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Want to press pause on your career? Nine tips

It takes courage to put a successful career on hold, but the payoff can be huge.

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1. Is it good for you?

Be honest with yourself. It’s a big and costly decision, so be clear about why you’re taking a break.

2. Have a plan

You may have only one career break. Know what you want to accomplish.

3. Leave gracefully

Ask for a leave of absence or give plenty of notice. Remember, you may want your job – or at least references – later.

4. Count your pennies

A career break can cost as much as a new car or a renovated bathroom. Be realistic about how much money you’ll need to cover your expenses, and keep extra aside for emergencies, an unexpectedly long job search or a final flight of fancy.

5. Stay in touch

Whether you’re volunteering in Africa or taking art classes across town, keep your professional network informed so you can reconnect easily when it’s time to work again.

6. Don’t stay away too long

Most career breaks last six months to a year. Anything longer and you risk being left behind.

7. Dare to dream

This is an unrehearsed time, so don’t be afraid to try the new and different.

8. Sell your new skills

Sure, you’ve been off the job, but along the way you gained new experiences, took incredible risks and coped with massive change.

9. Account for your time away

An employer will want to know what you did and what you can show for it.