iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Patty Hodapp

Patty Hodapp

Posted: July 20, 2010 10:00 AM

Plenty of us have considered, even fantasized, about giving our dreary cubicle existence the mental middle finger, tossing our PDAs into the nearest body of water (flushable or otherwise) and hopping the next flight to Fiji -- but few of us rarely take that leap. Sure, pesky little things like resume gaps, unpaid mortgage bills and the dreaded "slacker" label hold us back, but believe it or not -- none of those are insurmountable challenges. Considering the freedom that could be yours for just $30 a day (in certain countries, even less) and the cost of a new passport, why haven't you quit The Job yet? Certainly, as we've seen in recent years, the company that employs you today offers no solid guarantee that they will tomorrow.

A few weeks ago, The Boston Herald explored a spin on the phrase, "Quit Yet?" which refers not to breaking your pack-a-day habit, but to quitting your career addiction while you still can. Why is it so hard for us to take the two weeks we're given -- let alone a self-determined sabbatical? In this business section piece, Darren Garnick interviews Amanda Pressner, Jen Baggett and Holly Corbett, co-authors of the new book The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World, about taking a career break to stave off the inevitable burnout that comes with working 60-hour workweeks and making one too many personal sacrifices for The Job.

Their website, lostgirlsworld.com which once tracked the women's own journey across 12 countries during the budding years of their media careers, has now become an online resource that inspires young professionals to put in their notice and take back a year -- or at least a few weeks -- of their time in order to do a little self-exploration through travel. With the economy still waiting for a rebound, there's no better time than right now to do it.

For those of us waiting in our cubes for some magically perfect moment where the stars align to quit The Job and the yellow-brick-road to our Big Dream suddenly appears, I'm sorry to break bad news, but it's not going to happen.

The Lost Girls advise talking your fantasy into a reality by telling a few friends that you're plotting a career break, and then a few more friends...until you've go no one left to tell but your boss (and perhaps your significant other, but we'll save that conversation for another time). Here are three other things to keep in mind as your consider making one of the biggest -- and certainly the most rewarding -- departures of your life. Promise you won't regret it...

1. You're Not Alone:

Countless people have quit to travel before you. Don't believe me? Check the message boards on Lonely Planet Thorntree or BootsnAll . Most people have a natural career break in their late 20s when they've run the gauntlet of entry-level jobs and they're either on track for a promotion or looking for something more challenging. This is perfect timing to step away from your career and set out on a trip. Even if it's only for a month or a week, getting fresh air and new scenery brings perspective and you'll hit the job market with a renewed sense of vigor. If you've put several years into your career, consider asking your boss for a sabbatical -- or a few months of unpaid leave -- even if people in your profession don't typically take one. It never hurts to ask before you hand in the two weeks' notice. The Boss may be far more supportive than you realize about your need to recharge your batteries (if he's not, do you really want to work for such a tyrant anyway?).

2. You Don't Have to Be Rich:

You can travel for a week through several countries for as much as it'd cost to fill up your SUV's gas tank, or take the hottie from apartment B out for sushi and drinks on Friday night. Traveling is expensive, but fear of the hidden costs isn't reason enough to not go. Direct deposit a small portion of your paycheck for a year or two -- a hundred bucks here and there adds up fast. Open up another bank account just for your trip, and don't you dare touch it for anything but plane tickets and travel-related expenses.

3. You WILL Have a Job When you Get Home:

Okay, so if you leave your current job on not-so-nice terms, your boss won't serve it back on a silver platter when you get home. BUT, you'd be surprised how much travel adds to a resume -- regardless of your profession -- in this globalizing world. You need to know what's going on out there. If you've never been out of the US, you're one of the many, but that's not reason enough to stay behind. Getting out from behind your desk and into the world will not only give you invaluable life experience (and probably several stories to share with coworkers around your next office water cooler) but also it'll make you a more hirable and more desirable addition to any office. Guaranteed. It proves to your next potential boss that you had the cajones to A: leave a career to follow your dreams and figure out priorities (which, yes, takes major guts) and B: you have the gumption to reenter the market a more attractive applicant than the single internship, cookie-cutter guy fresh from grad school who's mommy still pays his phone bill.

 

Follow Patty Hodapp on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pattyhodapp