Formerly a perk reserved for professors, more professionals are looking into taking a sabbatical from work, to refresh their skills, reset their goals or simply to explore something new. A sabbatical might involve a trip abroad for several months, a volunteer stint or exploring a new passion.
A period of paid or unpaid leave – typically ranging from a couple months to a year – sabbaticals are still most common in higher education, but about 20 percent of companies now offer this opportunity for professional or personal growth. Companies generally require that you have worked there for a certain time period and some will not guarantee employment or the same position upon return, so there may be an element of risk.
If you have been struggling with wanderlust or the desire to try something new, a sabbatical might be the answer. First, make sure you have a plan mapped out that you can share with your employer; this should outline what you will do, how it may benefit the company, the expected timeline and overall goals. Stay positive: Rather than complaining of burnout, explain how this sabbatical will bolster your language or negotiating skills. Flexibility may be your best bet – for instance, you could forgo a raise in return for three months of leave. If you do not receive permission, you may need to consider whether this pursuit is worth leaving your current position.
If you do move forward with a sabbatical:
You can use a sabbatical to follow a lifelong dream or pursue a new focus. You may find yourself at the end with new personal and career goals and a renewed sense of self and purpose. If you are unable to get away for an extended period of time, however, you may be able to take one day a month for yourself or a pet project – you might consider ways of adopting the notion of sabbatical into your everyday life.
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