Go For It!

If working is making you feel as though you want to turn in your resignation, you're not alone. Draw inspiration from these busy professionals, who took time off to relax, reassess and find new meaning in their lives.

of downsizing have brought. Many have sought refuge in entrepreneurship or family matters, Meanwhile, technology has created new possibilities and careers that were only imagined five years ago, opening the door to new vocational possibilities, says Gonyea.

Stress is a major reason for discontent in the workplace and costs employers an estimated $150 billion to $200 billion annually, according to the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Virginia. In response, more companies are recognizing that employees are more productive if they are given a chance to periodically take time off while focusing on personal priorities.
As a result, sabbaticals are becoming popular. They allow employees time to reflect on their careers and the overall operation of the business, away from the daily pressures of the office.With a three-, six-, or twelve-month leave, employees get a break from job stress, and employers get workers who return refreshed and ready to go.

So how do you really know when it’s time to make a change? Gonyea offers 10 common road signs. You’re feeling:
bored and unchallenged;
demeaned and dehumanized;
as though you’re working well beyond your capabilities;
like an outcast around your coworkers;
burnt out from emotionally exhausting work;
seriously and consistently underpaid;
extensively overqualified;
unrecognized or unrewarded for your labor;
that your boss is unrealistic or overly demanding;
that the job offers little room for personal or professional growth.
If most of these points apply to you, then a change may be in order.

The good news: making a change is possible. The bad news: it isn’t easy. There is clearly some risk, since few people can shift career gears on a whim and be successful. Therefore you must develop a strategy. Whatever you choose to do, part of that game plan must involve getting your finances in order. That may mean paying off all debt, building a nest egg to last you six months to a year and curtailing expenses. If you’re worrying about paying the rent, it’s hard to focus on your dreams. Your survival needs cannot dominate your long-term goals.

Look inside yourself to be sure of what you want. Preparing the groundwork entails headwork, legwork and paperwork. You must decide on the specifics of your leave, and do some in-depth research into its costs, benefits and personal and professional feasibility. All in all, consider these goals when negotiating with yourself:

Determine how much time you want off;
Establish a budget and pay off any outstanding bills;
Discuss your decision with family and friends who may be apprehensive of your motives; and
Set down objectives by asking yourself what you want to accomplish. Just because you are not in the office doesn’t mean you’re not working. You still need to have goals.

Profiled here are four individuals who made a conscious decision to leave their jobs for more fulfilling pursuits. While they pursued wildly divergent paths, all the subjects agree that making the switch was one of the best decisions they ever made.

Terry Caliste walked into the math department at Southern University in 1980 with every intention of dropping out of school.

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