While it’s tempting to think that the best time to dive into your career is immediately after you graduate, the truth is that taking a one-year pause after university may actually lead you to a more fulfilling job later on. Making the appropriate career decision is crucial if you want to avoid hating your job in the future. It seems paradoxical, but the period immediately after graduation is the best time to take a step back and gain some perspective on the road you’re about to embark on.
If you’re thinking that this is just another article about ‘finding yourself’, it’s not! Taking a year to travel has many benefits, but one of the most often overlooked ones is that it sets you up to be better at your future job. The valuable lessons learned, and the lifelong experiences to be had, aren’t the kind that you’ll find by doing anything else.
In this article, let’s take a look at some of the many ways that taking a year to travel after college sets you up for a stronger career afterward.
Travel Brings Perspective
While it may sound obvious, nothing gives you a new perspective on the world quite like travel. This goes beyond simply observing different cultures and customs: you’ll need to navigate completely alien situations with unfamiliar rules and surprising twists at every turn. This process is as much about discovering the world as it is about discovering the things that excite you most!
Here’s the thing: when you’re constantly facing unfamiliar situations, you’re bound to find things that interest you that you would have never imagined before. Those interests can quickly turn into passions that you’d like to pursue. The same is true about the myriad of people you’ll meet. Traveling, especially on a budget, brings you face to face with characters that you’d otherwise never get to know. Their insights can often shape your interests, passions, and pursuits!
You may feel like you already know what you’d like to do with your life – after all, you’re going to graduate college soon, so it seems like it’s already decided. But the truth is that discovering new things doesn’t have to undermine your career trajectory. The new ways of looking at things that come from travel, coupled with the newfound interests and passions you’ll pick up along the way, are almost all applicable to your existing career path.
Those unfamiliar situations are effectively unique challenges, and the ways of overcoming them that you’ll learn along the way are all going to be useful later on. While knowing how to hop onto a moving train in India may not seem applicable to work in an office, the patience, timing, and bravery you’ll need to leap on board are all things you’ll need for years and years to come.
Become Resilient to Pressure
Another commonly-overlooked skill that can be developed through travel is learning how to handle pressure. Often, in work environments, we face the same type of pressure from clients, bosses, and deadlines. We gradually become accustomed to it. However, when something unexpected happens, many people don’t know how to react calmly because they’re only used to solving a certain type of problem.
Here’s where travel comes in: every day you’re going to be faced with unusual and unexpected challenges. Language barriers, unfamiliar roads, uprooted travel plans and logistical breakdowns. It’s a part of the experience. While it’s daunting at first, learning how to ride the chaos calmly is one of the most rewarding things you can experience.
More importantly, it gives you the adaptability and flexibility to excel in any number of stressful or unexpected work-related situations. Your ability to find new ways of solving problems can only be developed when you’re forced to solve new problems over and over again!
It’s Easier Than It Seems
The truth is that it’s very, very easy to talk yourself out of traveling after college. After all, this is the moment you’ve thought of as the jumping-off point in your career! You’re expecting to dive right into your job, and earn money to put towards paying off any debt you’ve accumulated while you were in university.
While it may seem financially sound to get right into work after you graduate, money doesn’t have to be nearly as big of an obstacle as it seems. First of all, the perspective you gain from travel may lead you to a career that’s far more lucrative down the line, since you’re bound to perform better in a job that better matches your personality and interests.
Even more importantly, there are plenty of ways to make money while you’re on the road. Traveling for a year is different than taking a ten-day vacation – you need to be working during your trip in order to make ends meet. For example, according to Lensa, now is one of the best possible times to look into self-employed jobs. Working remotely while traveling can give you the time and space to enjoy your experience to the fullest, instead of constantly worrying about your money.
Learn to Overcome Anxiety
At this point, if you’re still hesitating to take that trip, try to remember that nervousness is completely natural before any major change in your life. It’s simply a signal that you’re heading iFnto uncharted territory, and it’s normal for our minds to resist anything unfamiliar. After all, what’s known is what’s safe!
The trick is to change your perception about what nervousness and apprehension really are: they’re not feelings to be avoided, they’re feelings to embrace. If you seldom experience nervousness, it’s a sign that your life is more stagnant than it should be, especially at so young of an age!
One of the best ways to learn how to overcome these feelings is simply to embrace travel as soon as possible. You don’t even have to wait until you’ve graduated: there are plenty of ways that you can hit the road even sooner.
Finally, remember that every minute spent outside of your comfort zone somewhere new is a minute spent shaping your future and your identity. By trying new things over and over again, you’ll develop the skills and confidence to overcome nervousness about bigger and even more important steps down the line. There’s no better way to do that than through traveling.
What are you waiting for – get out there and do it!