Meet the famous women taking career breaks: and why you should do it too

Posted by
Harriet Hall
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Ellie Goulding has become the latest celebrity to announce a career break.

The Brit Award-winning pop star, who is currently on tour for her third album, has told The Sun newspaper that she will be taking prolonged time off next year:

“I’m not writing new stuff,” says Goulding. “I need time off for my own head.”

The singer, who recently broke-up with her on-off boyfriend, McFly bassist Dougie Poynter, went on to say:

“I need to live a bit. Who knows? My situation has changed.”

Goulding admitted that, while forging a hugely successful career in music was undoubtedly a dream come true, being on tour can certainly take its toll, saying:

“It’s not as enjoyable as it could be, I don’t really have that much of a social life because of what I do.”

The news comes less than a month after Emma Watson announced her own career break, and two months after Kristen Stewart did the same.

So who are these young female celebrities taking career breaks - and why should you follow suit? Read on to find out..

Emma Watson

In February, actor Emma Watson announced she was going to take a year off from appearing on the silver screen to work on her own “personal development” and to focus on her role as UN Woman Goodwill Ambassador.

The 25-year-old Harry Potter star told Paper magazine that she wants to spend a year studying feminist literature and focus on her HeForShe campaign.

Kristen Stewart

In January, the Twilight star, Kristen Stewart, 25, announced a sabbatical from Hollywood, telling American talk-show hosts: “I need to breathe.”

After working for “a solid two years,” Stewart said she wanted to pursue some hobbies, "think about other forms of art I want to create," and simply “stay at home for a while.”


This year, Adele returned to the charts after a five-year singing hiatus, and relieved us all of the struggle of being without her music.

In 2012, the multi-award-winning singer told American Vogue that she would be “f**king off for four or five years,” because “if I am constantly working, my relationships fail.”

Luckily, we were only without Adele for three years whilst she looked after her new son, Angelo, and wrote another heart rending album,25, which smashed all records.


In 2009 aged only 27, Beyoncé told the world press she was going to put work on hold for two years while she focused on her personal life, because her “priorities are changing” and she “might be tired.”

In the end, the superstar couldn’t resist returning to the stage, and spent only nine months away, travelling the world, before returning to headline Glastonbury.

Why should you take a career break?

At a time when we’re faced with increasing pressures to work until we collapse, and the entire world seems to be suffering from a level of anxiety, a career break sounds like a sensible choice to rediscover a decent work/life balance.

But it’s one thing if you’re rich and famous – warm in the comfort that you most definitely won’t go hungry or miss a rent payment – but is it really a good idea for those of us who don’t have such privileges?

We spoke with two career experts who told that, while you should always approach a career break with caution, it’s not always a bad idea.

Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management:

“Sometimes there are things more important in life than working – so don’t be afraid to take a career break,” says Mills.

“Whether it is for travelling, some chill out time or because you want to spend time with the family or studying.”

But, in order to ensure you don’t burn all bridges and hop on a flight to Australia without thinking, Mills says you should follow some guidelines:

“Do keep an eye on how you might return.  Always end your relationship with your employer on positive terms – you’ll need a good reference, and who knows they might have something interesting to tempt you back in the future.”

Also, it’s good to think about the future:

“You will also need to explain your break to a future employer,” says Mills, “especially if you want to go for a permanent role.”

“As long as you reassure them that you are not planning to take another break any time soon, that you are motivated to do the job and you haven’t let your skills lapse – it should be fine.”

Career Mentor Penny Davenport:

“Review your options carefully before you make any big decisions,” says Davenport. “What kind of break do you need and why? It is a good opportunity to consider where you are now and where you want to be.

Taking a career break will allow you to grow and gain new skills along the way.  We often become wiser and braver when we travel.

We can fear taking a break because we feel we might get left behind or won’t get a job when we return. However what we can gain is a better insight into who we are and what we want to become. 

A celebrity will be more financially stable, which takes that pressure off, but taking time to recharge, take stock of life and make plans for the future is always a good idea whatever career you are in.

Anyone can find themselves in the wrong career all too easily and an adult gap year offers the perfect opportunity to review a career and think carefully about what works / suits and what doesn’t. It’s easier to consider what you are good at, and what you enjoy, when you have some distance from work.

Career breaks can add more perspective and creativity to someone’s working life. One of our best assets in the workplace is self-awareness of strengths, weaknesses and emotions, and this develops with life experience.”