Are you ready for a career break?

Do you feel unchallenged and want something else in your career?

Are you struggling to set future goals?

Maybe you need a career break. I have taken 2 long breaks during my career and boy am I glad I did.

The first

It was a life changing time. I was about to become a father for the first time to a beautiful baby girl.

At the same time, I felt like I needed more at work. I had been a hard core software developer for many years, but now I felt unchallenged. This was surprising as I was selected by my company to evaluate a new development technology. I was regularly flying to the Microsoft Campus in Seattle and had direct access to the development leads of the new product. I always dreamed of this, but it wasn’t what I seemed to want now.

I decided to take a break, spend time with my wife and baby daughter and tinker with some projects of my own.

A new direction

During this time, internet based apps were taking off and I decided to develop one of my own.

I established a relationship with an internet marketer and he identified a need he had and that others like him had in the market. Within 2 weeks I created a prototype and continued to iterate through a develop/feedback loop with the marketer until it was ready to ship.

In 2001 I launched an online survey tool called OneMinutePoll. It was one of the first that did not require the user to install software on their machines at a price point that was affordable by all.

The product did very well, but not well enough to cover my living expenses.

I decided it was time to go back to work, but I wanted something different. This time, I wanted to work directly with the internal business clients creating products for them. Just as I did with the marketer.

The company I had left previously welcomed me back with open arms. This proved to me that if you do a good job and leave on good terms, you can always come back at a later date.

I explained what I wanted to do and within 3 months I was working for a new division working with internal clients and creating products directly for them.

I loved it and my career grew over many years from leading development teams of 2 people in London to global teams of 300. But always facing off directly to the internal clients.

13 years later it happened again, I needed something else. A new challenge.

The second time

This time is was harder to take a break. The sector I work in was downsizing and I now had bigger commitments. This decision not only affected me, but it affected my entire family,

I don’t know if people think I am brave or stupid, but I took the risk and took a year out. Again I left on good terms.

During that year, I tried lots of different things.

I rewrote OneMinutePoll now called SwiftSay. I always felt I wanted to run a small software development company, but once the product was finished, I realised that this was not something I wanted to pursue. Well at this time anyway.

So I thought deeply about what I loved to do in my previous role.

I realised that it was helping people develop and grow their careers. So I started a blog. The one you are reading now. I try to post each week about questions people have asked me and interesting stories about my career.

I also formally trained as a personal performance and executive coach.

Time came again when I needed to go back to work. Someone had to pay the mortgage.

This blog actually got me my next job, see my post – How my blog got me my current job

I am working again, but I continue to blog, I am coaching others at my new company and volunteering for talent building initiatives.

My exciting new journey has started with one goal in mind. To help others develop and grow.

Wrap up

Career breaks give you time to reflect, try new things and figure out your future direction.

They give you time to invest in you, recharge your batteries, meet new people and spend precious time with your family.

When was the last time you invested in yourself?

If you are thinking about taking a career break and have some questions, I will be more than happy to answer them.

Please ping them across to nick@nicholas-foster.com, connect with my on LinkedIn or leave a comment below.

Your virtual coach & mentor
Nick

Categories: Wellness