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July 30, 2012 / mike54martin

Take a Year Off

So here’s an idea. Take a year off from work. Before you say that’s impossible just ask yourself one question… Would you like to have a year to do anything that you wanted? If the answer is yes you are not alone. According to a Harris Decima survey in 2011 almost 75 percent of Canadians would like to do just that if nothing stood in their way. And half of those surveyed thought regularly about doing just that.

Taking a year off, a sabbatical or a gap year is not just for kids who want to take a break before starting college or their working career. Thousands of everyday Canadians are actually making their particular dream come true by planning and then taking a year off from their regular working lives. Some people are using this year to go back to school and finish a degree or take a new one in interior design or romance languages. Others are travelling around the globe and visiting exotic destinations. Still others are staying closer to home but learning and practicing a new skill like woodworking or carpentry.

But it’s impossible for me, right? Wrong. Many of the same people noted above are just ordinary workers who have come up with a plan to make this particular dream come true. So what are the barriers? For most they are time, money, commitments, and their careers.

The time and commitment questions may be the trickiest, mostly because we have other people in our lives completely or partially dependent on us. That makes it difficult but not impossible to accommodate but where there is a will to do it there is always a way. Small children still to be cared for but grandparents and other family members can be approached to help. Older children may not mind as much if their routine is interrupted so that they can go with you on a tour of Europe or Africa.

Money, first of all to pay your on-going bills and then to pay for your sabbatical pursuits is also a challenge but some employers offer a 4 over 5 program where they will bank 20 percent of your salary during a 4 year period and allow you to get 80 percent of your salary during the 5th. It will be a sacrifice but think about the benefit. Also a special savings program where you put aside an additional $50 or $100 a month will give you that extra cash you need for your time off activities. It’s not easy, but doable.

Finally you will need the active support of your employer to make this all happen. But more and more employers are realizing the benefits that they get when an employee goes away to recharge and re-invigorate themselves on a year off. They would much rather have you go away happy and come back happier than to stay and be miserable. Just make sure that your career will still be there when you get back.

So taking a year off is possible. If you want it enough to work to make it happen.

This post first appeared on my blog at

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and author of The Walker on the Cape, a mystery set in Grand Bank, NL. For more information please visit:

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