Updated: Oct 30, 2019
With exam results finally published, fresh high-school graduates are accepting their university choices and planning the next stages of their academic journey. However, there are many graduates who will postpone the university journey and embark on their GAP Year. In case you are not familiar with the term, a Gap Year is an opportunity for a young adult to put the academic books on a shelf and spend a year outside the classroom and inside the school we call life. With travel, language, employment skills and getting to spend some quality time with family and friends without the pressures that school testing has to offer. The aim of the Gap Year is to ultimately offer a young person the opportunity to discover potential career aspirations that will ensure their academic choices will be aligned with a thriving career in their future. In fact, it is estimated that 60% of students who have taken a focused Gap Year have shown an increase in deciding what they want to study at university and felt more confident about their choices than students who did not do a gap year or did not have a 'focused' gap year. Although a Gap Year is still a growing concept in North America, students across the UK and Europe are enjoying these experiences in greater numbers than ever before.
Enter the new concept - the Adult Gap Year. You may be thinking - great, another term for a mid-life crisis or just another excuse to stop taking life and the responsibilities of life seriously! As probably with most of you reading this now, I too was unfamiliar with the concept of 'the Adult Gap Year'. But I am so excited to learn that this does exist, and I want to share the discoveries that I have made and how the AGY can offer you endless possibilities right from the get-go!
As always, the content that I share with you in my blogs, combine both the theory behind the idea, my perspective about the concept and an invitation for you, the reader, to self-reflect and enhance your ability to transform your life with a few nuggets of inspiration from something that you read here, with me.
With the aim of always growing my skillset, I decided to look more deeply into this newest trend...the Adult Gap Year. Yes, you read that correctly...it is a gap year for adults who have been working and according to the research, it is most popular with adults who have been working anywhere between 10 years and above but of course it is not exclusive to only this work experience group. With numerous similarities, The Adult Gap Year differs to a Gap Year taken by a young adult in that it is an experience that enhances their current career status and can be used to promote more career success for the participant.
The benefits of an AGY are endless; from promoting wellness to gaining new skills and knowledge, the participant returns to their 'adult career status' feeling more confident and inspired with fresh eyes and fresh experiences that allowed them to meet new people and learn new things that they could not have easily learned while working full-time.
As with benefits, there are always challenges, and I would be failing you if I did not bring forward the obvious. Rising above the opinions of colleagues, family members and friends is definitely one of the greatest emotional obstacles and can cause the participant to feel lost and isolated during their gap year. The reality of financial affordability during the AGY is obvious and I believe would be the most common reason for individuals choosing not to do a gap year. Finally, in my mind, the biggest obstacle for an individual considering the gap year is their self-belief and their limited mindset that the gap year would not be a journey of learning and opportunity but rather a waste of time. As a child of the generation of immigrant parenting, I have seen and heard about the sacrifices that parents have made for their children. Passions and career aspirations were not an option in the reality of supporting children and offering them the opportunities that were not available to them 'back in their country'. If you are the child of an immigrant parent, you may relate to this and you will understand that the 'western dream' was the reason the children of immigrant parents were given the privileges of being born and raised outside your parent's home country...your root country. Hard work, long hours, strict parenting of culture and family values were all to be taken seriously if parents wanted to instil the work ethic and cultural values into their children. The pride of watching their offspring succeed because of the sacrifices that they made weigh heavy on children of the immigrant generation. Please understand that you do not have to be the child of immigrant parents to feel the weight of self-judgment, regardless of who your parents were and what your social status was, a limited mindset will be the demon in your closet in deciding to take the AGY or even enjoying the journey of the AGY. These deeply rooted beliefs are at the core of why it 'doesn't feel right' to take a gap year and if one does choose to take a gap year, the unconscious belief system may deter the individual from enjoying and appreciating the opportunities that lay ahead of them.
In thinking about both the benefits and the challenges, I thoroughly believe that both perspectives offer an individual wonderful opportunities to grow as a human being and create more meaning and enhance the meaningful experiences that stepping away from the pathway of the comfort zone we call 'our life' can offer us if we allow ourselves to 'stand out' rather than 'fit in' to what our social circles pressure us to. As always, I do not preach without self-experiencing what I teach to my clients and to my audience. I too have taken an Adult Gap Year, but I called it 'starting my own business' and in doing so, I did not allow myself the time to appreciate my growth and I spent most of that time justifying to myself that I made the right decision while isolating myself from the new people that were available to me on my journey. I did not acknowledge that my new experiences were helping to guide me through the transition to my new model for my life and if I allowed myself to think differently rather than judging the life choices of my new adventures, I would have enjoyed the journey so much more. Upon learning about the Adult Gap Year, I realised that it doesn't have to be a year; it can be a month, three months, a year or even longer. That is the fabulous part of this experience. As an adult, you do not have to follow the 'societal rules', you can make your own rules! I will remind you that with every new experience on this journey you call 'your life', you always run the risk of stepping away from certain life partners and gaining a new group of life visitors. You may be wondering what I mean by 'life partners' and 'life visitors'. Pre-adult gap year, I had people in my life that were deeply rooted and not by any conscious choice of my own. They were people that I adopted through my work and my personal relationships. Post-Adult Gap Year, I have consciously invited 'life visitors' to join me on certain parts of my life journey without the expectation that they are moving in forever. In fact, I have become more accepting of the fact that my life visitors have come to enhance my experience of life and at some stage they may either fade away or they may engage in a longer term within my life journey. It is now obvious to me that my adult gap year was an extended version of what most individuals will choose to do, I took seven years but, in all truthfulness, I was unconscious and incompetent through it all. I fought the demons of my belief system, I judged myself extensively and rarely did I stop, observe and appreciate the wins along my journey. Upon reflection, my greatest learning is that I did not flow through my experience and I did not prepare for the journey. However, life is not for the planners, it is for the live-rs and so I would not change a minute of my gap years. I am the person that I am today because of the experiences that I have lived thus far. Therefore, my Adult Gap Year was a HUGE success!
Have you been thinking about transitioning from where you are to where you want to be? Have you been deeply contemplating what else life has to offer you or rather what YOU have to offer life? Are you ready to overcome your fears and insecurities? Are you ready to build faith in yourself? Are you ready to stand up to your life and gain the confidence that will help you to thrive in your life and in your career? Have you been working for the sake of paying the bills and do you want to discover what your career aspirations are? If you are inspired to do differently from today onwards, then the Adult Gap Year may be the experience of your lifetime. Ask yourself; are you growing into the human being that you want to be or are you unconsciously living life without an aim, a purpose and a direction? As with anything that we do in life, I believe that you would overcome the challenges and thrive in the benefits of the Adult Gap Year by planning ahead, preparing the key players in your life, (spouses, children and employers), and clearly defining what the gap year aim is for. Clarify the goals and create concrete action steps that will ensure that your time away from 'the life you call your life' will be an empowering time to reinvent, rejuvenate and refresh your well-being, your personal relationships and your professional purpose. By doing so, you are preparing yourself for the most empowering experience of your lifetime!
If you are interested in an Adult Gap Year but you do not know how to start, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to support you through the planning phases of your gap year experience.