A Gap Year:
A unique time when someone does something random and different for a significant period of time, to experience new things.
A gap year is a great idea for anyone. Whether someone is fresh out of school or has been on the grind for a few years and looking to take some time off in the form of a sabbatical. Everyone can admit that there are advantages to taking a gap year. Convincing yourself to take one is another story.
We have heard all the excuses: my career can’t wait, this opportunity will be gone, now isn’t the time, my family needs me, relationships, and more. While all of those can be very valid and good reasons why taking a gap year is not a great idea, I am going to give a few reasons supporting the cause if you are on the fence about your decision. So, what are the reasons in favor of a gap year?
- Economy. I am going to go there, but notice it is only 1 of 8. I made it number 1 not because it is the most important, but because it is the most obvious. A bad economy is a good time to travel, but not only for the reasons that you think. It is not just because you have fewer opportunities, or work is slow. It is also because you can find better travel deals abroad. Additionally, you can witness first-hand how the global economy is affected by a downturn, which can be informative. It can alter your perspective and make you more appreciative.
- People are living older these days. In the olden days, living to middle age was no guarantee. Living to become elderly was even more rare. Now a days, the rate for reaching middle-age and elderly is much higher. People are living older and working longer. Therefore, starting a bit later is not necessarily a hindrance.
- You don’t have to fit society’s mold to be successful. Has is ever occurred to you that most successful people did things that were considered ‘out of ordinary’? Seriously, think about it. Do a little research and I think you will find that many people who we consider to be icons of their time, lived a very different life than the norm. Sure there can be benefits to following the beaten path, but make yourself unique. Be bold.
- If you don’t, then there is a chance of regret for the future. When I was in grade school, a teacher of mine gave my class a what-ifsspeech. It was one that still resonates with me today, or I wouldn’t be talking about it. He told us that what-ifs are all about regret. You ask yourself: what if I would have done that? Or what if I would have made that choice. He told us to experience the things that we wanted and to radically pursue our goals in life. He explicitly told us, “You don’t want to have what-ifs in life because what-ifs suck.” In many ways, he was right. If you have always dreamed of doing something, then do it. No matter what it is.
- The best time is now. Mortality is a funny thing. It is hard to realize it in the present, but our prime is always in the now. What I mean is that life is precious. We may never have another opportunity like we have now because we have no way of knowing what the future holds for us, or if we will live to tell the stories. Many people know the Latin phrase Carpe Diem, which has literally been translated into “Seize the day”. However, few people know that Carpe Diem is taken from a longer sentence: “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero” meaning, “Seize the day, and put as little trust as possible in the future.” The truth is we don’t know what life will throw at us.
- Better now than later. If you are young, then the chances are that you will eventually have a family and steady job. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to do something different again, it does mean that you will be more limited. You will likely have more limited resources and less time off. If you are older, know that health is not guaranteed. If you have the time and are in good health go for it.
- If you have the money. If you are fortunate enough to have the financial backing to go off on your own for a while you are that much closer to doing it. Irrespective of what you choose to do in your gap year, you are going to have more opportunities if you have a good financial base. Taking a gap year without finances is not impossible, but it can be quite helpful to have them.
- You are looking for a career change. Let’s say that you have worked for a few years in any industry. Maybe they have been good years, or maybe not. Traveling is never a bad option for achieving some exposure and personal insight into which fields you enjoy. Someone looking to start in a new direction may benefit from a sabbatical-like experience.
A few quick notes on a gap year:
- A gap year is not necessarily a year-long. It can be longer and it can be shorter. It is more like a period of time than an actual measurement.
- A gap year does not only imply that a person has to travel. A gap year can be spent doing just about anything, particularly something that you enjoy doing and have always wanted to do.
Tell me what you think! I want to hear from you.
Are you looking to take a gap year soon? What are your thoughts?
Like my article? Subscribe to my blog for weekly updates! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.