Sabbatical Planning: 7-Step Guide to How to Plan Your Sabbatical

This is part 3 of a 3-part series I’ve written on why you need to take a sabbatical.

See previous posts:

Not sure where to begin planning yours? Let’s break it down.

7 Steps How to plan Sabbatical Guide

1. Decide What You Want to Do

The first thing to decide is what kind of sabbatical you want:

  • A pure holiday or vacation?

  • Time to work on a personal project?

  • Time to learn a new skill or go deeper in an existing skill?

A lot of it depends on why you want to take a time out. Unsure of the reasons? Read this.

2. Decide How Much Time You Need For This

Depending on what you want to do on your sabbatical, you can then decide on how much time you want to take off.

It usually takes at least 1 - 2 weeks out of “work mode” before your mind and body are both relaxed enough to switch off, so give yourself this time to transition. After this, take at least another 3 - 4 weeks at the minimum to really give yourself that much needed time-out.

Ideally, the minimum extended time off work should start from 4 - 6 weeks. You could go up to 6 months or a year if you’re able to afford both time and money for this.

3. Work Out a Budget

Once you know what you want to do and how long you want off, you can then start to plan how much money you’ll need for it.

Things to consider:

  • Monthly rent/ mortgage: if you’re traveling, how much do you need to cover the rent/ mortgage? Or how else can you cover the rent/mortgage while you’re gone? (eg. Airbnb, short-term rentals to friends, etc).

  • Monthly food & living costs: how much will you need per month for food and other living expenses, depending where in the world you’ll be?

  • Other monthly costs: what other monthly financial responsibilities do you have to cover?

  • Costs for sabbatical activities: if you’re traveling or planning to take a course/ learn a new skill, how much will those expenses work out to?

4. Save Up For It

Once you’ve determined how much money you’ll need, it’s time to work out how to get that money. Some considerations:

  • Cut down on spending so you can save more.

  • Take on additional jobs (eg. freelancing?) to save more.

  • If you run your own business, what kinds of additional promotions or offers could you run in order to increase your revenue?

5. Talk to Your Family/ Friends

Once you start thinking of potentially going on sabbatical, talk to your loved ones about your plans. Often, it may mean having to rely on family or friends to take care of some of your responsibilities while you’re gone (eg. taking care of the kids, pets or plants), or you might even want to bring them with you on your travels. It helps to make it a discussion about how to make this possible.  

6. Talk to Your Boss/ Employer About the Time-Off You need.

Many people are afraid to broach the topic of taking extended time off with their bosses. But think about approaching it as a conversation. Sometimes it helps to also bring a list of all the achievements in the past year or two you’ve made within or for the company, eg:

  • “In x amount of time, I’ve brought in this amount of sales.”

  • “I’ve helped the company do _______/ improve its ________, through what I’ve done ________ (list out what you’ve done).

And because you’ve been busting your balls so hard to make all those amazing things happen for the company, you would now like to take some time-out to recharge and reflect a bit.

Also - what’s the worst that could happen? Think of the absolute worst-case scenario if they say “no” - what would you do? If you need or want a break badly enough, could you also suggest taking no-pay leave?

Alternatively - what if you quit your job entirely (after saving up the money required for the long break, of course).

If you walk into the conversation with your boss knowing what your worst-case scenario situation is, it helps you to navigate the outcome of that conversation.

7. Work Out How You’ll Sort Out Any Other Personal Responsibilities

Other than the plants, pets, children, rent/ mortgage - what other personal responsibilities do you have that will need to be taken care of?

  • Can you do some of it remotely?

  • Can you get a good friend or sibling to help you while you’re gone?

Just because you’re planning to be away, it doesn’t mean your life and responsibilities at home go away. Think about how you’ll manage these and who you might need to rely on while you’re gone, then have that conversation with them too.

Have you taken a sabbatical or are planning to take one? How have you navigated it? Do share in the comments below!

You might also be interested in these previous posts in my 3-part sabbatical series:

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