Do you think about quitting your job and starting to travel but you are afraid that it will negatively influence your professional life? A few years ago a career break was still treated as some sort of irresponsible behaviour. But recently it has become more and more socially accepted and more people decide to quit their job and chase a dream of becoming a full-time traveller.
I did the same in 2012. I had a plan to travel for three months around South East Asia and have a break from work. A year before I graduated from the University, I worked full time in an advertising agency and… I felt exhausted. But I was also afraid. Somewhere in the back of my head, I feared that after a break, returning to reality won’t be easy at all. Finding a job as a graphic designer was already difficult enough. But to be honest, I had no idea how much this decision would actually change my professional life.
Many of you probably have the same fear while thinking of a career break or of quitting a job. But I truly believe that travel can really benefit your work and help you to find the right path. To make it more clear for you, here I am sharing a few lessons I learned during my travels.
Standing on the shoulders of giants
Coming from a quite conservative background it wasn’t a surprise that a perspective of a career break made me hesitant. When all the people around you tell you that it’s the worst decision you can possibly make, you start to wonder. But once I started, travels changed my point of view and taught me that there is no one way of living. I met people who quit their jobs, sold their belongings and made a choice. Probably for many of them, it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t even spontaneous. But they took a step towards their dreams. The step that is crucial for every journey.
Sitting on Thai beach, sipping a cold beer. The night was warm and long, full of noises from sketchy clubs. My stay was coming to an end. In a few days, I was going to be on my way back to Poland. I was devastated.
The Australian fellow sitting next to me just told a story of how he had moved to this paradise island and started to teach diving. He lived in a hut just at the edge of the jungle with his dog.
Listening to his story made me think. If he managed to change his life why not me? I think that was really the first time when I thought that the world has more to offer than what I knew so far.
Reasons why you should take a career break
Travelling can be very beneficial. Not many people know it can also benefit your future career. This is why you should take a break from work and start travelling now.
Meeting other people
One of the ultimate benefits of travelling is meeting people and listening to their stories. Knowing how others managed to change their lives can push you in the right direction and let you make bolder decisions. So when you struggle to quit your job, change your career path or make investments, knowing how others cope with similar problems can empower you and show you a new perspective.
Career break helps you to get to know yourself better
I remember my first trip abroad. I was visiting my sister in London and I was scared like featherless chicken. First time on the plane, far away from home, the first time in a big city with my poor English? Seriously? What a joke!
I thought if I get lost I wouldn’t be able to find my way back home. I was afraid if someone speaks to me I wouldn’t understand… So many thoughts, so much fear.
Fear was following me everywhere I went for many, many years. I was solo travelling in Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia. I visited Morocco even when everyone told me I was crazy to go there alone. Every time I felt a ball of fear in my stomach. What’s the difference now, you may ask? During years of travels, I learned how strong I am. I learned that I am able to find the solution to almost every situation. Even when in the middle of the night I learn my hostel doesn’t exist, I end up with no money left on foreigner land, I am still able to sort things out and then laugh the whole thing off.
Facing fear and diving deep inside yourself during the travel can teach you how to cope with stress also when running your own business. It gives you the power to face your new potential boss during a job interview. You will know where to look for answers, how to solve problems and how to act in intense situations. But most of all, it will show you that you can do whatever you like and you have all it needs to succeed.
It improves your communication skills
For many people, one of the reasons they don’t travel is a lack of language knowledge. Nowadays English is an international language and it helps to communicate with others and to find needed information.
When I started travelling my English was bad and I was too afraid to speak. I thought that every time I opened my mouth I sounded foolish. So I didn’t open my mouth too often.
It didn’t take me much to understand that language is just a tool to connect with others and more important than your perfect grammar are intentions and a smile. Travelling slowly helps you to understand more and be more open to other people. Not only you can learn more languages on the way but also you know how to make connections with almost every single person. I don’t have to tell you, how useful it is in the official meetings and when talking with your clients?
Better organization skills
Would you be surprised if I tell you that travelling can help you master your management skills? On the road, you need to multitask and think about so many things.
I barely take any days off when I travel, so I usually work on branding projects for my clients from hostels or cafes. That requires great planning and time management. Especially when you travel solo, you need to be your own time management, a personal assistant, and a boss. Travel brings the organization skills to another level and can help you to perform better during day-to-day tasks.
Build a network of connections
Career break gives you more opportunities to meet interesting people and gives you the comfort of hanging out with those whom you really connect with. Every single friendship can be your career booster. While the digital nomad lifestyle is more and more popular many of these people probably work on their projects and develop their business. That can be a great opportunity for you to connect and team up with those who share the same values. After you master your communication skills, learn more about yourself you create an authentic personal brand that has the potential to attract the right people and benefit your personal and professional life.
Few days ago I met with a new client of mine to talk about starting a new branding project. That made me think. I remembered myself pitching my first design project after graduation. The memory of it still makes me anxious. I was stressed and couldn’t talk properly. Few years and numbers of travels later I set at the table with a stranger and I had a conversation. I truly believe that all my travel experience lead me to this moment and all the lessons I took along the way benefit my business in many different ways.
The decision to quit my job wasn’t easy and it was scary. Some people even told me I was stupid. But I’ve never regretted it. I don’t say it’s for everyone, I don’t say you will find all the answers on the road, but I say taking an action sometimes is better than dreaming.
About the author
Magdalena Horanin is a graphic designer, a traveller and a coffee lover. Check out her services and portfolio at horanin.com.
Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your experiences or your point of view? Don’t be shy! Leave a comment!