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Why You Should Take A Year Off - Forbes
Young Entrepreneur Council

Young Entrepreneur Council, Contributor

We advise the world's most promising young professionals.

11/04/2013 @ 9:00AM |634 views

Why You Should Take A Year Off

(Photo credit: Business2Business)

My husband and I are moving to Costa Rica. To surf and write a sci-fi fantasy trilogy together.

No return tickets. No work. No kids. Just some savings and a collection of dreams.

We’re entrepreneurs in our thirties, arguably in the prime of our careers. Since selling   our company two years ago, we have become entrenched Silicon Valley executives. The success is addictive. It would be easier to stay for just one more year than it is to pick up and go. Because to put the breaks on this momentum we’ve built, to leave a company we love, to drop out of the startup scene entirely and simply disappear — it seems crazy. Maybe it is.

But, for two young people who are still in love after nine years of working and playing together every day, it seems crazier not to make the most of our youth.

Perhaps what makes leaving sound crazy is that it’s so rare. Which makes me wonder: why don’t more people take a year off?

As much as we’d love to think otherwise, our circumstances are not that special. We‘re not infinitely wealthy. We certainly have some savings and the ability to start something new with relative ease, but a lot of people have as much. We’re leaving because we realize that the opportunities to climb farther up the ladder will still be here when we get back. What will have changed is us.

Why don’t you join us? You probably have the means to do so, just as we do.

Here are four lies you tell yourself about why you can’t take time off:

Lie #1: I Haven’t Made Enough Money Yet

Enough money for what? To never have to work another day in your life? Have you ever stopped to think about how it would feel to never work again? For most of us, it would feel terrible. Not working for the rest of the year, on the other hand, might be spectacularly fun. And you know what? You probably have enough money for that.

Truth → Living on the beach can be dirt cheap.

You can live comfortably in Costa Rica, within walking distance from the beach, for less than $3k / month including lodging, food, beer, wifi, surf boards, maid service and a car. That’s $36k for a year of doing whatever you want every single day, in lavish comfort. You can do it on a budget for $12k (no car or maid service, longer walk to the beach), and luxuriously for $100k (beachfront house, daily massages, and a personal chef).

You have enough.

Lie #2: I Can’t Take My Kids Out of School

I don’t have kids yet, but I cannot accept that kids have to chain you down to a place or a job or a way of life.

It’s your choice. You can still get up and go. And, in fact, your kids will be better for it.

Truth → Change is essential for growth.

Homeschool them for a year. They’ll learn more about the world and themselves from a year of doing something radically different than they will sitting in class, and their friends will still be there when they get back. You can use the money you’ll save on tuition to get those daily massages instead.

Think of how much time you’ll have to spend together.

Lie #3: I’ll Kill My Career Trajectory

There is a moment in every trajectory (especially in the startup world) where a natural break presents itself. You can either continue on that trajectory, or fork off from where you currently stand and forge a new path.

You might not be able to quit your job tomorrow, but sometime in the not-so-distant future, you’ll feel yourself start to plateau. And there’s your chance. Will you take it?

Truth → You’re smart enough to turn “time off” into an asset.

Taking time off doesn’t mean you’re doing nothing. Rather, it means you’re growing in new and different ways. It’s up to you to use this time wisely, and come back from your year off in a better position for success than when you left.

Remember I mentioned at the top that my husband and I are going to be writing a sci-fi fantasy trilogy? That’s not just a throwaway. The dirty little secret is that it’s the seedling for our next big thing. But it starts with a year off, on the beach.

Lie #4: I’m So Close to #Winning

Don’t be delusional.

Truth → The race never ends.

I realized this for the first time when we sold our company, as I wrote in TechCrunch at the time. I’ve learned it again and again since then, watching myself move slowly up the Silicon Valley totem pole and accomplish goals I didn’t even realize I had, only to grow more stressed over time.

You will never be fulfilled by virtue of your accomplishments alone. There’s more to life than winning. Costa Ricans call it pura vida. I call it experiencing joy.

Why not give it a try for a while?

You can win another race next year. Or maybe the year after that.

Courtesy of YEC

Prerna Gupta is currently a beach bum in training. You can follow her @prernagupta

Courtesy of YEC

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

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