Use Your Gap Year to Build Your Resume

Let me open with a question: What are you passionate about?

Don’t rush on to the next sentence to find out what I’m going to say about that. Stop. Think. Give your mind and your heart a few minutes to whisper in the corner about that.

What are you passionate about?

Our passions are the things that drive us (or should!) They are the things that we are most interested in. The things that we feel most strongly about. The causes that we feel compelled to support.

Too many people at your stage of life put aside their passions, and the big dreams that go with them, in favor of “doing the next thing” or doing the expected thing, or doing the “right” thing. What they fail to realize is that you passions and your dreams should determine what your next thing and your right thing should be.

Your career path, ideally, should be born out of your passions. What you study in school should be decided by what lights your fire, not what you think will make a little money when you get out. The career path you embark on should be set on the foundation stone of your dreams.

So, let me ask you again: What are you passionate about?

One of two things just happened: Either your brain just exploded in fireworks and inspiration started pouring forth in the form of one and two word answers that are miles deep. Or, there were crickets in your head… chirping… silence… “I got nothin’.”

If your brain is exploding, get a pen, start writing it all down, everything that comes to mind. Make lists. Write paragraphs. Delve into those passions and explore the corners.

For me, my passions include:

  • Travel
  • Writing
  • Education
  • Art
  • Literacy projects
  • Humanitarian work in developing countries
  • Expanding ecological awareness
  • Encouraging others to live their dreams
  • Learning languages

What’s your list?

Now for you people with the crickets

This is a serious problem.

Let me assure you that you do, in fact, have passions. You’ve had them in the past. They’re just latent somewhere. They’ve gotten buried under layers of demoralizing realities. You’ve let them die.

No more.

Beginning today you’re going to start actively seeking your passions.
You’re going to make time to think about them. You’re going to prioritize feeding them. You’re going to allow yourself, no, require yourself to develop your passions.

Why? Because the first step to living a passion driven life is having some.

Here are some questions to get your juices flowing:

  • What would you do if you could do anything at all?
  • What does your perfect day look like?
  • If you could change the world in one way, what would you do?
  • What do you wish you had more time to do?
  • What makes you fighting mad?

One of the big reasons that a trip, like the one you are planning, is valuable is that travel gives a person time to explore the passions they know they have and opens her up to a whole new world of possibility as new ones are discovered.

If you already have a pretty good idea of what you want to do with your life, in terms of your education path and your career, great! You have an excellent opportunity to use this adventure to expand your resume and add academic, or career skills, value to your future plans. What you choose to do with this time abroad could leap frog you over your stay-at-home peers in ways that give you a distinct advantage as you begin your work life. Think carefully about that.

If you have no idea whatsoever what you want to do with the next phase of your life and you’re not too sure what, exactly, your passions are either, then that’s all the more reason that you need this trip. Don’t push forward, or let others push you forward, into a life that is not consciously of your own choosing.

Stop, if you need to, and look around.
Figure out what it is that drives you and then head in that direction. It could be that this journey will be all about discovering who you are and what you want to do, exploring the possibilities of your future paths. That’s okay too, but be intentional about it, actively seek the direction you need and be open to the lessons the world will bring you.

Today, I want you to do three things:

Answer the question: What are you passionate about?
Be as thorough as you possibly can. If you honestly have no idea and can’t come up with one single thing, then answer this question: What would you be interested in exploring further, learning more about, or experiencing while you’re abroad?

Think hard about how you can expand your passions and your areas of interest as you travel and how you might actively build those into your travel plans.
Use this trip to explore the ideas and interests that might form the next phase of your life

Write the above list of questions into the front of your journal.
Don’t have a journal yet? Go get one. You’ll need it. As you prepare for this trip, and as you travel, periodically return to one or more of those questions and see if anything changes for you. Contained in the answers, you may just find your life’s work!

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