A gap year, also known as a sabbatical year, is the time off that students and professionals take before applying to colleges and working in offices. It can extend from a few months to a year. Usually, people take this break to rest, do recreational activities like gain knowledge, travel, pursue short-term courses, take personality development classes, seek career guidance, and more. In some situations, people take a gap year due to financial reasons.

Are gap years cool?

A gap year helps you to recover from burnout and thus acts as a reboot for your brain. Sometimes, students take a gap year to figure out which career opportunities they want to pursue. So yes, gap years are cool if you use them the way your health and career require.

Taking a sabbatical is becoming a trend and gaining popularity as mental health awareness is gaining momentum. Fortunately, people are now becoming more conscious about their mental health and are willing to take a break to recover from excess stress.

Who can take a gap year?

Anyone can take a gap year at any point in life, be it a student about to start college or a professional taking a break from the monotonous 9-5 life. According to a recent study, two prominent reasons for gap years were found: prolonged pressure and stress, or inability to discover themselves. A gap year helps you know yourself better, unwind, learn new things, and gain knowledge in a field of interest. Before thinking of taking a gap year, you should have a strong sense of clarity as to what you want to explore and learn, and at what pace. If a gap year is taken lightly or spent aimlessly, no positive outcome will come out of it.

Career gap: using your time and opportunities

There are vast options that you can explore in a gap year. A career gap can be best used by doing something creative, focusing on fitness, and indulging in self-discovery. A career gap is the best time to discover yourself. You can start by taking up one of your long-lost interests. If you are a music enthusiast, pick up a musical instrument or practice vocals. If you want to learn a new craft, you can join a class that you always wanted to. If you have not travelled in a while, pack your backpack and travel to unexplored destinations, taking the road less travelled. You can even volunteer in a project abroad which allows you to travel and work simultaneously. There are many options if you really want to use your career gap well. Just start exploring your hidden talents and take the break you deserve.

Pros and cons of a gap year:

Just like every other aspect of life, there are pros and cons of taking a gap year. Let’s explore the positives of this journey:

  • A fresh start: Taking a gap year can be beneficial for the mind and overall health. Studies show that taking a long break once in a while can boost creativity and increase performance. It is seen that people who utilize gap years to gain knowledge and enhance creativity are better at decision making and management.
  • Gain knowledge and experience: A gap year has the potential to push you forward in life. Taking a break with an aim to learn something makes you reliable as well as gives you a feeling of self-accomplishment.
  • Amplify your prospects: Learning new skills, languages, art, music, and crafts all enhance your prospects of getting a better job. They can create a great impression on your resume or portfolio. Accumulating new experiences leads to personal growth and satisfaction.

While there are compelling benefits of taking a gap year, let’s have a look at the flip side too:

  • High chances of wasting time: It so happens that people plan a lot of things that they wish to do during a gap year, but motivation may fade out gradually, and one may end up doing nothing throughout the year. This can trigger feelings of guilt and lead to more frustration than before the break.
  • Heavy on the pocket: While it sounds exciting to take a gap year, travel, join art and music classes, or take up new hobbies, one should never forget that it can also be very expensive. A well-planned gap year keeping financials in mind is advisable for career growth and expansion.
  • Comparing growth with friends: While taking a gap year, one should always remember that everyone’s life is different. It is pointless to compare your life with that of your friends or relatives. People who take a gap year are often looked down upon. At the same time, people on sabbatical also look at their friends’ lives and fall into the comparison trap. This only creates a loop of negativity and you may lose track of why you took a break in the first place.

During a gap year, one usually looks for self-growth, self-actualization, and personal development. However, it is also important to remember that during a gap year, your productivity may vary each day. It helps to have a timetable with an objective in mind, but it is completely alright to not burden yourself with too many to-do lists. The secret to a successful career gap is to find the perfect balance between doing anything, everything, and nothing. And, as soon as you find that, a gap year can be equally fruitful for your career as other years of work or study.

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