If you ask yourself this question and your answer is, “I could do with topping up with my tan, so yes, a career break sounds great!”, you probably just need a holiday. If you go to your boss with this reasoning you might get laughed out of the office. You need to have a clear idea of what you want to do with the time off, otherwise you will be full of regret when you have one or two months off full of nothing. So once you are given the OK to go, you will need to do as much research as you can into courses, volunteering programs and places to go and start planning your itinerary.
The director and founder of Headspace, Lisa Merrick-Lawless, wants you to ask yourself these questions:
- Why are you considering this?
- What are the benefits?
- What are you hoping to get from it?
She continues, “This could be any number of reasons from taking a rest to learning something new, going on an adventure, discovering more meaning in your life or simply trying out a new direction. It is important to start by understanding your purpose.”
Although taking a sabbatical isn’t a magic bullet that will increase your happiness, it can help you sort out your priorities in life.
Sara, 33, took a six month sabbatical to South East Asia after she broke up her boyfriend of eight years. She said it was the best thing she had ever done. “I had worried I’d be sitting on a beach feeling sad and lonely, but because I was immersed in a whole new life, I didn’t have time. Ironically, after a few months my ex and I started emailing, making each other laugh, realising things weren’t as stale as we’d thought, and he came to meet me at Sydney before we flew home together.”
Sara’s career and life break gave her the opportunity to reassess her relationship. If you choose to take a sabbatical for a good reason (rather than to simply get a tan), you may find that it can work wonders.