12/14/2010 12:58 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Cost of Taking a Year

I was recently in Aspen for a series of meetings. During that time, I struck up conversations with a handful of service professionals, all mid to late twenties (and ALL with impressive college degrees), at the hotel and various restaurants I visited.

I asked, "So, how long have you been here?" For most, the response started with a brief gasp. "Oh, wow, I guess it has been two seasons...3 years...7 years!"

"I just came out here for one winter."

"I lost my job in NY and needed a break from the stress. And just stayed."

"There is no stress here. It is short term addictive. A party every night. There are people, just like me, every where you look, just taking a break."

"There is no reason to leave. Until you realize you should have, so long ago..."

Most of you know that I am a strong proponent of finding and living your passion. But don't give up your long-term future for a quick fix of easy.

In your twenties, you are hired for your potential to become something. Your employers see the possibility for you to be trained and shaped. But your perceived potential diminishes over time. A 22 year old starting out straight out of college is worth much more than a 27 year old starting out with the same degree. And in your thirties, you are paid less and less for your potential - you have already spent it. Some are never able to catch up.

One young taxi driver from Australia told me he had left his job in Sydney as a criminal defense lawyer for a two year, employer-sanctioned sabbatical. He was having a blast, with every intention of returning to his career when his time was up. "Aspen is wonderful, but you have to have an escape trigger!"

Sounds like a plan to me.

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