What Is A Sabbatical and Why Should You Take One?

If you’ve been feeling stressed or frustrated with your job lately, one of the best ways to deal with it is by taking a sabbatical. A sabbatical is a period of paid time off of work to pursue personal goals, and it can be incredibly rejuvenating. In the past, sabbaticals were most common in academia, but an increasing number of companies in other industries are now offering sabbaticals to their employees, particularly those who have been there for a long time. There are many benefits to taking a sabbatical - here’s why you should consider it if you have the option.

What is a sabbatical?

The word sabbatical actually stems from the Hebrew concept that you should take one day of rest at the end of every week. There are many different ways to approach a sabbatical, but the difference between just taking some time off and taking a sabbatical is that sabbaticals are typically for the purposes of exploring personal interests, goals, and well-being. Sabbaticals can range in length from a few months to a few years, depending on their purpose. They can also be paid or unpaid, depending on what your company can offer you. Another defining characteristic of a sabbatical is that you can typically expect your position to be open for you when you come back.

Benefits of a sabbatical

There are so many benefits to taking a sabbatical, and many companies are now choosing to offer them because they tend to result in better longevity from their employees. Here’s why you should consider taking a sabbatical, particularly if you’ve been with your company for a long time.

Sabbaticals give you time to focus on personal goals

We know that personal goals are just as important as career goals when it comes to fulfillment and success. However, the reality is that it can be quite difficult to focus on personal goals when work gets busy. By taking a sabbatical, you are giving yourself uninterrupted time to focus on your personal goals. For many people, this helps give their life a new sense of purpose. At the end of a sabbatical, you'll likely find that you've made extensive personal progress and that your life is more well-rounded.

Sabbaticals provide inspiration for your work

If you've been feeling stuck in your career, a sabbatical will give you the time and space you need to find new sources of inspiration. This is particularly true for writers, artists, designers, and musicians - people whose careers rely on their ability to be creative. However, there are so many other careers that can benefit from new sources of inspiration, like academics, entrepreneurs, chefs, or even engineers. You'll be surprised by what you can come up with when you aren't under pressure to create in a certain time frame.

Sabbaticals leave you feeling rejuvenated and motivated

When you have been working at the same job for a long time, it's natural to get bored or frustrated. If you have been feeling this way, taking a sabbatical is one of the best ways to recharge your batteries, so to speak. After a period of time away from work, you will likely feel motivated to get back at it and pursue your career goals. If you've been feeling tempted to quit a job you used to enjoy, taking a sabbatical can be a very good alternative.

Sabbaticals are great for your health

A sabbatical is not only a time for personal career growth, but it's also an excellent opportunity to get your health in order. Stress caused by work can be a contributing factor in a variety of physical problems, including muscle tension, heart problems, stomach problems, and mental health issues like anxiety. Without the stress of work, your body can recover. You will also have much more time to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat a healthy diet, all of which will do wonders for your health if you aren't doing them already. Finally, you will have time to go to the doctor and get treatment for any underlying health problems you might have.

Sabbaticals give you time to try something new

Many people have ideas for things they would like to learn or try, but haven't had the time to really explore them. When you’re on sabbatical, you can dedicate time to trying new things. Whether that’s learning a new skill, joining a sports team, or traveling to a new place, you can really benefit from expanding your horizons. Sabbaticals also give you time to make new friends and expand your social circle, which can be excellent for your mental health. Exploring new things during your sabbatical sets you up for better work-life balance afterwards.

Things to do on sabbatical

There are so many different things you can do while you are on a sabbatical to better your life. Regardless of which one you choose, it’s very important to have a focus for your sabbatical to make sure you stay productive and that you can experience the full mental and emotional benefits of this incredible opportunity. Here are some of the things you might choose to focus on during your sabbatical.

New creative endeavors

A sabbatical is a great time to try a new creative process. If you’ve had a creative idea for a long time that you’ve always put on the backburner because of work, a sabbatical is the perfect time to give it your full attention. For example, many people opt to take a sabbatical to write a book, produce a work or visual art, or record an album. If you’ve never been much of a creative person, a sabbatical is also a great time to explore your creative side. While you are on sabbatical, you can try things like writing or drawing, or even something more performative like acting, dance, or comedy. This newfound creativity can have wonderfully positive effects on your work when you do eventually go back.

Travel

Another very popular reason for taking a sabbatical is to travel. Traveling is very fulfilling and gives you a new perspective on life. It’s also a very good way to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone if you’ve spent much of your life in the same place. By visiting new places, you can discover other cultures and viewpoints, and maybe even learn a few words in a new language. Traveling is also a great exercise in problem solving, because you never know what the world is going to throw your way while you’re on the go.

Spend time with family

Many people would cite their family as one of the most important parts of their life, but it’s difficult to spend as much time with your family as you would like if you are always working. A sabbatical is the perfect time to enjoy time with your family and make memories that will last a lifetime. This is particularly great if you have young children, because you can be with them during a very formative point in their life. Sabbaticals are also very helpful if you have aging parents or other family members that you would like to spend time with, or even need to take care of due to health issues. Even if you aren’t in either of these situations, you can still use a sabbatical to spend more time with your significant other, siblings, or other important family members.

Explore hobbies

During your sabbatical, you can really dive deep into your hobbies and the things you are passionate about. In particular, it gives you time to explore your favorite forms of exercise and get in better shape. For example, if you love yoga, a sabbatical is a perfect time to take a yoga retreat. If you love sports, you will have time to join a recreational team. You can also explore other hobbies in many different ways - you can take art classes, attend local community college, even just spend more time reading.

Go back to school

A very common reason for taking a sabbatical is to get more education. Many people opt to use their sabbatical to get another degree, which they can then use to further their career. Even if you are not getting a degree, you can use your sabbatical to further your education in other ways. For example, you can get new certifications in your field, or you can attend industry seminars or conventions that you might not normally be able to fit into your schedule.

How to Talk To Your Boss About A Sabbatical

Before you can take a sabbatical, you need to address the situation with your boss. If your company already offers sabbaticals, this will be relatively easy. Set up a time to talk with your superiors when there aren’t any pressing deadlines or big projects coming up soon for the company. Make sure you go into the meeting with reasons why both of you could benefit from your taking a sabbatical. You can also approach it by asking them what the typical path it to taking a sabbatical.

If your company doesn’t currently have a sabbatical policy, this is going to be a bit more of a challenge. You will need to convince them why offering sabbaticals will be a good option for them as a company. It will help to find examples of similar companies in your industry that are already offering sabbaticals for their employees. You should also come up with a tentative plan for how the sabbatical could work, taking your company’s policies and projects into account. The more you can make a case for the sabbatical bettering everyone in the company, the more successful you are going to be.

If your company has never done a sabbatical before, chances are they might be hesitant about it. Here are some of the best ways to convince them that a sabbatical is worth it.

Explain to them that a sabbatical will make you a better employee

Your sabbatical will give you time to recharge, take time to further your personal goals, even learn skills that will help you be a better employee when you get back. A sabbatical will help you add long-term value to the company, because you will come back more productive. Make it clear that you’re not just looking for a free ride - explain what you’re planning on doing on your sabbatical and why it’s going to be worth it for them.

Have a plan for how your job is going to get done when you are gone

It may help if you offer to train the person who would take your place. If you know another employee already has the skills, talk to them and get them on board with the idea - they will appreciate the opportunity to move up and take a new challenge for a little while.

Be realistic about what your company can offer

For example, if you work for a small startup with only a few employees, they probably can’t let you take a sabbatical for an entire year, but they may be able to make it work for a month or two. You should also be realistic about getting paid during your sabbatical. Although it’s ideal, in many cases, it’s just not possible.

Don’t be afraid to ask your bosses for a sabbatical if you think you could really benefit from it. The worst they can do is say no, but at least it will put the idea in their heads for the future. You can set a precedent for sabbaticals and for the company valuing the personal growth and goals of employees. Finding longevity in any career can be quite difficult, but sabbaticals are a great way to extend your working life and find more enjoyment in it.