The following is a guest post from Martin of Studenomics — you need to check the blog out to see what sort of new projects Martin has been working on to help you gain financial freedom.
Does it ever make sense to take a year off? Should you take a year off in your teens or 20s to figure everything out?
What’s my answer?
Nope. Not at all. I don’t believe in being idle or waiting for things to magically work out for you. That’s not going to happen.
I would like to thank Joe for allowing me to guest post here again. The last time I was here we had some fun chatting about YOLO and your finances. Today I wanted to look at the idea of a year off in your prime.
You should not waste valuable time to go “find yourself” or to just get drunk every single night.
There are many feel-good and romanticized stories about successful folks that dropped out of college or took time off to form a billion dollar business. Those are extremely RARE.
While I’m against the idea of taking time off, I know that I can’t stop you or force you to stick around another term if you’re not into it. I also know that time off from a crappy college program, job you hate, or toxic environment can really be a life-saver.
Let’s say you do take a year off, what can you do?
There’s so much to see on this planet. In some cultures it’s common to travel the world in your 20s. In North America, we’re generally expected to go straight to work, start a family, and buy a place. The American dream baby!
If you must take time off, it makes perfect sense to see the world a little bit so that you know what’s out there. Life has so much more to offer than just your local pub or community coffee shop.
Where will you take off to? You can start off with a classic Euro-trip or you can just explore your own continent. All that matters is that you save the money to see the world a bit. Use this time to see how others live.
Joe> I love traveling and I think it’s a great idea to take a gap year. Traveling is more fun when you’re young and the trip will have a huge influence on your personality. It’s fun when you’re older too, but I think people are already set in their ways by then.
Read books on your favorite topic.
I totally get that school or work can’t teach you everything. It’s important to read books on your favorite topics. I’ve made it a point to read books on my favorite topics over the years. This includes everything from training to finding your passions to MMA.
It’s wise to read books on your favorite topics because you never know where a brilliant idea or burst of motivation can come from.
Pick up new skills.
Do you have any skills worth mentioning? Anything marketable?
If you take time off, you can pick up new skills to help you out later in life. You can pick up a simple skill or something that you’ve always been afraid of (cooking — I’m looking at you guys).
The goal is to master a skill from beginning to end to see it through and feel that sense of accomplishment. This might just also boost your confidence.
Learn a language.
How many languages do you speak? I speak Polish and English (arguably!). My goal is to be conversational in Spanish by the end of the year. I signed up with Duolingo and I work on my Spanish a little every single day.
If you take time, you can use this opportunity to finally master another language. With the Internet, it is literally easier than at any point in history to learn a language. And hey, it might also help out with your social life.
Figure out what’s next.
What on Earth is next for you? What’s your plan? Time off can give you that clarity that you so badly need and can help you figure out what to do after college.
Every time I step away for a bit to try something new or just to explore, I find it interesting how clear my goals become. I instantly figure out what I need to do and what has been missing this whole time. Something as funny as a beer with a stranger in the streets of Poland can really help you figure out what direction you need to take your life on next.
That’s what I would do if I were to take a year off in my 20s. I have seen it do wonders for friends who weren’t sure of what to do next.
“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” — Abraham Lincoln