For decades, students have been taking time off after high school or college to travel, work, volunteer or just to gain new experiences. But these days, it's not just young people taking time off as a growing number of New Jersey residents in their 40s and 50s are pursuing what is known as mid-career gap time.

Illya Vinogradov, ThinkStock

"Sometimes people won't take a full year off and they may take time in bits and pieces. The gap time can be tailored to somebody's individual situation, but many of them are asking 'Am I happy with what I'm up to, or what kind of a change might I like to take?," said Holly Bull, president of the Center for Interim Programs in Princeton.

When adults pursue mid-career gap time, it often involves making significant changes like taking a year off from work. "If there's enough of a feeling of, 'Wow, I really need to make a change here,' then people are willing to make it happen," Bull said.

Gap time allows adults to take on a new challenge, reinvent themselves, get a break in their routine or to find a new career, according to Bull.

It can take on many different forms and time frames depending on what sort of experience the person is looking to gain from taking mid-career gap time.  "It can be a weeklong wilderness survival skills course. It could be a monthlong intensive filmmaking course, learning how to run a recording studio," Bull said.

During their time off, people may be searching for answers

"People may be asking, 'Is what I'm up to - does it give me purpose, is this meaningful to me?,'" Bull said.

When an adult decides to take gap time, they're choosing what they want to do.  "There is  more sense of a purpose that suits your interests and what you're about in your life," Bull said.

When people come to Bull's center in an effort to pursue gap time, they begin by circling areas of interest and then Bull matches them with concrete options.  "A lot of the fun of this work is opening doors for people."

To learn more about mid-career gap time, click here.