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Dear Louanne: I’m thinking about a career break… as my job no longer fulfils me


Make a note of how the break will benefit your employer

Make a note of how the break will benefit your employer

Getty Images/Maskot

Make a note of how the break will benefit your employer

I no longer get satisfaction from my job. It is something in which I’ve been involved for over a decade but in the last few months, I’ve dreaded getting out of bed to go. It’s not the work itself or the company, but I have no longer any interest in what I’m doing. I feel like some sort of career break but didn’t think it sounded right when you’re in your late 40s, I felt it was something that you did in your 20s or 30s. I’m not sure how to have the conversation with my boss.


Hello DW,

You are not alone in taking stock of your life and thinking about what might feel rewarding and meaningful to you.

Following on from the pandemic and lockdown many people have been thinking about their lives and their work and taking a step back to consider opportunities, to reassess and reimagine their lives.

There is a growing body of evidence that taking time out of work to travel, to pursue personal interests not only benefits the individual but also businesses.

A travel career break can bring you more confidence, improve your communication, help you become more adaptable and a better planner. This can be a significant opportunity for personal development that the company don’t have to pay for.

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Before you arrange the formal conversation with your boss it will be helpful to check out the policy in place for a sabbatical in the staff handbook.

As part of your preparation for the conversations make note of how the break will benefit your employer.

You can outline that having worked in the organisation for over a decade taking a break will support you in rejuvenating your commitment and mindset for the work.

Think also about how you contribute to the job and how you demonstrate being an effective member of the organisation. Being a valued and respected member of the team will support you in being given the leave you hope for.

Before you request the conversation think about what their main concerns might be about taking a period of time off.

It’s a good idea to put your request in writing. Be sure to be clear by outlining the reasons for the request and what you can do to facilitate the transition – perhaps training your temporary replacement, writing a procedure manual for your role etc.

It is likely that the request will take more than one conversation and one meeting so be prepared to be patient as well as strategic. Be timely in answering the queries that your employer may have.

Remember, you have worked for the same place for ten years so while no one is irreplaceable you do possess a depth of experience and have demonstrated a commitment to the organisation that is not easy to replicate. It will be much better for the organisation to have a refreshed and motivated employee than lose you to a competitor.

If you reach an agreement about the break, make sure that you have all the details agreed in writing (returning to the same job, same pay rate, how to reduce or extend the break and so on).

Good luck with the conversation and all at Relate NI hope that you have a wonderful adventure whatever you plan to do. Life is for living.

‘Our son isn’t ready for university life’

My teenager is, hopefully, going to be leaving home to go to the university of his choice in September. Myself and my husband have babied him quite a lot so I don’t think he’s ready for life without us. I think it’s good that he’s going to experience life away from home but how best can I prepare him? I don’t want him to think we’re lecturing him, but I do want to remind him of what can happen when we aren’t there all the time.


Hello HS,

In the next few months your family are going to experience some significant changes. This will be an emotional time for you all.

Your son may feel excited about the changes that lie ahead including moving to a new city, living with strangers and being independent.

As his parent you are likely to be going through all the same emotions but on an even grander scale. If your son is your first child to leave home, then this may be a bit of a shock for you.

Remember that emotional responses are completely natural and helpful.

Communication as always is important. You can let your son know how you feel and check in with him how he is about all the changes taking place.

You are also hoping to communicate your love for your son by sharing some important skills. Many people find it easier to show their love in practical ways.

There’s a wonderful proverb, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’

Some of the things that you can concentrate on over the next few months include talking about money and how to cook.

Many families can feel uncomfortable talking about money. Talking about budgets and what support you can offer your son financially is important.

As with most families it is likely that your son has never had to seriously live within a budget before so unless you want phone calls in the middle of the night when he can’t afford the next round of drinks you will need to make a start now.

Sit down together and make a list of the various costs and how much he is likely to spend each month. Work out how much his maintenance grant will cover.

A significant percentage of teenagers don’t know how to cook. Focus on quick, easy and cheap recipes. Your son is going to want to eat something tasty that he can throw together easily.

Some student classics include stir frie, spaghetti Bolognese, pasta bakes – there’s lots of recipes you can try out with him.

Teach them the basics – how to cook an egg (scrambled, boiled, fried, in an omelette), how to boil pasta, how to chop vegetables.

One of the most important preparations for your son’s life away from his family is to let him go.

That can be the most challenging part for a parent who is used to caring and attending to the needs of their child. He’s an adult now. He’s ready to go.

Give your son the space to spread his wings and watch him soar.

For more information on Relate NI, see www.relateni.org

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