A career break might sound for many like a bold move that will just never happen. Yes, it is not for everyone and for any stage in a career, but we should all start considering it.
As organizations today start paying more attention to their employees’ wellness, they are more open to different career models. As career coach Julie Bauke highlights “many people realized along the way that doing it (career) the old way sucked their souls dry and they lost a lot along the way – family, good health, adventure, etc.” This has propelled a move towards innovative professional paths.
The most important considerations when planning a career break have to do with personal finances, relationships and family. Bauke recommends asking yourself the following questions: Why is now the time for me personally to take a break? What do I want to get out of it and how will I ensure that I actually it? Do I have some idea of how and where I will reenter the next phase of my life? Am I truly ready for the possibility that I may come back a very different person than when I left in terms of my goals & interests?
There are different types of career breaks or sabbaticals, and the one you chose will depend on your occupation, sense of adventure and desire to give or learn. According to yoursabattical.com, these types include:
- Travel Sabbatical: In a travel sabbatical the objective is to see the world, or just part of it. “Experiencing another culture never fails to provide a new perspective on what we have at home.”
- Green Sabbatical: This type of career break may be incentivized by companies interested in social responsibility. They can give employees time out to help with a clean-up project, further a renewable energy effort, or do field research. With this opportunity “the individual learns how to help the earth and his or her company reaps the benefits of supporting “green” causes.”
- Volunteer Sabbatical: This career break is an opportunity for employees to donate time to a charity of their choice or the charity supported by their employer. The experience is highly rewarding at a personal and professional level, motivating employees as they get back to work to seek another chance to engage in volunteering activities again.
- Innovation Sabbatical: This sabbatical program “stimulates fresh thinking” by providing employees with the opportunity to live different work cultures in different industries, locations, structures. Insights obtained from this will give them the tools to think outside the box, fueling their creativity and providing inspiration for others to follow.
- Family Sabbatical: Many companies give employees the chance to spend time with their family. “Providing a solid block of quality time with family members helps these people balance their priorities and gain perspective and renewed energy for their workplace objectives.”
- Learning Sabbatical: “Educational sabbaticals enable employees to finish an MBA, become fluent in a second language, earn certification in a software program and more.” Employers benefit greatly of this type of sabbatical as employees bring the knowledge gained to the workplace.
- Research Sabbatical: This type of break gives employees the time to develop a new product, business process, project, or book.
- Lifelong Goal Sabbatical: “This program allows employees to re-energize themselves by chasing a lifelong dream such as acting in a theater production, competing in a triathlon, or hiking Mt. Everest.” Conquering a goal can be a powerful momentum for any individual, motivating them also as professionals.
- Personal Growth Sabbatical: This sabbatical is a time for self-reflection which can occur as “a silent meditation retreat, reading a stack of self-help books, or even filling up a journal with reflections, hopes, and plans.” After the experience, individuals return to work enlightened with personal clarity, which helps achieve higher levels of concentration, productivity, and lower stress.
- Hybrid Sabbatical: This program allows employees to plan a sabbatical that includes two or more of the above mentioned.
When considering and planning a sabbatical you must be purposeful. A career break isn’t an opportunity to be lazy at home and do nothing. It is a break from the conventional professional path to move on to a personal level where you can gain skills, knowledge, insights of the world and people, cultural notions; any set of transferable skills that can be applied to your professional development.
If a career break has no objective or reason of being, it will damage your resume. It must be clear how the break benefits your professional path and the company you work for or aim to work for in the future.