Is It Time to Take a Sabbatical?

By Megan Morrow
Published June 3, 2019

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:

  • Establish (and stick to) a budget, particularly if your leave is unpaid; you will likely want to save a designated amount ahead of time to ensure you have ample funds for your journey.
  • Set some goals for the experience and check in with them regularly; determine how you will benefit yourself and also your company with the sabbatical experience.
  • Expect the unexpected and allow for flexibility; try to slow down and savor this time and disconnect when possible.
  • Keep in touch with your employer and colleagues and ensure that they are apprised of your plans for return.

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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The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor. The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.

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