burnout or something similar.

2.Recovering from burnout takes longer than you think…

The fact that I thought I could set a deadline to have recovered from my burnout by end of March 2022, should be enough proof to support my disclaimer that I am by no means a qualified mental health-related practitioner. So please take this as my experience…

March came and went and I was still feeling exhausted, anxious and unmotivated. Fast forward to December 2022, and I am only now starting to really feel like myself again. I guess, what I am saying is…“these things take time,” and I am aware, as I say this, that time is not something everyone has the privilege and luxury of having. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you are able to change your circumstance to address your burnout, give yourself the grace and time to do so.

3. Don’t let your lack of productivity make you feel some type of way

As an insecure overachiever, I tend to measure my self worth according to my productivity and what I am able to achieve. So you can imagine, how hard it was to do nothing and feel like I was a something in this world. Whilst there are many different reasons why one might take a career break that aren’t necessarily tied to burnout, I still think it’s important to actually take the “break” in career break seriously.

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