If You're Burned Out at Work, Consider This

Many Americans slog through the 9-to-5 grind for decades, biding their time until they reach their sixties and retirement finally rolls around.

Unfortunately for many people, once they do reach retirement age, many of the things that they might have loved to try if they had free time when they were younger--such as backpacking around Europe for a month or learning how to surf--are no longer possible due to physical limitations. But what if you could shift some of those retirement years forward to today?

Mini-retirement: Taking breaks from your career in short bursts throughout your professional life.

These breaks last up to a few months or longer, and the benefits of taking them can be substantial. You can experience the advantages of retirement while still healthy and in good shape, find greater balance between life and work, and open yourself to new opportunities in your career. Note also that mini-retirements don't look the same for everyone; some people use these breaks to take extended and expansive trips, while others take advantage of the free time to do something new like writing a book or going to culinary school. Whatever you choose to do during your mini-retirement, the benefits of these breaks for your personal wellbeing are clear and significant.

This all sounds well and good, but how do you consider a mini-retirement when in the middle of a 40 year career with a growing family? The answer might be easier than you may think. Many employers are willing to work with employees interested in taking a sabbatical, while some employers outright offer it as a benefit after a certain number of years of service. Alternatively, if you decide to leave your job to embark on such an adventure, it's possible your experiences can put you a step ahead in the interview process when you return. As for your family, many mini-retirees choose to bring their spouse and kids along with them on some if not all of their adventures.

If you're seriously considering taking a mini-retirement, how can you make the most of it?

Step #1: Take enough time to adequately plan and save for your career break; you won't be able to enjoy the time off if you can't finance it.

Step #2: Understand what you're looking for during this time off and make plans to go after it. Sitting at home for two months is not an effective use of a mini-retirement. Instead, rent an apartment abroad and immerse yourself in another culture, write a book of poetry, volunteer to teach English in Africa or become a yoga instructor in between a few freelance jobs; whatever you choose, pursue it wholeheartedly.

Step #3: Use your mini-retirement as the launching pad for the next step in your career. The time you have off provides you with the opportunity to reflect on your working life, think about future goals and make sure that you're doing what really makes you happy. Many people who take a mini-retirement return to their old career reinvigorated and with renewed dedication, while others realize that their former job doesn't match their overall goals in life, and use the break to plan a major career move. Whichever camp you fall into, use your mini-retirement to make the most out of all of your working years.