In academia, professors may have the opportunity to take a sabbatical.  In higher education, a sabbatical is typically for a year, but it can be any extended period of time away from one’s regular work for the purposes of rest, research, training, learning new skills, etc.  A quick internet search also taught me that sabbatical relates to resting on the 7th day, a day of Sabbath, as well as a year off every 7 years when even the land gets to rest.

For those of us outside of the university setting, sabbaticals aren’t routinely offered by employers, though some companies now offer them at varying lengths of time after varying lengths of service:

People use sabbaticals to spend time with family, to volunteer, travel, or work in a different capacity above and beyond taking a vacation.  What’s in it for the company?  As noted in the article linked above, “the intention is to help the employee reset and come back rejuvenated and refreshed – as an enhanced worker (not to mention human being).”  An acquaintance of mine took a sabbatical from her company to volunteer overseas.  A friend, after much planning, utilized his sabbatical to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

Even if your company doesn’t offer sabbaticals, are there rotational opportunities to other divisions, partner organizations, etc. that would effectively serve as a sabbatical experience?  Another colleague recently took advantage of a 2-month opportunity to rotate to two different jobs with two different partner organizations.  After 10 years at my current organization, I am preparing to work for another one on a full-time, 6-month rotation and have committed to returning to my home organization with new skills and a fresh mind.  It took over a year of planning and coordination for this opportunity to come to fruition.

What would you do with a sabbatical 1 month or 6 months or a year?  Could you find a creative way to pursue the possibility?  If your work doesn’t have a formal program, could you ask the question and see where it leads?  If you are self-employed, it can be difficult or risky to take a sabbatical from customers, but with some planning it is possible.  Could you start a sabbatical savings account to fund the possibility in 7 years?

Over the arc of a professional career, taking a sabbatical at least once along the way or even as frequently as every 7 years sounds good for the soul, doesn’t it?  Imagine your sabbatical and put a plan in place to make it happen.