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.

Thithi Nteta
  • Nomsa Masoka
    Posted at 04:04h, 16 February Reply

    Wow reading this gave me some comfort. This is where i am finding myself in 2023. My mind knows there is so much to do but my body won’t comply. I am always doing a lot and pouring into many people’s cups. I have never allowed myself just to sit still and have others pour into me. I am depleted. So just like you, i tend to measure myself based on my productivity. I will be taking a career break this year

    • travelgirlboss
      Posted at 15:36h, 28 February Reply

      Hey Nomsa… I think people like us, who measure ourselves based on our productivity really struggle to give ourselves grace. We struggle to understand and have empathy for ourselves. I really hope you find the strength to look at yourself as more than what you do, what you can do for others and all that other stuff. We are totally enough and deserve to rest, regroup and stuff. Let me know how your career break goes. Here for you in the name of self care xx

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