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Strategic Career Breaks: Boost Your Second Act Success with Practical Tips | Ep #117

January 18, 2024

Strategic Career Breaks: Boost Your Second Act Success with Practical Tips | Ep #117 In Episode #117 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast, host Shannon Russell explores the concept of career breaks and the impact they can have on one’s professional journey.  Shannon delves into the nuances of taking a temporary pause in your career, discussing the […]

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Strategic Career Breaks: Boost Your Second Act Success with Practical Tips | Ep #117

In Episode #117 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast, host Shannon Russell explores the concept of career breaks and the impact they can have on one’s professional journey.  Shannon delves into the nuances of taking a temporary pause in your career, discussing the positive and negative aspects, along with the evolving perspectives in today’s work landscape. If you are considering time off, a sabbatical, or requesting a longer leave at your job, you will learn some key things to consider in this episode of the Second Act Success Career Podcast.


Key Takeaways:

  • Defining Career Breaks: Shannon defines career breaks as voluntary pauses in a person’s professional journey, highlighting the temporary nature of stepping away from regular employment to focus on personal development, health, or specific life events.
  • Challenges and Misconceptions: The episode addresses common challenges and misconceptions associated with career breaks, including concerns about resume gaps, financial impacts, and potential hurdles in job security and career progression.
  • Evolution in Workplace Culture: Shannon explores how the perception of career breaks is evolving, especially in the context of the post-pandemic work environment. She discusses how some companies are becoming more accepting of career pauses, recognizing the benefits of employees returning refreshed and recharged.
  • Benefits of Career Breaks: The podcast emphasizes the positive aspects of taking a break from your career, such as reevaluating professional goals, preventing burnout, and providing the necessary time for skill development or exploring new opportunities.
  • Navigating the Conversation: Practical advice is shared on how to approach conversations with employers about career breaks, ensuring clarity on job security and future career progression upon return.
Second Act Success Career Podcast #117

Strategic Career Breaks – Second Act Success Career Podcast #117


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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - Strategic Career Breaks: Boost Your Second Act Success with Practical Tips
Episode - #117
Host: Shannon Russell
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)

[00:00:00] Shannon Russell: Have you been waiting for a career breakthrough? Join me for my free Breakthrough Bootcamp. It starts on February 19th. You can head over to to save your seat. It's a week long free bootcamp to help you get clarity around your career and envision what you want for your future.

Do you want to change careers? Are you thinking of launching a business? Or do you just need some direction about what you want out of your work? My Breakthrough Bootcamp is for you. We will have live coaching sessions, Q& A calls, workbooks, resources, plus a free giveaway. Reserve your seat at now and I'll see you on the inside. Hey, you are you feeling stuck, desperate for a career change or thinking of starting a business, but you're just not sure how to make your first move. I'm television producer turned career coach Shannon Russell, [00:01:00] and this is the Second Act Success Career Podcast. This is where you will not only get the career advice you've been craving, but you'll get tips from career and business along with inspiration from others who have made a career transition to find Second Act Success.

Let's get started.

Welcome to the Second Act Success Career Podcast. I am your host career transition, coach Shannon Russell.

Today's episode is all about career breaks and why it might not be a bad idea to put a pause on your professional work.

What is a career break or a career pause?

It's a temporary and voluntary pause in a person's career where a person takes time off from their regular employment or professional responsibilities for a period of time.

Usually this individual will step away from their work to focus on different aspects of their life.

Like personal development, health concerns or to address any specific [00:02:00] life events or priorities that they might have with family or friends.

If you think about it, it actually sounds kind of amazing,

who doesn't want to take a break from the stresses of their job at one point or another. I know I have,

well, while a career pause may sound enticing to you. It's often looked at in a negative light by friends, family, and even employers. And here's why.

Even if your company is giving you an allotted amount of months to take off and deal with whatever personal matters are at hand. There will be a gap on your resume. People fear that hiring managers may question their dedication to their career, or may even question if there are any gaps in skillset over the absence from the job.

This will be something that you will have to explain in interviews or when you're having conversations with companies. And you can explain that. Okay. My former employer gave me X amount of months off. To handle this [00:03:00] personal matter. Or I chose to stay home with my children for this amount of time to raise them.

And now I'm looking to get back into the workforce. So whatever your reason is, you want to be able to explain that in a proper way and when you do it really shouldn't be a huge hindrance. Hopefully to that hiring manager,

Career breaks really have become more common and more accepted by companies and employers, especially since the pandemic.

Another con to taking a career break are the finances finances play a huge part here. When you choose to take a career break, if you depend on your paycheck, like most of us do. Then taking a pause will disrupt that flow of income and obviously have an impact on your financial situation. So if you plan to take a hiatus from work, you're thinking about it down the road, then I would suggest you start patting your savings sooner rather than later. I love Susie Orman, big, big [00:04:00] fan of all of her financial advice.

And she always recommends having an eight month emergency fund ready to go in case anything crazy in life should occur. So using that, or even building up a similar one, that's a career break fund, maybe a great idea. If you're seriously contemplating. Taking a pause or taking a break sometime within the next year or so, or if you just would feel better having that in case something came up personally, where, you know, you would have to withdraw from work or take that time off, just having a little bit in the bank to make sure that you're not overly stressed financially would it be something extremely beneficial for you?

All right now, let's talk about the job security and progression of your career aspect. Not all companies are going to be progressive enough to understand the idea of taking a break for a certain number of months. And then having you come back to continue Jess, where you left off

there's definitely some companies that are a little bit [00:05:00] more ahead of the times I have heard of some companies even hiring temporary employees to fill these gaps when needed. So there are companies that are definitely forward-thinking, but there's also a lot of companies that are not quite there yet.

So, if you are considering taking a career break, you will have to have a very thorough conversation with your employer

so that you can ensure that your position will be there ready and waiting for you when you return.

You also want to make sure that you will still be on the same path progressing towards your next career goal. When you returned. You don't want to feel like you need to start at a different level or that your career progression was hurt in any way. So bring this into the conversation and very much explained to your employer, the reason behind your career break, as much as you can so that they know that you are really dedicated and committed and that you will be back better than ever.

I have to say, employers that I have spoken [00:06:00] to who are onboard with this new idea of taking a sabbatical of some kind.

Are really seeing the benefit in allowing their employees to do this. They're seeing them coming back refreshed and recharged and ready to work in like a new renewed way.

So I think if you have that kind of boss, if you have that kind of company. It's all the better because they do understand that being able to take a few months off to be able to deal with personal matters. It's really going to be a win-win for everyone where you're going to be grateful and thankful for them.

And then they are going to feel like you are coming back ready to go better than ever. So it really is that that win-win, if you can swing it.

All right now that we got what the naysayers may think out of the way I want to talk about the positives of taking a break from your career.

So why is there a new surge in employees wanting to pause their hard work and focus on their [00:07:00] personal lives? Like, why is this happening now? Well, you might've guessed, but honestly it's because of the pandemic, the pandemic forced us into a situation. Where we were forced to be home. We were forced to leave the office.

Many of us were forced to leave our jobs unpaid because companies closed.

Many people were homeschooling kids or taking care of the health of loved ones. And being home during the pandemic. I was a career break.

We were able to pause and really rethink careers and rethink what we want work to be. And more importantly, how we want life to be entwined with work. Right. Cause they really do come together and I think it really made people think more about. What is important in life and how can I better weave my work in with my personal life?

And there was just a lot of light bulbs going off during that time. And it's still happening now. It's funny how these pauses, whether intentional [00:08:00] or unintentional really force us to reassess where we are in life. Personally, I found this after the birth of my second child, when I realized I just did not want to return to work after my maternity leave. I knew I had to, I knew I had to work and contribute financially to my family.

But I also knew I wasn't ready to go back to the stress and the schedule and the long hours that my profession demanded. And it was during that time. That I really took that pause to reassess what it was that I wanted to do, what it was that. I could do outside of my career in television. I really thought there was nothing else for me because entertainment is such a niche industry. But that break, that break that I chose after maternity leave. Was to really. Think bigger.

And I was able to think outside of the box, Of what I could do if I [00:09:00] just daydreamed a little, you know, these were ideas that I never would have thought about. In my busy day to day of doing what I was doing. So this break allowed me to think a little bit bigger

I was able to think about possibilities outside of what I had worked. My whole career to achieve. It was scary, but I was able to focus on it and by doing so it's, it's sparked a whole new career for me that I loved and I grew so much from, and then that led me to do what I'm doing today, coaching other women on how they can make a career transition to find what they are meant to be doing.

If you happen to be in a situation where you can take that break and your career and you feel safe and confident with that decision, then it can really open up a lot.

A lot of just time and internal discussions. With yourself to be able to think about the bigger picture, the bigger picture that we don't think about when we're in the hustle of every day, [00:10:00] work in life.

We have so much noise all day long. We're watching the clock. We're sticking to schedules. We're never really listening to the inner voice inside of us. But the magic. The real learning comes when we do sit in that silence and we listened to ourselves.

Also aside from just pondering your career ambitions, people take career pauses for mental and emotional health resets as well. It may be a health-related concern that you have for yourself that you're taking this break for, but there are also situations. When people need to take a hiatus to care for a loved one, or tend to a personal matter, that just can't be handled when you're working a nine to five.

So I truly think it's a wonderful thing. When an employer can understand these sensitive situations that their employees go through. And it can allow them to do what they need to do to get to the other side of that event or that, that health situation.

So [00:11:00] often these people come back to work and they're feeling better about themselves.

They're feeling healthier. And they're having gratitude for their workplace right they're grateful that their team, that their boss at their company allowed them so much time.

I think we really do need to prioritize mental and emotional health, , in the workplace and outside of it, , work leads to a lot of issues when it comes to health.

And so work should be the place where we can take a pause or a break when needed.

Okay. Now it's time to get to questions that you can ask yourself to decide if a career break is for you.

Number one. Have you been re-evaluating your career

Taking a break is the best way to know if you will miss your work, or if you are meant to be doing something else. Many times people will pause their career because they're feeling frustrated. Dissatisfied or just experiencing burnout. So stepping away gives [00:12:00] them that kind of 50 foot view of the situation. So that they can say, is this what I really want to spend the rest of my life doing? Or should I just try to look for a new line of work?

And when you can step back and really see, you can evaluate your career with much cleaner lenses. You can realize that maybe it's your manager or the company that doesn't suit you, but you really like the work. Or maybe you realize that it's the work itself that doesn't fulfill you. Or maybe the reason that you're hesitant about this role. Is because you are looking for more flexibility. Or you want better pay or you want benefits. So really stepping back to reevaluate your career can be a really positive thing.

Number two. It's stress causing burnout. So often when we are in the thick of working the stress becomes the norm. Am I right. You were just think that that is what it means to be in your position. That is what your team deals [00:13:00] with. That is what work is

we don't even realize that this stress is becoming a routine because we're so thick in the middle of it.

And maybe it's a toxic boss or a negative coworker, or even it could be just really unrealistic deadlines. Long hours. Just pressure of having to make that commission to get that higher paycheck. All of the stress can lead to anxiety, depression. It can lead to you just withdrawing and not having much of a social life or wanting to spend time with your family.

It can have you behaving in negative ways when you are with your loved ones. And it can really just eat away at you until you just break until you burn out. And so pausing your career can give you time to reset and find what will make you happy. What will make you happy at work and what will make you happy outside of work hours? So scheduling that time for yourself doing activities that bring you [00:14:00] joy. And looking at your overall health is something that can really prevent that stress at work and prevent ultimate burnout. This time away from work may actually help you get into a good routine so that you can return to work with more passion and drive than before.

Number three. Do you need time to learn a new skill or look for other opportunities, if you are considering shifting to a new career or even launching a business? Then taking a break is a smart move because it allows you time to explore your career options or to get training in a new field that you might be interested in.

Who knows it might even ignite a side hustle or give you time to volunteer or intern. You might be able to take that course or that certification program that you've been thinking about, or even just to get the space to think clearly and let yourself get creative and look at the options in front of you. Again, it goes back to the stress.

It goes back to the running and the routine. [00:15:00] And when you have that pause, when you have that break, you can clearly look at things a lot better.

Now of course, to go back to it. I want to be honest that not every company will be okay with you taking a career break and returning. Like everything is normal. Not every hiring manager is going to see this gap in employment. And look the other way. However, over these past few years, everything around the very concept of employment is being re-imagined.

We've seen hybrid work. We've seen remote work. We've seen work in all different kinds of ways. That we never would have imagined prior to 2020.

So these changes only increase the amount of employers that are understanding the need to really care for their employees. There are more and more companies, more and more managers who are understanding the need for personal career pauses. And this is a real benefit to you. If you're considering this, you just have to know the kind of situation that [00:16:00] you were in with your company, with your boss.

So while the appeal of taking a career, pause is bigger than it's ever been. More and more people are thinking about these sabbaticals, so it may not be a bad idea to lean into this concept. If you feel like you are in a place to be able to dive in and take advantage of it, you want to do your research before you go to your manager and suggest this.

You want to find out what your company culture stance is on this? Before you bring this up, you want to do your research and know the situation that you're in because you don't want to just leave. And be stuck with no paycheck and no job to return to.

No matter the status of your current career. I want you to take time, to fully consider the pros and cons of taking a career break and how it can affect you, your mental health. Your longterm financial outlook. And of course your career prospects. I loved bringing this really cool concept to you, and I hope you enjoyed. I [00:17:00] hope it gave you some things to think about and I hope that more companies embrace this idea for all of us down the road. I will be back again soon with an all new episode of the Second Act Success Career Podcast. Thanks so much and make it a great day.

[00:17:16] Shannon Russell: Thank you for joining us. I hope you found some gems of inspiration and some takeaways to help you on your path to Second Act Success. To view show notes from this episode, visit Before you go, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don't miss a single episode. Reviews only take a few moments and they really do mean so much.

Thank you again for listening. I'm Shannon Russell and this is Second Act Success.


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Episode #113 – A Journey From Setbacks to Success