Keeping Your Sabbatical Productive

edited November 2010 in Articles
Keeping Your Sabbatical Productive

What a great idea! You feel burned out and think that a sabbatical from your current job would do wonders to re-charge the old batteries. Sitting at the same desk, doing the same old, boring work day in and day out has worn you down. You need a change of scenery…you need to get away. You’re not alone. Taking sabbaticals from the workplace is not uncommon. Nearly 1 in every 6 companies offers some sort of formal sabbatical. You may not get paid, but that’s part of the deal if you’re really burned out. So now you want to approach your boss to get her buy in before going to the powers that be. How can you be sure you’re actually going to benefit from being away from work?

Well, realize first that you’re not really going to be away from work. You’re not going on a vacation if you truly want to get something out of this. The choice you need to make is how you can best recharge your batteries for your current line of work? The plan should be for you to come back to your current job. That’s the assumption to make when you start down this path. So you need to identify something to do during your sabbatical that will energize you in your current work. Does going back to school make sense; adding to your knowledge base so you can bring more value to your employer? They’d like that but would that meet your needs?

Does volunteering in some completely different field take your mind off your job and allow you to grow in a new way? If you’re in a desk job all day, does it make sense to work at a soup kitchen or mentor in a school? If this path is attractive there are all sorts of volunteering options available. is a great source to find those opportunities. Is there another area within your company’s industry you’d like to understand better? For example, it you are in financial services, what about spending time as an intern at one of your company’s largest customers?

That approach would be seen very positively by your employer and your customer. Who knows, maybe you’d be the start of a new initiative that strengthens ties between your employer and its key customers. You need to be creative and figure out how to make sense of your sabbatical. Make it a positive event in your life that you can look back on and see it as a great investment of your time. At the same time you want your employer to say the same thing. Thinking through what you’d like to do before approaching your boss will say a lot about you as an employee and person.
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