Sabbatical Leave

2rocky

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Jul 23, 2010
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In 3 years my last child leaves the nest and I will be 50 years old. I will have been with my same employer for 26 years by that time.
It occurred to me that there are things in life that won’t wait for retirement for me to experience and I would like to address all the alternate paths in different places to give me perspective on where my life is headed.
Question for the HT folk. Have any of you done an extended leave of absence from a professional career? How long and how did it help you/ enlighten you?
 

Nutrioso

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I can’t answer your specific questions but can relate my experience not taking one. In a former career, one of the advertised benefits was a sabbatical after 7 years. I reached the milestone and made plans for a 2 month long trip to Montana with my wife and dog to hunt birds and fish. Had many arrangements set but when I tried to clear the dates with my managers, I got all kinds of grief on how bad this leave would be for my career, how this was a bad time to go, etc. In essence, the sabbatical policy was just BS.

I cancelled everything and didn’t go. Thirty years later, that firm is gone, my career has changed, and I truly regret missing out on that time away. My advice from this experience is, if you can go, go. I’ve yet to hear of someone on their death bed regretting working less and adventuring more.
 

cedahm

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I can’t answer your specific questions but can relate my experience not taking one. In a former career, one of the advertised benefits was a sabbatical after 7 years. I reached the milestone and made plans for a 2 month long trip to Montana with my wife and dog to hunt birds and fish. Had many arrangements set but when I tried to clear the dates with my managers, I got all kinds of grief on how bad this leave would be for my career, how this was a bad time to go, etc. In essence, the sabbatical policy was just BS.

I cancelled everything and didn’t go. Thirty years later, that firm is gone, my career has changed, and I truly regret missing out on that time away. My advice from this experience is, if you can go, go. I’ve yet to hear of someone on their death bed regretting working less and adventuring more.
Several firms I’ve worked for have had similar, and the above is a great f’ing example of why you should take advantage. Jobs are (can be) pretty fungible.

i never did it. Two close friends and colleagues did When I was in my late 20s. One spent a year living in his truck/tent around northern Idaho, the Crowsnest and Glacier. The other brought a backpack and some cash to SE Asia and rambled around for 6 months, and eventually met a nice gal and got married in Thailand and last time we met for a beer and some noodles over that way, had several children. Both had, by most measures, fantastic careers before and after.

Sabbaticals are an excellent benefit that Very few employers offer or support any more.
 

ElkFever2

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Mar 4, 2019
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I’ll bite. Not a sabbatical, but after undergrad I worked for 2 years with the goal of saving enough for a trip of a lifetime. At 23 I visited Spain, spent 7 weeks southern Africa, and then the main event of hiking the Appalachian Trail in a single go. I left in April, and returned to ‘normal’ life to start grad school in Jan. The trip was everything I hoped it would be and more. I lived out of my backpack and I met people from dozens of other countries. More than anything it opened my eyes to how varied people and cultures are in our world. During my trip preparations I encountered a LOT of jealous people. It wasn’t until after the trip that realized why they were jealous - few people have the opportunity to partake in such an experience. When you are young $ is the limiting factor unless you have someone like parents sponsor you (I didn’t), when you have kids it severely limits how long you can be away, and when you’re old(er), hopefully you haven’t put off for too long the things you really wanted to experience.
 

nick87

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I’ll bite. Not a sabbatical, but after undergrad I worked for 2 years with the goal of saving enough for a trip of a lifetime. At 23 I visited Spain, spent 7 weeks southern Africa, and then the main event of hiking the Appalachian Trail in a single go. I left in April, and returned to ‘normal’ life to start grad school in Jan. The trip was everything I hoped it would be and more. I lived out of my backpack and I met people from dozens of other countries. More than anything it opened my eyes to how varied people and cultures are in our world. During my trip preparations I encountered a LOT of jealous people. It wasn’t until after the trip that realized why they were jealous - few people have the opportunity to partake in such an experience. When you are young $ is the limiting factor unless you have someone like parents sponsor you (I didn’t), when you have kids it severely limits how long you can be away, and when you’re old(er), hopefully you haven’t put off for too long the things you really wanted to experience.
I'll admit it made me jealous. Always wanted to take a year and wander the lower 48 with no plan or intended route.
 
G

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I am currently thinking of taking an extended leave of absence myself... permanently. I am a teacher and quite frankly, I've always felt I've been "career mismatched". I've never been a risk taker and I'm afraid I'm going to have regrets if I don't make a move soon. Life is short and there are too many things I haven't experienced yet.

I just got done reading an article about the so called dream job and according to the author, there is no such thing. Work is work and the author did not want to be defined by their career, but by their hobbies, personality, and their likes/dislikes. The article really resonated with me. It doesn't sound like you are wanting to leave your job, but time away from work IMO can never hurt. Good luck.
 
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MarvB

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₵tral Oar-e-gun
I’m in the same boat as @nick87… always wanted to but never pulled the trigger, life seemed to constantly get in the way. But now after the ex is gone, three kids i raised now on there own (kinda), retired and remarried to an amazing woman, if it comes to my mind too often I make plans and get it done! Only difference is that I’m no longer 30, I’m 62 and that becomes part of the process.
 

BearFoot

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What excites you! Follow your excitement by taking small steps, small actions. A call , request for info, step toward the excitement. Things/people will show up in support. Scary and exciting are the same feeling. It's new and unknown. Thats where adventure is!
Myself, I've had many employers. Over 30. When unhappy I quit. Opportunity followed and provided a greater experience and pay.
Follow you excitement, and you won't be wrong.
 

Bob-WY

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Never done it, but a friend has. In his words, best thing ever. He's now at the same place, been promoted and working towards retirement

Got me thinking
 

westbranch

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Sep 11, 2017
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ID Panhandle
Several years ago when my wife and I were 29 we took 2.5 months to drive around the west and find a place to live in north Idaho. My wife had an unpaid leave/sabbatical from her employer. I had quit my job and started looking after about 3 months and no issues finding a new job. I was at 4 months of not working. The travelling was a great relaxer and we were able to check out a ton of hiking/camping areas and national parks that would have taken years to get done otherwise. Biggest issue after our main "break" was thinking about when it would be possible to do that again. Shooting for mid 50s ability to retire, even if we don't actually retire. Having living expenses (and savings) at a level where you could quit your job and not work for a few months is a great feeling.

My current employer has a 3 month paid sabbatical after 15 yrs of employment. Quite a ways away, but if I am still here I will take it.
 

noharleyyet

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Sabbaticals are how I see our vacations. Never more than 2 weekends and the 5 weekdays in between, but always glad to go, always glad to get home and back to work. Love what I do and where we live...and love to rent paradise in small bites.

Hunt trips are shorter sabbaticals....same principle.
 

rustednuts

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Apr 7, 2018
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628
I am currently thinking of taking an extended leave of absence myself... permanently. I am a teacher and quite frankly, I've always felt I've been "career mismatched". I've never been a risk taker and I'm afraid I'm going to have regrets if I don't make a move soon. Life is short and there are too many things I haven't experienced yet.

I just got done reading an article about the so called dream job and according to the author, there is no such thing. Work is work and the author did not want to be defined by their career, but by their hobbies, personality, and their likes/dislikes. The article really resonated with me. It doesn't sound like you are wanting to leave your job, but time away from work IMO can never hurt. Good luck.
You may be interested in the book Do Over by Jon Acuff
 

peter86

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Aug 29, 2021
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I am doing just that right now! Landlord sold my place in June, told me settlement was Sept 1. so by the time we finished our conversation I decided I was gonna hunt the Elk rut out West. Have a bunch of cash saved. Stopped in my home states of PA'S epicenter of Elk in Benezette. Visited family in MN and ND. Fished accross Montana, Wyoming, and CO. Now I'm doing some scouting in CO for Thurs. figure I'll spend the whole archery season out here.
 

Backofbeyond

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Jan 2, 2018
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Boise, ID
Wife and I are actively working towards something similar.

Our plan is to pay off the house as soon as we can, then save up the mortgage for a year, then take a break. Current thinking is to jump in the truck and travel with the kids. On our current pay-off plan the oldest will be 11 and the player to be named later (in 10 weeks) will be 8. Which we think is basically the best age to do something like that - old enough to remember it, young enough to still enjoy spending time with their parents.

My sister and BIL did an extended sabbatical with my nephews, but they went to my BIL’s village in Haiti and spend 8 months with his family. That was the best way for the boys to learn Kreyol and actually get to know their family. They’ve never regretted it.
 

mdhunter

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Aug 13, 2009
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Maryland
After college (and the following summer working) I went to Australia in September and spent the next six months traveling everywhere. I loved every minute and swore to be a lifetime traveler… and then life happened. Kids, mortgages, car payments, etc.

I enjoy my career but miss the thought of traveling without guilt. I guess the answer is “you do you”. Hopefully life is long and you don’t want to miss opportunities or have regrets.
 

Bullshot

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Dec 21, 2018
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Two days into the rising sun
Lately, I am consumed with similar thoughts. My kids are growing, one just entered high school. The best time of life with them is drawing short and it hurts. I am unplugging from work a bit more than I should and starting to take a me/us first attitude. It’s not a comfortable feeling, I’ve always had a great work ethic, but I think I am onto something. I want to mentally retire in 10 years (meaning I will probably still work but don’t want to HAVE to work, at least not at the same stress/intensity level) and in the next few years want to spend a lot more time
with the family than I have the last few. Take the time off if you can. Don’t put yourself on the street, but even if it means tightening the belt or lowering your financial goals a bit, do it. I’m having regrets over my life / time management / balance and I am going to put my foot down from here out, damn the consequences.
 
Yeti

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