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How Taking a Gap Year Could Help You Achieve Your Goals

The concept of taking a ‘gap year’ is by no means new. Chances are quite likely you know someone who has taken a gap year or maybe you have thought about taking one yourself but maybe not yet made the final decision to go ahead and take one for one reason or another, be it commitments at home, the financial implications involved, or even a fear of stepping out into the unknown.

Image courtesy of Sarah Whitney, South Africa Wildlife Conservation Volunteer

There is no shame in being afraid of something. Not confronting and overcoming that fear is another matter. But beyond that, there are several other good reasons why you cannot afford not to take a gap year.

First and foremost, taking some time away and placing some physical distance from your current lifestyle, be it one of hustle and bustle or one wherein you feel slow and stagnant, can provide you with the psychological space to reassess what it is you are currently doing. It can help you decide whether it is really right for you, and also to distinguish between things you are doing well and hopefully offer you some insight into what you could be doing better or more efficiently in order to achieve your goals.

Image courtesy of Daniel Melamdowitz, Madagascar Teaching

Secondly, your new environment will allow you to experience what it is like to live a completely different lifestyle and offer fresh perspective on what is working well for you in the lifestyle you are familiar with. Possibly it might also offer you insight into some aspects of your lifestyle that are not working in your favour, but most importantly show you that you really are the one in control of removing those things that are not serving you and changing or tweaking your way of life for the better.

Thirdly, living in another country can afford you great insight into the workings of another culture and help you to understand the way other people think and operate while affording you the opportunity of learning a new language, a quality that is highly regarded among employers.

In addition many employers also seek the skills of independence and courage that many people who have taken gap years display. This could be that, afraid or otherwise, they have had the open mindedness to take the road less travelled, taken the plunge to step into the unknown, and displayed the grit to see it through to the end.

Aside from all of the above there is also the fact of all the cool people you will meet on your gap year from a multitude of backgrounds and different walks of life you otherwise would not have the chance of meeting and getting to know if you stayed in your hometown. Some of these people will become life-long friends and connections that may open up all sorts of new opportunities for you, and who knows, you may even meet the love of your life on your gap year. So what are you waiting for, take the plunge, make the decision to invest in yourself and start planning your gap year today!  

By Alexis Tomlin

Have a look at what qualifications you can gain whilst volunteering, or check out these inspiring gap year ideas.

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