Everyone needs a break now and then. Weekends are nice for recharging your batteries before Monday rolls back around. Lunch breaks help you regain energy midway through the day, keeping you well physically and mentally.
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What do you do if you need a more extended break than that? After years of working 40 hours a week, a long respite can help you realign yourself and get back on track. That’s why more and more people are choosing to take sabbaticals.
A sabbatical is a long break from work. It’s more of a month-long vacation than a long weekend away. Taking 30 or more days off of work might sound dangerous to your career, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to schedule your sabbatical without killing your career:
Discuss Things With Your Boss
An understanding supervisor will be more willing to allow you to take a sabbatical. Talking with them about why you need this break will help them empathize with your struggle. However, simply asking for the time off might rub them the wrong way, putting your position at risk.
While no boss is perfect, those who try to understand your needs and concerns will be glad you approached them and make an extra effort to make things work. In addition, your chances for success are a lot higher if you level with them about your decision.
Take a Break During the Slow Season
Most businesses have times of the year that are busier than others. During these months, it’s all hands on deck, and everyone is needed. For the busy season — you must be there. The hectic days are probably not the best to take a sabbatical if you want to keep your career intact.
Try to schedule your sabbatical immediately following the busiest time of the year for your company. Not only will the rest feel well-deserved, but the company will feel less pressure by letting you go for a spell.
Keep in Touch
Losing all contact with your company may cause managers and business owners to consider moving on, even if they previously stated they wouldn’t. The fear of the unknown is powerful, and if they’re afraid you’ll never return, you might get replaced.
Check-in regularly with your team. Give them updates on your trips, or maybe stop by the office to say hello every once in a while. Make known your intention to return, and it’s much more likely to be respected.
Continue Your Craft
Taking so much time off work can cause you to lose your edge. On the other hand, you don’t want to return rusty, so look for ways to continue your craft even while on sabbatical. It’ll help you transition back so much more quickly.
Practicing your skills will also help you keep your career in motion once you return. You’re already making up for lost time as it is. There’s no reason to set yourself back even further by getting too rusty.
While on sabbatical, you might rub shoulders with business leaders who can give you advice on your career. In rare cases, they might even have opportunities for you. So don’t shy away from these interactions; they could be a chance to further your career.
Taking a sabbatical is all about rest and recovery, not switching jobs or jumping ship from your company. However, staying open through networking can open up new doors for you. You’ll especially want that opportunity if your current employer were to cut ties with you unexpectedly.
Schedule Later Into Your Career
Taking a sabbatical too soon into your professional career can throw up some red flags for current and future employers. Are you able to hang in there for the long haul? Can you make long-term commitments? For the first few years with a company, try to keep time off to no more than a week or two.
An early sabbatical might be good if you’re seriously pondering a career change. Otherwise, the break-in of your resume can give a wrong impression. Building up a career takes a lot of hard work. So schedule your sabbatical late enough so it doesn’t get in the way.
Learn a New Skill
Not only will a new skill be valuable when you return to work, but it will also show that you used your time off for more than just lounging and vacationing. When asked about the extensive time off you took, showing off this new skill will put employer’s and recruiters’ minds at ease.
You don’t have to dedicate your entire sabbatical to learning a new skill. Instead, schedule a few minutes every day in your online calendar to practice a new language or fine-tune a new instrument. It’s great if it applies to your current career path, but it isn’t necessary.
An alternative to completely dropping off from work is to transition to a work-from-home situation. If you’re not among the ranks who have made this transition in recent months, this is a great way to test it out.
When scheduling your sabbatical and asking for time off, talk with your supervisor about taking a limited capacity remotely. This way, you’ll be able to take trips and relax at home while still contributing to your company and career.
The first step is deciding if a sabbatical is suitable for you, then pulling the trigger. Next, find out how you can set yourself up for career success when you return. Finally, use your time off wisely, but be sure to enjoy yourself. You deserve the break.
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