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Kristen Field was clocking in 12-hour days at a nonprofit when her father died and she realized she needed a change, fast. “Losing my dad woke me up to the value of the time we have,” she says. With six months of expenses saved, she quit her job and explored eight countries, mainly staying at inexpensive hotels and with friends; all told, she took about a year off before returning to full-time work.

It may be hard to fathom, especially at this tumultuous cultural moment, but many women are ditching their 9-to-5 to find something more fulfilling: Nearly three in ten highly qualified women report that they’ve quit their job to take a short break at some point in their career. True, it’s a risk. (These days, it takes the unemployed roughly six to seven months to land a new job.) Yet sometimes the rewards are worth it. Intrigued? Consider the following: