sabbatical ideas

Taking Time Off Work? 12 Sabbatical Ideas to Help You Make Most of It

Last edit August 7, 2018

Have you come too close to burning out? Has the dullness of the daily routine stifled your creativity? Are you feeling paralysed and lack any sense of direction?

Your energy need restoring and the nerve-racking job simply calls for along and nourishing break. Yes, you're right, we're talking about the fabled sabbatical.

The Jewish sounding term has been originally used in academia to describe a scholar's year-long break for every seven years worked. 

However, the hectic pace of the modern society has made it a household word that now denotes any type of a job hiatus.

"A sabbatical allows a person to refresh, renew and return to life with a new perspective." — Christopher Key Chapple.

Your time off work is important but so is your attitude towards it. The sabbatical is a valuable time that deserves smart decisions and wise choices.

You can either enter your sabbatical with a to-do list of items to improve your life and career or see it as an unstructured time that embraces wandering and exploring without specific goals in mind. Or something in between. That's all up to you.

To get your thinking started, we've put together a list of 12 most rewarding sabbatical ideas for adventurous, creative, artistic, wanderlust people who appreciate quality time:

sabbatical ideas

1. Explore the world and go on a soul-searching trip

Bring some momentum to your sabbatical. Take a trip around the world to explore new cultures and meet new people in each country you visit.

You can have a fixed plan, but more adventurous travelers can even take a trip without scheduling an itinerary.

Your sabbatical also gives you the freedom to plan your trip according to your personal tastes.

Which means of transport do you enjoy the most? What best suits your budget? Will your wanderlust have you jumping from one destination to another? Or will you want to exchange quantity for quality and stay in one place for a longer time to get to know it deeper?

Traveling is also your opportunity to invest your time in activities you truly enjoy.

While some of us drool over the chance to learn surfing in Hawaii, others dream about checking out the local music scene in the New York City, exploring hiking trails leading to beautiful vistas and waterfalls in Yosemite or setting off in quest of the best ramen in Tokyo.

2. Get active in the community through volunteering

If your goal is to develop your intellect and challenge yourself to accomplish goals that truly matter and affect your community, volunteering might be your best pick.

There are a variety of ways to get involved in your local community. Take a look around and in no time can you be raising money, hosting a meet and greet for a political candidate, helping out at the phone bank or delivering yard signs.

3. Get back to your roots and spend time with your loved ones

At a certain point in life, everyone finds himself in a situation when they need to discover who they are and where they came from. Your sabbatical can also serve a time for rediscovering your roots and getting back to your family.

It might simply mean spending more time with your loved ones, or even planning a trip to your family’s country of origin and getting to know some of your relatives who may still be living there.

This journey back in time can be fun and enjoyable as well as daunting and uncomfortable. There may be things that you will be proud of but also things you’d rather be if you didn’t know about.

But having researched your family lineage and uncovered your family history, you will eventually end up with a deeper understanding of yourself and your behaviour.


4. Express your artistic self

Is there a Rembrandt or Van Gogh dreaming inside you? Don’t hesitate to explore your creative genius and attend an art class where you’ll get the chance to learn how to paint, draw or create pottery.

Even a few weeks can help you leave your sabbatical with an ability to paint a fancy landscape scenery or even perhaps become an emerging graffiti artist.

5. Carve your ideas into words

If you can express yourself better in writing, take the chance during your time off to write that book you’ve always wanted to get published. Or you can take a course at a local university to help you write your masterpiece.

Perhaps you’ll be too busy traveling to enrol in a creative writing course in person. But there’s a solution for you, too.

If you want to stay independent, the world's top universities — such as Stanford, MIT, Purdue University or others — offer free online classes that you can attend from almost anywhere, whether it’s your mountain shack or yacht cabin.

6. Relax, meditate and decompress

Especially when your last job was too demanding and you just felt too much pressure, sabbatical may as well be your time to relax and decompress.

You can take a yoga or pilates class or schedule some time to attend a retreat in the mountains or at the seaside. Communing with nature is one of the best ways to reclaim your inner peace and absorb the harmony of the natural world.

sabbatical ideas

7. Get in touch with nature

Nature is a great source of inspiration and hidden energy. If you’ve been feeling too depressed in the city and heard the call of the wild, maybe it’s time to unleash your natural self and spend your sabbatical in the countryside.

There’s a variety of mind-cleansing things you can do. Working on a local farm can help you observe natural cycles — for example during planting and harvesting stage — and lead you to genuine humility through exercising your body and mind through hard work.

Or you can try to replicate Thoreau's Walden experience and adopt a civil-disobedience mindset instead.

If you’ve no idea where to start looking for opportunities, just ask around or look them up online through global volunteering websites such as WWOOF or Workaway.

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8. Find some time to get lost in a book

Is everything you read only business emails, movie subtitles and short snippets of news?

Your ‘to read’ list surely contains dozens of fantastic books. Now listen closely because sabbatical may be calling you to sit down and spend your days in a hammock, reading and enjoying masterpieces of literature you’ve always wanted to read.

If you need help with choosing the books to read, though, be sure to keep up with the trends as well as pick a few books from the classic literature book lists on Goodreads. Although most of us were required to read them at school, we hardly did anything more than just skimmed the surface. And that's a great pity. 

9. Make that crazy business idea happen

If you’ve spent decades waiting for an impetus to start innovating and creating, there’s simply no better time than your sabbatical. It's the time of a limited risk with a huge potential reward!

The sabbatical sets you completely free to daydream and explore millions of creative ideas for inventions floating through your head. And once you recognise those with the best potential, nothing will hold you from turning them into reality.

sabbatical ideas

Inventors also tend to flock together, so don’t hesitate to invest in networking. Get in touch with other innovators through United Inventors Association of USA or Manhattan Inventors. Maybe you’ll find out that some like-minded genius is living just around the corner! 

10. Network the hell out of your time off

Regardless of what your goals are, you need strong friendships and casual acquaintances to achieve them. Take your sabbatical as an opportunity to meet new people and create a web of connections that you will be able to fall back on.

Trusted friends and experienced professionals can provide you with advice, support and encouragement that you need. And besides that, it’s always refreshing to draw some inspiration from other people and learn from their mistakes.

11. Dive into academia and boost your knowledge

Are you an aspiring Nobel prize winner that has only recently found his professional niche? If you feel like you're falling behind with your education, the sabbatical may be your path to another diploma that will boost your career prospects in the future.

Many top universities such as Oxford, Stanford or MIT offer short-term and long-term professional diplomas in various courses. So don't hesitate and make the lasting investment into your professional knowledge and skills. It's never been so easy to have such convenient access to education before. 

12. Follow your heart

The most unfortunate thing you can do is spend your life not doing what you want to. Being busy in our hectic routine, we often ignore our dreams and wishes.

Do you remember things you wanted to do when you grow up? Play guitar solos like Jimi Hendrix or sing your heart out like Frank Sinatra? Perform in a theatre or make it in Hollywood? Whatever it is that makes you tick, you should definitely give it a go. Because there won’t be any better time than now.

sabbatical ideas

Reach out for new and richer experience

You don't have to wait seven years to deserve a sabbatical. If any of these ideas resonated with you, there's no reason to wait any longer.

These fun, interesting and creative ideas for spending a sabbatical in a worry-free manner will provide you with opportunities for personal growth and development. Chances are you will also become more agile, flexible, resourceful, and creative in designing your own life and livelihood.

Besides taking a break, however, there are several other ways that can help you overcome your current job crisis — a substantial pay rise, major career change or new friends in the workplace.

But if you've already made up your mind, remember to quit your job with a style and leave a good impression. Because, as we all know, life's is like a box of chocolates and you've no clue what it has in store for you next.

  • Jakub Kapral, Career and Resume Writer at Kickresume
  • Jakub Kaprál
    Career & Resume Writer
    Jakub Kapral is a former professional linguist and a career writer at Kickresume. He has written almost 100 diligently researched resume advice articles and his texts are visited by thousands of people every month. Jakub is a natural teacher who looks to help those who want to enhance their career prospects. He's also an avid drummer and a proud father of two.

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