How To Make the Most of Your Gap Year
“I’m taking a year off for myself.”
I don’t know how many times I said that when I explained that I wasn’t going to college with my friends. I was having a year off to take a breather, find myself, and figure out what I really wanted to do.
Truth is: High school had really taken it out of me and I needed a break before I dove headfirst into another three years (at least) of study.
I had people left, right, and centre asking what I was planning on doing, what I wanted to achieve and whether I was going to go to university. I planned on making the most of my gap year through taking time out to focus on myself, my goals, and figure out how I was going to tackle the rest of my life.
After all, that’s the point of a gap year.
I moved out, saved money by working my ass off, and applied to university. I entered my first year of university debt-free and with valid, real-world experience. I achieved my goals (and then some) and entered university as the best version of myself, ready to absolutely kill it when it came to the next three years.
Who could ask for a better gap year experience?
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your gap year.
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Decide What You Want to Achieve
What do you want to do with your year of ‘freedom’? Do you want to travel, get work experience or pay off your debt? Create the ‘big goal’ and break it into bite-sized chunks.
Remember to take time to have fun and travel, too. These really are the best years of your life. Remember to live them.
Travel with Purpose
Pack your bag and choose the first departing flight! There’s no reason why you can’t travel. Travel until your heart is content, but travel with purpose.
Sign up for an international exchange, teach English as a first language or take up an internship/job in another country! Find a way to travel and satisfy your wanderlust whilst making your resume shine brighter than ever.
Do Something for Yourself
Have you always wanted to start a blog? Do it!
Want to learn a new language? Immerse yourself in the culture as you travel or take a language class.
Want to read fifty-two books? Do it!
It’s ok to not know what you want to do in the future. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
Unsure about what job sector you want to enter? Check the job boards and see if anyone is hiring on a part-time, casual or contract basis. If you can’t find any jobs, pitch yourself to a company! Tell them you have a day (or two) a week to work for them for free and see the offers roll in.
Sooner or later, a company will create a position for you and you’ll have the real world experience you’re wanting.
Find or Create a Side-Hustle
Time to face reality: These days, it is hard to get ahead.
People aren’t simply waking up, going to work and going home anymore. We’re waking up early, working on our side hustle, going to our “real job” then coming home and working on our side hustle again.
My advice is to find something you love.
Work in a stuffy office environment? Start a side-hustle as a personal trainer, a blogger or freelance photographer.
Work in the creative sector? Offer your services as a freelance content creator, social media manager or virtual assistant.
Point is: Find something you love and work on it.
Really Decide What You Want To Do
Right, you decided what you wanted to do for the year. Now you need to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.
I like working, so choosing to go back to school was difficult; however, I like learning and degrees are highly regarded, so it seemed like ‘the smart choice’.
If you choose to go to university, you have to choose your degree, major and minor, and classes. If you choose to work, you have to choose which sector you want to work in and if you want to be full-time or have the flexibility of part-time to have that coveted ‘work-life balance’.
You will never get to sleep as much as you do right now. Treasure that moment.
Go to bed early, sleep in and nap whenever you can.
A gap year can be the best, most productive thing you do with your time before joining ‘the real world’. Whatever you do, don’t end the year with any regrets!
Let’s Talk: Have you taken a gap year? How did you spend your time?