5 Reasons to Take a Sabbatical (Extended Timeout or Break From Work)

If you follow me on Instagram, you would’ve been sick of all my travel updates the past few weeks (sorry, not sorry!) In my day job as an Executive Producer, I’m really fortunate to be working at a company that gives everyone a paid-for 6-week sabbatical every 7 years of working there.

My official sabbatical was 2 years ago in 2017, but as I felt so rested after that break, I didn’t take much leave that year and all my holidays rolled over into last year when I was told “you have 42 days of holidays to clear. Take them.” A second sabbatical in the space of two years? YES, PLEASE!

It couldn’t have come at a better time as I was just coming off an intense 6-month project that was burning me out. Now that I’m back to “regular programming” with a bit of time to process and think about having had this time off, I think it’s really important EVERYONE gives themselves this time and space to recharge.

Do check out the other 2 parts in this “Sabbatical Series”:

Stefan Sagmeister, renowned designer, closes his studio for one year every 7 years, and in his TED talk, “The Power of Time Off” explains how that one year off enhances his work during the 7-year working period.

5 Reasons To Take a Sabbatical

Here are 5 reasons to consider why you should take a timeout too:

1. Time to Recharge/ Escape/ Evaluate/ Timeout

It’s like meditation - you need to give your mind time and space to be, in order to come back to itself again. A break from regular programming allows you some time to get bored, and it’s usually in this time of giving yourself some space from the daily grind - you allow some personal insights to come through - perhaps it’s an evaluation of where you’re at in life right now, or where you feel you need to work towards.

An “extended timeout or break” is subjective and depends from person to person - but in my experience working in an advertising agency (with high pressure budget and timing deadlines), it usually takes at least 1 - 2 weeks’ break from thinking about work before the brain and body are able to decompress and finally relax. Only after this initial downtime can one actually start the proper “recharge”.

So think about how much time you need to wind down and actually start relaxing. It usually varies from 1 - 3 weeks. Then give yourself another 3 - 4 weeks additional time on top of that - to really switch off, so you can switch gears completely.

2. Learn New Things

With all this time on your hands, what are you going to do with it? Might be good to learn something new! It doesn’t even need to be something related to your current job - in fact it might be great if it’s something completely unrelated.

If you usually sit at a desk in an office job, perhaps learn a new skill that has some physicality to it - something that uses your hands or body:

  • Pottery/ ceramics.

  • Jewelry-making.

  • Dance: ballroom/ ballet/ hiphop/ line-dancing.

  • Massage therapy.

If you usually use your hands, body or are involved in more physical work, perhaps learn a new skill that uses other parts of your mind and senses:

  • Learn a new language.

  • Improv classes.

  • Reiki/ energy/ tarot/ aromatherapy/ shamanic therapy.

Learning new things helps refresh your perspective and gets you out of your usual routine.

Everyone’s got at least ONE thing in life they’re curious about or wished they’d tried out at some point. Now’s the time to try it out - what are you waiting for?

3. Explore the World

Travel is always a good thing. You’re out of your comfort zone, out of your routine and learning about new cultures, people, food.

It’s also important to think about whether you want to go to a busy city, be around nature, or head to a retreat somewhere in a quiet sanctuary. Maybe a mix of all the above could also be a fresh mix.

Traveling literally forces you to have a new perspective on the environment you’re in - which is the whole point of taking a sabbatical.

4. Prevent Burnout

If, like I was before my sabbatical, you’re feeling mega stressed out, or it doesn’t take much to tip you over the edge - maybe it’s time to take some time out before you go past that edge and crash and burn.

Know where your limits are and when you need to give yourself a break. It’s OK to take a break. You’ll come back a stronger, healthier person, more ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.

5. Spend Time on a Hobby/ Existing Skill/ Personal Project

You might have a burning desire to work on a personal project - write a book, build a shed, work on your family tree, etc. Taking time off to work on something that means a lot to you will fill your soul and keep you happy and vibrant.

So, rather than learning something new, you could also take the time to become better at something that you’re already interested in.

Stay tuned for the next related post on “What I did on my sabbatical - Ideas to get you started thinking about yours”.

If you enjoyed reading this, you might also be interested in these previous posts:

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