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Should you take sabbatical leave? Here’s how to find out

Deciding to take sabbatical leave can be difficult. Thoughts of money, your job, commitments come to mind and stop sabbatical dreams before they begin. The key to thinking it through is working out where you are in your life and career and what a sabbatical could bring to your life. Find your sabbatical purpose, and you're on your way!

Have you ever dreamed of taking a couple of months off to recharge and pursue a dream but worried it’ll be a big mistake? You’re not alone. This is one of the most common fears and ultimately, one of the biggest reasons people never take a sabbatical. Making sure your sabbatical is the best decision you ever made – for your career and your life – is all about being crystal clear on the purpose of your sabbatical and what you need from it.

Find your sabbatical “why”

As the purpose guru, Simon Sinek says, ‘Start with Why’. This is just as true for your sabbatical as it is for finding your purpose in life and business. Knowing why you want to take your sabbatical and what it will do for your life and career is the first step in being able to position it with the people who matter.

To understand why you want to take a sabbatical, you need to understand where you’re at in your life and career. To figure this out, I’ve created the Sabbatical Purpose Matrix.

To figure out your sabbatical purpose

1) Consider your overall level of satisfaction with your career. Think of this as your career direction, not your present job situation. If your current direction continued, would you be content?

2) Think about your overall energy levels across your whole life. Do you feel you have enough energy to meet the demands of your work and life?

Recharger – These people love their career but are just feeling exhausted by the pace of life and work. By taking a break to do what they love or spend time with loved ones, they recharge their energy and return to work refreshed and able to sustain their performance for the long term.

Rebooter – These people are on the path to burn out if nothing changes. They’ve lost their purpose and passion for work and have no energy to make a change. The first priority for their sabbatical is to revive their wellbeing – body and mind. This gives them the energy to ask the big questions about what’s serving them in their life, what’s not, and what to do about it.

Refocuser – These people are ready to step up their career or move in a new direction. They have the energy to plough straight into trying out new things to experiment, learn and be inspired for what’s next.

Reacher – These people love their work, love their life and are full of energy. But they have big dreams and a long bucket list and there are some things on their bucket list that just can’t be done in a few weeks of vacation. They want to climb Everest, build an orphanage or write a book. That takes time! The sabbatical is their ticket to achieving their life dreams.

Once you know your sabbatical purpose, you can make the most of the experience and maximise the benefit to your life and career. You can design and plan the experience that will give you the most value for what you really need. Read more about how to plan a sabbatical so you can Plan like a Pro.

What’s important for most people is to be honest about where you’re at and what you need from your sabbatical. This can be confronting. People may not like the realisation that they’re in the reboot quadrant and heading towards a burn out. It may be easier to shy away from the big scary truth that you don’t like your career. Being honest with yourself is the first step to getting the most out of your sabbatical.

Of course, anyone can have a long bucket list of things you’d love to do on your sabbatical! But understanding what you need out of your sabbatical will curb the common desire to jam pack your sabbatical months with a long list of things to do, without giving yourself the time or space to recharge or focus the questions you want to answer.

If you’re a Rebooter and your plan is to travel to seven continents in seven weeks… red flag! You’ll come back more exhausted. You may be better served to pick a few destinations that are the top of your list and relax into a slower travel pace, watching the magic unfold as you regain your energy, passion and purpose.

If you’re struggling to figure out where you are on the Matrix, or you know where you are but you have no idea what to do about it, book your complimentary discovery session with me. These sessions are designed to help ignite your sabbatical plan so you can live your best sabbatical.

So… what would you do with a couple of months of freedom?

Beyond a Break exists to help people navigate their way to a sabbatical and supports organisations to create better sabbatical programs that recharge their people. Have a look at our free resources, or simply get in touch. We’re here to help you find a way to take a break that goes beyond.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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