What is a sabbatical?
Historically a sabbatical meant a rest from work for about a year. It is referenced in the Holy Bible as the time when God rested after creating the universe.
In today’s context, a sabbatical has a very similar meaning – a long absence from our career, during which we plan to achieve something like writing a book, travelling afar, running a side project, or study for a new subject or course.
A sabbatical is treated differently in each company. Some organizations offer a paid leave to pursue higher studies, research etc., The others grant an unpaid leave of absence for a career break.
Planning for a sabbatical
The first step is to find your purpose for a sabbatical. You need to ask yourself some soul-searching questions
Here are some tips to pick your best do:
- Pick an activity that you’d enjoy doing.
Visualize where you want to be at the end of your sabbatical.
Devise your periodic goals (e.g. monthly) to take you to your destination.
Going on a sabbatical requires a lot of mental preparation on various aspects of your work and life. Some of the key areas you would want to consider are:
- Financial security – planning your finances during and a little beyond your gap year.
Possibility of having your job after the sabbatical
Opportunity cost – what would you have got by continuing your work vs., taking the break
Eliminating the negatives
The negative forces that prevent a vast majority of the workforce from going for a sabbatical are usually their own mind blocks like:
- Fear of the unknown
Self-doubt – “am I capable of a come back?”, “will I end up losing?”
Scarcity thinking – that the jobs might vanish soon
Being more mindful is the key to alleviating your internal fears and insecurities. Believe in yourself and your ability to learn something new and make a progress.
Preparing your employer
Here are some steps you need to execute to work out your sabbatical arrangement with your employer:
Step 1. Do your homework before you broach the topic with your folks
- Check your company’s HR/people policies around sabbatical or leave of absence. Find out the paid and unpaid options that exist
Be aware of the formalities you need to complete
List out whom you need to talk to – your immediate supervisor, department head, business partners, clients etc.,
Check the benefits you would retain, the ones you have to forgo, and the ones that would resume when you join back
Step 2. Prepare your discussion with your management. Have a plan for them handy.
Give them the details like
- Time and duration of your break
Who would fill in your shoes
How you would transition your responsibilities
How you would put your newly gained skills to use at work, once you are back
Step 3. Set up the meeting with your manager to discuss your sabbatical arrangements. Anticipate her questions. Be prepared to negotiate the timing, duration, transition plan etc., Offer to help where possible and where needed.
Step 4. Once your manager approves your sabbatical, complete the necessary formalities with HR/your department administration. Talk to other supporting staff if needed. Work with your manager to complete what you committed.
After the gap year
Once you’ve executed on your plan, these tips can help you step into the next phase of your journey:
- Be an avid networker. Go to meet-ups and professional networking events. Talk to as many people about your interests, aspirations and engage in meaningful conversations with people in your field of choice
Keep your profile updated with your current skills, knowledge, experiences, projects, and volunteering opportunities
Have your career break listed on your profile and mention your accomplishments during the time
If you choose to go back to your employer, see how you can sell the newly gained skills for a better position or a move to a department of your choice
If you are looking for a change of career, take stock of your transferable skills from your work experience so far and include the projects you did during the break
It is easier said than done. But the hustle will be well worth it. You will see the fruits of your labor, take shape!
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