Have you come too close to being annoyed by your job on an everyday basis? Has the dullness of the daily routine stifled your creativity? Then taking some time off of work is probably the best thing to do. This article offers you 13 sabbatical leave ideas so you can make the most out of this precious time.
Because sometimes, the only thing that you can do to restore your energy after having finished an intense project (or spending too much time in a nerve-racking job) is to simply take a long and nourishing break.
And you can do this without actually quitting your job.
Table of Contents
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- What is a sabbatical leave?
- 1. Explore the world
- 2. Get active in the community and volunteer
- 3. Spend time with your loved ones
- 4. Discover your roots
- 5. Express your artistic self
- 6. Put your (sabbatical) ideas into words
- 7. Relax, meditate and decompress
- 8. Get in touch with nature
- 9. Find some time to get lost in a book
- 10. Make that crazy business idea happen
- 11. Network the hell out of your time off
- 12. Dive into academia and boost your knowledge
- 13. Follow your heart
What is a sabbatical leave?
The term sabbatical has been originally used in academia to describe a scholar's year-long break for every seven years of work.
However, the hectic pace of modern society has made it a household word that now can be used for any type of longer job break. And you don't have to wait seven years to deserve a sabbatical.
The length of a sabbatical leave is different for each individual case. Generally speaking, a sabbatical can last from a month to two years.
Its length depends on:
- Your company's policy
- Your specific agreement with HR or the manager
- Whether it's paid or not and for how long you can afford it if it's not covered
However, the most common length of sabbatical is 6 months, as it offers enough time for proper rest.
How to pick the right sabbatical idea for you
Time off work is essential but so is your attitude towards it. The sabbatical is a valuable time that deserves smart decisions and wise choices.
There are three ways in which you can approach your sabbatical leave:
- You can either enter your sabbatical with a to-do list of items to improve your life and career.
- Or you can see it as an unstructured time that embraces exploring and relaxing without a specific goal in mind.
- Alternatively, it can be something in between (or a combination of) these two approaches. It's all up to you and your current needs.
However, keep in mind, that time is precious. And while rest is what lies at the core of a sabbatical, it can have many more forms than just lying on the couch. Even though that may be all you want to do if you're on a brink of a burn-out.
To get your thinking started, we've put together a list of the 13 most rewarding sabbatical ideas for adventurous, creative, artistic, and wanderlust people who appreciate quality time.
These sabbatical ideas will provide you with opportunities for personal growth and development.
If you choose any of them, chances are that you'll also become more agile, flexible, resourceful, and creative in designing your own life and livelihood.
Finally, remember that besides taking a break, there are several other ways that can help you overcome your current job crisis — a substantial pay rise, a major career change, or new friends in the workplace.
1. Explore the world
This is probably the most fun choice for many.
Create new memories. Enjoy swimming in the sea, exploring a new city, or going for a hike. Take a trip around the world to explore new cultures and meet new people in each country you visit.
Above all, bring some momentum to your sabbatical.
You can have a fixed plan, but more adventurous travelers can even take a trip without scheduling an itinerary.
Your sabbatical simply 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 lets you invest your time in activities you truly enjoy. And this gives you an opportunity to properly reset your head.
2. Get active in the community and volunteer
If your goal during your sabbatical is to find meaning, focus on things that truly matter, or simply improve yourself or the world around you, volunteering might be the best sabbatical idea for you.
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 homeless shelter, or walking dogs.
Options are plenty and volunteers are always needed.
3. Spend time with your loved ones
After putting your career first for years, your sabbatical may be the perfect time to spend a prolonged quality time with your family.
Enjoy the simple moments, reground yourself, and focus most of your attention on your loved ones.
There'll be no regrets.
4. Discover your roots
At one point or another, everyone finds themselves in a situation where they feel a little lost and need to rediscover who they are and where they come from. Your sabbatical can also serve as a time for discovering your roots.
It might simply mean spending more time with the older members of your family, 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, yet also challenging and uncomfortable.
There may be things you discover that you'll be proud of, but also something you’d rather didn’t know about.
But having researched your family lineage and uncovered your family history, you'll eventually end up with a deeper understanding of yourself and your behaviors. Which always comes in handy in both personal and professional life.
5. Express your artistic self
Is there Rembrandt or Van Gogh dreaming inside of you? Or have you dreamed of being a musician when you were little?
Now that you have time don’t hesitate to explore your creative genius. Attend an art class where you’ll get the chance to learn how to paint, draw, create pottery, or play the violin.
Not only you'll learn a cool new skill that you can put on your updated resume. Above all, art is amazing for your mental health.
Being creative with your sabbatical leave will leave you feeling accomplished and satisfied.
6. Put your (sabbatical) ideas into words
If visual art or music isn't for you, but you can express yourself better in writing, use your time off to write that book you’ve always wanted to.
Or you can take a course at a local university to help you with writing your masterpiece.
Perhaps you’ll be too busy traveling or being with your family to enroll in an in-person creative writing course. But there’s a solution for you, too.
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.
7. Relax, meditate and decompress
Perhaps all you want to do is to recharge. Especially if your job is too demanding and you just felt too much pressure.
Resting during your sabbatical may as well be the best thing that you can do with your time.
You can take yoga or pilates classes. Or schedule some time to attend a retreat in the mountains or at the seaside.
Meditating is one of the best ways to reclaim your inner peace.
8. Get in touch with nature
Nature is indeed an excellent source of inspiration and energy. If you’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by city life, maybe it’s time to spend your sabbatical in the countryside.
There’s a variety of mind-cleansing things you can do.
Rent a cabin in the woods and spend your days hiking. Or choose to work on a local farm — spending time with animals and physical work can help you to relax your mind and lead you to genuine humility.
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.
9. Find some time to get lost in a book
Is everything you read only business emails, TikTok captions, or movie subtitles?
Your “to read” list surely contains dozens of fantastic books.
Now listen closely because the 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.
In a couple of weeks, you'll see the results of this activity. Not only you'll learn a lot, but you'll also feel much more relaxed.
10. Make that crazy business idea happen
If you’ve spent decades waiting for an impulse that would inspire you to start to innovate and create, maybe the sabbatical leave is precisely it.
There's no better time to risk and spend your time on a new challenge. It also has 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 recognize those with the best potential, nothing will hold you from turning them into reality.
Inventors also tend to flock together, so don’t hesitate to invest in networking.
Get in touch with other innovators through the United Inventors Association of USA or Manhattan Inventors. Maybe you’ll find out that some like-minded genius is living just around the corner!
11. Network the hell out of your time off
Regardless of what your future professional goals are, to achieve them, you need both — strong friendships and also casual acquaintances.
So you can approach your sabbatical as an opportunity to meet new people and create a web of connections that you'll be able to fall back on after you re-enter the professional world.
Trusted friends and experienced professionals can provide you with the 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 successes or mistakes.
12. 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 a lasting investment in your professional knowledge and skills. It's never been so easy to have such convenient access to education before.
13. Follow your heart
The most unfortunate thing you can do is spend your life not doing what you want to.
Being busy with 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? 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 an any better time than now.
FAQ: Sabbatical ideas
- How long is a sabbatical usually?
Well, that's up to you. You have to find out two things first:
1. How long of sabbatical leave will you be allowed to take
2. How long of sabbatical leave can you afford
Based on the answers, you can decide how long should your sabbatical be.
- Do you get your salary during the sabbatical?
This very much depends on your employer. Most sabbaticals are unpaid, or only partly paid. However, for instance, in academia, a sabbatical is usually covered.
- How can you take a sabbatical?
-First, find out what are the rules regarding the sabbatical at your place of work.
-If taking a sabbatical is allowed figure out if you can afford it (and for how long).
-Finally, schedule a meeting with your boss and HR to officially request it.
This article was recently updated. The original article was written by Jakub Kaprál in 2018.