Taking a break from work - help me make it count!
April 27, 2010 10:38 AM Subscribe
My wife has been feeling a lot of stress at her job for quite some time and is unsure of her overall career choice. She switched jobs about 1.5 years ago to try to reduce stress but her situation has not improved. She is concerned about finding a new job while employed (again) because the positions that she is qualified for would be similar. She is considering leaving her job and taking the time off to explore options and get herself into mental and physical shape. We've gone over our finances together and played out several scenarios that we think will work. Now we're seeking advice on things we may have missed or advice on how to make these months off really count as a time of mental reflection and physical health.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (27 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Some details: We have about 5 months of emergency funds saved up. If we make only minimal lifestyle changes, we could supplement my salary with these funds to last around 11 months. The current plan is for her to leave her current job some time in the next 1-2 months, take approximately 3 months off, and then start looking for a new job. If it takes another 3 months to find the right one, then we'll have around 2-3 months left as an emergency fund for both of us.
She'll use her time off to improve her physical and mental health. She has been wanting to lose weight for a long time but works long hours (with a long commute) and has difficulty finding the time and motivation each day after work to exercise. In addition, most evenings are spent on job listing sites without finding careers that look promising, which seems to add to her despair. She also worries that she may have depression, anxiety, or some other condition, and her low self-esteem due to her physical self-image contributes greatly to her feelings of depression.
Some questions that we have:
1) In general, can you recommend resources or personal stories on how to make this time the most valuable possible?
2) She has struggled with her career choice for a long time - she is a business major who has worked in consulting and project management, and does not get satisfaction from her work. I am in a science/technical field, so I have trouble relating to the business world. She has already read "What color is your parachute?" and "I don't know what I want, but I know it's not this" but neither of them has helped her figure out what she wants to do with her life. This is a great struggle for both of us and we are worried that even with time off for reflection, she may wind up in the same position 6 months from now. What to do?
3) She (and I, to some extent) are skeptical of therapy, which I know will not sit well with the Hive Mind. She has accepted that if she doesn't quit her current job, she might need therapy to help her through her funk. However, she thinks that if she has time off to finally institute a weight-loss/exercise plan and take care of projects that have been sitting on the To-Do list for months, she will feel much happier and less stressed out. So should she wait to seek therapy to see if she can manage on her own? This being AskMe, I expect the resounding answer will be "no", but how can she distinguish between depression and just an unfulfilling career/stressful life?
4) She is concerned about explaining a self-imposed period of unemployment to family, friends and her current and future employers. Some of her family is of the opinion that "they call it work for a reason" so she fears that they will not understand and support her in this break. Any advice on what to tell her family and future employers?
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