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Should I Stay Or Should I Go; Knowing If A Work Sabbatical Is Right For You

A successful career in business is no longer solely measured by how successful was that fiscal year was for the company that employs you. As mindfulness, self-care, and burnout culture rise in the collective consciousness of individuals and corporations alike, success is measured partly by how fulfilled you are in your vocation. Instances are abundant […]

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A successful career in business is no longer solely measured by how successful was that fiscal year was for the company that employs you. As mindfulness, self-care, and burnout culture rise in the collective consciousness of individuals and corporations alike, success is measured partly by how fulfilled you are in your vocation.

Instances are abundant in one’s career when they have to put their head down and power through demanding and overwhelming workloads just to come out on the other side and meet the precedent they set with their productivity. A strong work ethic is a prerequisite to reach ambitious career goals in business. But is the model of working for four decades straight with two weeks of vacation per, the most efficient model for a productive and satisfied workforce? The increasing movement of employees taking career breaks or sabbaticals would lead one to believe that the old ways of doing business are outdated.

A sabbatical, derived from the Hebrew word Sabbath, is when someone puts their profession, on a day to day operational sense, on pause to reflect and to focus on separate pursuits.

Once released from their work-related obligations, they then turn their concentration to mentally resetting, traveling, discovering new passions, learning different aspects of their trade on their terms, volunteering, and exploring what one finds fulfilling work.

The concept is one that those feeling stagnant or even those quickly moving up the ladder should consider as its an investment in yourself. Point being, anyone can talk themselves into taking a leave of absence; however, it may not always be accessible or the right time for you to partake.

A sabbatical is a stoplight at your career crossroads, but just because it’s green doesn’t mean you should go, and the same goes for if the illuminated indicator is red. You have to ask yourself a series of questions when considering a deviation from the workweek normative.

Is the timing right, and do you have enough money to finance this venture? Do you have dependents? Are you secure enough in your path professionally that can you restart your career without a hitch once your journey of self-discovery has commenced? Does the monthly budget you’ll have to live off of leave room to continue to grow your retirement funds?

You’ll have to figure out the answers to these questions before you proceed. Exercising in a vocational recess requires a lot of hard work and preparation. If it’s still compelling to you to move forward, here are some integral steps one must consider when preparing to take an extended absence from work.

There is no uniformed sabbatical policy that all businesses adhere to at a base level. Leaves of absence aren’t on every organization’s radar; they may lack the guidelines, have trepidations about instating any protocol, and likely have no systems in place. You and your bosses may find yourself in uncharted territories. You could still get paid a portion of your salary for the time off, or you can voluntarily punt on your paychecks with the promise to return to your firm.

It is incumbent upon you to communicate to your boss or team on how a sabbatical will mutually benefit all parties. Positioning yourself to maximize your effectiveness and fulfillment with your career is imperative. Still, it’s equally essential to get your organization on board with your decision if you look to return to your same role. There’s a growing movement of corporations offering the opportunity to reset and come back to work.

If you are self-employed, reaching out to your freelance clients, explaining why you won’t be open to more projects to unlock your full potential to which you’ll parlay into more efficient productivity. You’ll need to have your exit and return strategy thought out and thoroughly detailed.

Sticking to start and stop dates of your leave is imperative to keep things focused. Even if you plan to relax for the first couple of weeks, you’ll need to keep an eye on the horizon. An indefinite sabbatical can create anxiety and leave you putting things off. 

Your agenda should be that all the activities you engage in stick to your theme of self-growth. Once settled in, it seems counter-intuitive to the process to craft a routine, but ultimately this sabbatical isn’t about you wandering; it’s about you finding yourself through new experiences and challenges. 

Accountability partners and setting mile makers can guide you towards a successful sabbatical. It’s crucial to maintain progress and setting personal goals. Having someone you trust keeping tabs on you to hold you responsible with objectives you installed yourself is essential. Stay connected with your coworkers and bosses. Avoid being out of sight, out of mind, as the company continues operations and planning for the future.

If you don’t intend to return to your previous position, be sure to modernize your CV with the experiences you had in volunteering, classes you participated in, or any new skills you may have added.

If taking a sabbatical isn’t practical in your current situation, there are alternative practices that can get you closer to your desired effect. Try working three fewer days a month, disconnect from devices 90 minutes a day, have a day a month where you’re entirely unreachable, and practice mindfulness. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Whether you choose to stay at your post for the time being or decided to branch out so you can return as a rejuvenated productive member of a team, doing what’s right for you personally and professionally will always be the correct course of action.

Follow Mark Holyoake on Medium and Crunchbase.

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