How Following That Dream Can Help Your Career

October 19, 2011

If there’s one part of my new guide, How to Take a Career Break to Travel, that I get fired up about, it’s this: taking time out of the traditional workforce to travel does not have to kill your career. In fact, if you make this move strategically, it can actually help you professionally.

This goes for more than just traveling. You can turn most any goal into a career-booster if you approach it in a smart way. Want to write a book? Climb a mountain (either literally or figuratively)? Raise a family?

Yes, even taking time out of the workforce to raise a family, a move we often assume will zap momentum out of a career, can be used to get where you want to be professionally — if you frame that experience in a way that’s appealing to future employers or clients.

That’s because employers like go-getters. They like people with initiative. They like people who make things happen, even if those things are personal dreams.

Why? Because enthusiasm and initiative are transferable skills. If you are driven enough to follow through on a big goal, chances are you’ll have the energy to help a company achieve their goals, too.

The key is how you present those transferable skills. If an employer (or client, if you’re looking to work as a free agent) asks what you were doing for the last two years, and you shrug and say “raising a family” or “traveling,” how do you think that employer will perceive those experiences?

If you answer that question by explaining the skills you gained while raising your family or traveling and the projects you undertook and how everything you learned will make you a valuable employee, you have a far better chance of landing the job. If you show you’re a go-getter (and you’re qualified in other ways), guess who will want you on their team?

What I’m saying is this: Gain skills during your time away, and learn to market those skills in a smart way. But don’t overlook the fact that simply going after what you want will make you a more desirable employee, colleague and even friend.

Because anyone you’d want to work for (or hang out with) will respect a smart Leap. They’ll recognize a go-getter, and they’ll want to keep you around. They’ll want your passion to seep into their work.

So go follow that dream. And when you’re ready to dive back into the workforce, be proud of what you’ve done. Those guts will take you places.

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3 Replies to “How Following That Dream Can Help Your Career”

  • Sarah says:

    Alexis, I so needed to read this post! I often think no way my dreams and passions and life experiences would interest an employer. But they do! I quit my job after I had my daughter and joined a mom’s group. When I wasn’t tending to my daughter, I spent my time devoting myself to my blog and related social media. About 10 months after my daughter was born, a mom in my mom’s group asked me to join her on a venture because she was impressed with my blog. And now I work a flexible schedule that lets me be a mom and do what I love. So my passion and go-getterness translated into an opportunity! You are right, it is critical not to devalue ourselves and our experiences.

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