If you are on a break from a job, remember it is a good time to re-evaluate your skills and see how you can prepare to stay ahead in the game and separate yourself from the herd by taking a course or by acquiring new skills.
We often yearn for time and picture all the wonderful things which we could do if only we could take that break from work. We are envious of people who go on those lovely long breaks and have a ready list of places to visit for when we will manage to squeeze in some time.
Now, what about having to take a break from work to spend time with your new born or to take care of an ill family member and not being able to get back to work as planned due to lack of adequate support systems? These are things which also happen to us women often. These may be planned breaks but are they the heaven we imagine breaks to be?
Talking from my personal experiences, the time when we are on a break can be confusing and in a few cases, even traumatic, if we have not adequately planned for it. It may have nothing to do with your spouse or your family and a lot to do with you.
This brings to mind my interaction with a client who had started working straight out of college and was doing very well in her job. When she had a baby after many years, she decided it was time to take a break, spend time with the child and take up something only after she was happy leaving the child with a reliable support system. Her plan was to get back to work in about 6-9 months. However, what actually transpired was quite different.
When she took her break, she was away for nearly a year-and-a-half and what was quite joyful in the beginning turned out to be a not-so-pleasant experience with time. She is someone who was financially secure and was not answerable to anybody on how she spent her money. It was painful to suddenly be financially dependent on someone else.
She had a happy marriage and a spouse who couldn’t figure out what could be the problem in spending money from the joint account. Add to this the fact that her identity was based on her professional achievements and her social circle consisted of largely work colleagues and suddenly, she felt “left behind”. Needless to say, there were many anxious moments and much self-doubt about whether the decision to take a break was the right one in the first place.
I am sure many of you will empathize with the above story and might even have similar experiences of your own. What you would be happy to know is by taking a few simple steps, you can avoid much of this stress and heartburn and actually convert this break into a personally fulfilling one.Put in place a contingency fund
While putting away a contingency fund, remember to also budget into your monthly expenses the financial support which you may be providing to your parents, your insurance premiums, loan EMIs, etc. Be conservative when you plan, if you think it is likely to be 6 months before you take up your next assignment, put away 12 months of expenses. Start accumulating this corpus today and do not go in for any big discretionary spends or start investing for other goals before you have accomplished this. Ensure you have adequate medical and life insurance.
Estimate amount needed for your favourite holiday/course (and add it to your contingency fund)
Ensure you have financial room left to pursue some things really dear to you, like travel or an expensive culinary course which you never had time for while you are working. Knowing that the break you are on is a temporary one and you will get back to corporate life soon should be motivation enough to do it now, provided you have planned for it in advance.
Plan to Upskill/Invest in yourself
If you are on a break from a job, remember it is a good time to re-evaluate your skills and see how you can prepare to stay ahead in the game and separate yourself from the herd by taking a course or by acquiring new skills. This can be very rewarding both in terms of keeping your mind occupied as well as building your confidence.Keep networking and stay in touch with your professional circle
Keep in touch with your ex-colleagues and stay abreast of what is happening in your industry. Continue your activity on social media like LinkedIn. Remember, out of sight is out of mind and the last thing you want now is to be forgotten by people who have the ability to help you.
It may never be easy to take that decision to go on a break, but you can make the journey far less stressful and much more fruitful, as long as you take a few basic actions/decisions in advance.(The author is the founder of Finwise Personal Finance Solutions, a financial planning firm that helps women and families plan for their goals, follow their passions and work towards financial independence.)You can now invest in mutual funds with moneycontrol. Download moneycontrol transact app. A dedicated app to explore, research and buy mutual funds.