Before we go into the ins and outs on taking a sabbatical or a career break, let me ask you: Did you roll out of bed this morning, rush to get dressed, run to the subway to arrive at work exhausted before the day had even begun? Do you ever wonder why you do what you do, day in day out?
More and more people are realizing that they’re not living their best life, far from it. Many of us feel exhausted and drained and live with the daunting feeling that there’s more to life. If this sounds like you, the good news is, there is!
This is exactly why so many of us are introducing breaks into our professional paths. People are planning sabbatical leave to create time and space to do things they otherwise don’t have the time for. It also allows us to feel that there’s more to life than just work. Adequate rest and play are just as important as work.
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What is a Sabbatical or a Career Break?
A sabbatical and a career break are very similar. They both refer to a period of time off work to pursue something completely different. They usually last about 3 months to 1 year.
A sabbatical usually refers to company policy. A company with a sabbatical policy will allow employees to take time off while guaranteeing them their position upon return. This time off is usually unpaid while the work benefits are paused until you resume work. It’s often only offered to employees that have been with the company for a number of years. Some companies will offer their employees paid sabbaticals. There’s a list of them here.
A career break, on the other hand, refers to a break when the company doesn’t have a sabbatical policy and requires the employee to resign in order to take the time off. The employee will need to reapply for a job after their break and will not be paid during their time off.
Career breaks are often used to reassess your professional life while sabbaticals are more common among those that are established in their professional lives but require some to recharge their batteries.
If you’re on the fence as to why it may be time to take some time off work, let’s take a closer look at a few of the benefits of a sabbatical.
Benefits of Taking a Sabbatical or Career Break
1. Take Care of Your (Mental) Health
A survey done in Great Britain shows there’s an obvious increase in work-related stress, anxiety, and depression among workers, in recent years. The Harvard Business Review, on the other hand, reports that businesses benefit from employees and leaders taking sabbaticals. They become more flexible within their organizational chart. Talk about a win-win!
The American Institute of Stress confirms that job pressure is one of the main causes of stress and the WHO has released data showing depression and anxiety to have a 1 trillion USD impact on the economy. With all the research backing up the ill-effects of stress on our general health and the economy, it’s obvious why everyone should take a sabbatical!
It’s a great opportunity to improve healthy habits, break bad ones and start leading your best life!
2. Time to Try Something New
Repetitiveness and boredom will manifest at one point in your professional life. Besides your job tasks, you also get into a routine where you end up feeling like there’s no time for much besides work, the gym, Netflix and an occasional catch up with friends.
Although routine and good habits give us stability and help us thrive, shaking things up with something new can definitely help us out a rut and get our creative juices flowing.
Trying something new is the best way to open yourself up to something you love or guide you on a path to finding something that makes your heartbeat just that little bit faster. For some of us, sabbatical leave may be necessary to break free from the daily grind and try those things on our bucket list.
Clinal psychologist Andrea Kuszewski explains there’s a lot going on when you learn something new. Learning something new has a waterfall effect, streaming into all aspects of your life and making you better at just about everything! Read more about the positive impact of learning new things here, you’ll be surprised!
3. Achieve a Personal Goal
Achieving a personal goal can really boost your confidence and catapult you into pursuing other things you never thought possible. Whether its learning Spanish, hiking the Kilimanjaro or learning how to surf, achieving something you’ve always wanted to will leave you feeling empowered.
Sometimes we need time off to make these goals happen. A sabbatical may be exactly what you need to carve out time and space for your personal goal. It’s very likely you’ll return to work a changed person after spending this precious time on yourself and achieving what you set out to do.
4. Gain a New Perspective
People often take a sabbatical or career break after a trying time in their lives. Nothing shines a different light on your problems than a new environment. A sabbatical or career break allows you to take time and create distance to reassess your life and gain a different perspective.
Neuroscientist Dr. Paul Nussbaum says that traveling is excellent for your brain because it grows its capacity! There’s no doubt you’ll be looking at things with a different brain. An interesting article from the Chicago Tribune will go into greater detail on the positive health benefits of travel.
After sabbatical leave, you may find that some things you considered obstacles are no longer obstacles. Especially after meeting new people and learning about their lives. We promise you won’t regret it.
Why Volunteer during your Sabbatical?
Many of us dream of finding the time to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. There’s plenty of research proving that volunteering is beneficial to volunteers and lots of volunteers say they get more out of volunteering than they put in.
Shaking Off the Daily Grind
Volunteering during your career break is a great way to quickly undo yourself from the daily grind and rebalance an overworked brain. You’ll explore your new environment and learn new tasks that will help support your volunteer organization. Whether you’re learning how to feed baby sloths or how to calculate the distance between you and the pod of whales, there’s good stuff happening in your brain.
Benefits of Volunteering
By volunteering, you’re helping less fortunate communities, the environment, or animals. You’re doing something that will make you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. You’ll also form strong bonds with other volunteers who share your interest in the volunteer project and passion for helping others.
Forbes published an interesting list of benefits when it comes to volunteering, you can check it out, here.
What you Should Know Before Taking a Sabbatical
We just made it sound very easy to take sabbatical leave. In the perfect world, everyone would have the right to take time off to work on themselves and be guaranteed their jobs upon their return.
More and more companies are offering their employees the opportunity to take a sabbatical. The society of Human Resource Management did research showing a rise up to 17% of employers offering employees the option of a paid or unpaid sabbatical. This has become an important benefit in order to retain talent, but it’s not common practice yet at all.
Although a professional break may seem unattainable to you, we’re convinced that with some determination and the right preparation, it’s absolutely doable. Here’s a list of some of the things you may need to think about before pausing things for a while.
The first step is making sure you have the financials to afford the time off. It may take a while to save up the money you’ll need. You’ll also need to plan ahead. Figure out how long you want to take off and do some research on the things you’re going to do.
If your employer doesn’t have a sabbatical policy and the chances are small you’ll be returning to your current job, you may need to create more financial buffer in case you don’t immediately find another job upon returning. Get a feel for what kind of jobs you can do once you get back, just for your peace of mind.
2. Telling your Employer
Talk it over with your employer. Whether you’re coming back or not, you’ll want to leave on good terms. Make sure you leave at an appropriate time that works for both parties. If you’re hoping to come back to your job, you may have to sell your employer on the idea and think everything through in detail. The better you’re prepared, the more likely they’ll incline.
3. Breaking the News to Friends and Family
Practice your “I’m taking a sabbatical” pitch that you’ll be telling your friends and family. Be prepared for some adverse reactions. Some people may be quite envious of your plans but don’t let it discourage you.
4. Making Arrangements
You’ll need to take steps to make sure there aren’t any loose ends while you’re gone:
- Will you move out of your place, sublease it? Will you need to rent storage or store it at a friend’s place?
- Who will collect your mail and make sure your bills don’t go unpaid?
- Get the necessary travel and health insurance to make sure you’re covered in case anything happens.
That’s it! We hope we’ve provided you with some food for thought on living your best life and why a sabbatical may be right for you.
We’d love to hear what you’d love to do during your sabbatical. Please let us know in the comments below! 👇🏽
We hope volunteering is on your bucket list 📃 because volunteer organizations worldwide really need courageous badasses like you to help. We’d love to help you find your ideal sabbatical volunteer opportunity, the world is at your feet!🌍