Is it time for me to take a break?

I really enjoyed your recent blog post about taking a break, but I was wondering what a break that is not constructive looks like? I’ve been thinking about taking a year off of work to go to grad school, or to travel, or to do both, but, as a longtime reader of your blog, I know that you aren’t a fan of either. Do you have any advice for a way to structure the break so that you end up in a better place on the other side of it?

I know that I’m approaching a point in my life that I need a break and to change, but I’m not quite sure that grad school/travel would be a way of avoiding problems instead of changing in order to be better able to face future problems. If it helps, I’m an INFP.

7 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I think you have to ask yourself: break from what?

    It’s very rare to find an INFP that can go to work every day without losing their mind. It’s likely that you are like the rest of those INFPs in that you have a very, very complex mind and you need a lot of thinking time — more than any other type – to sort through those complexities.

    I am pretty certain that if you could see a way to do adult life that would not crush you then you would not necessarily need a break — that is, you could just create a life for yourself that is fulfilling and not exhausting and then you could just do that life.

    You probably need some help creating that life though. It’s not easy to see right away because you are so different from most people; its easier for most people than it is for you to fit into adult life.

    I’d be happy to do a career coaching session with you. The cost of the session would be a lot less expensive than grad school or travel!


  2. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    You say that you know that you’re approaching a point in life that you need a break and to change. Why do you see one as requiring the other? Do you really need to take a break in order to pivot into something new, or can you start applying to new jobs – maybe in a new location even – or start looking for a change in your romantic life while you continue on with what you’re doing.

    Most people can handle more than they think. You might benefit from considering what your goals are for this change, and think hard about the things that you do or don’t need to do to accomplish those goals.

  3. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    You reference Penelope’s blog post about taking a break ( ). The post includes the following sentence which I think is applicable here – “It’s very hard to see our own reality until we step back from it and take a break.” I think it’s applicable as you say you need a break and to change and you’re not quite sure about grad school/travel that you’re currently considering. I’m thinking it would be very helpful for you to spend the first few weeks of your break exploring other options. I think you’ll have a better chance of ‘stepping back’ and seeing your own reality. Also, a career coaching session with Penelope would give you additional perspective and input to your decision(s).

  4. Jen
    Jen says:

    Why can’t “adult life” include intentional breaks? People get breaks thrust on them all the time by crises like health issues, family problems, job loss, divorce, etc. Why not create a life in which periods of following a plan are broken up by periods of spending time doing something completely different, like traveling, learning new skills, pursuing a project, or just getting a different perspective? (That attitude might even make the catastrophic breaks easier to accept.)

    Coaching might be part of the break, but even if you create a great new life now, you still might enjoy and benefit from regularly stepping back and reassessing.

  5. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I have a very dear INFP friend that I worked with for many years. When she was at her breaking point, she seriously considered going to graduate school. At a certain point she realized that zen study was much better suited for her. She spent almost three years at a very involved level, including a yearlong stint at Tassajara.

    She’s learned a lot about herself and how to set up the kind of life she wants during this time. I’m incredibly proud of her. Especially since she did it in a very practical way without going into debt for graduate school.

  6. INFPinSpain
    INFPinSpain says:

    I’m also an INFP, and I so relate with this. I never quite found a job I liked before I left the USA. I started teaching in an inner-city High School as a long-term sub, and after one grading period (9 weeks) couldn’t continue in that role. I decided to take a break and travel to Spain, and then I just never came back to the US…almost 3 years later and I’ve figured out I don’t want to teach in a US school. I want to teach English online and have the flexibility to pursue my music and make enough to support myself. Now my only goal is to find a husband as well, since I’m soon to be 35 female…It’s difficult as I’m artistic and seem to only be attracted to Peter Pan creative types…

  7. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Hi! I am INFP and have to learn and do something new every three to five years. I took several breaks that lasted more than 2 months in 2002, 2005, 2008 to 2009, and 2014 to 2015. After high school, I studied electronics, then science and technology & international affairs, then diplomacy, then worked as a writer, then as a researcher, then studied law, and am now working in a law firm.

    Now, it seems that I am due for a break in 2018 to 2020. While I am happy to help people, it’s tiring for me to speak with people all day and stressing me to make decisions on behalf of others. So maybe I’m losing my mind.

    Anyway, I will be studying copy writing in a seminar and having a coaching call with Penelope on Saturday. Maybe this will give me more meaning, time, and freedom.

Comments are closed.