Plan your sabbatical successfuly is the advice we would like to give everyone when preparing for it, and we understand that the process can be overwhelming and stressful since a lot of people often don’t know where to start the planning first. So, how can you plan your sabbatical successfully?
THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION
Like in every big decision in life a good preparation is the key to success and reaching a goal. Thus it is not coming as a surpise, that also when trying to take a sabbatical, the better the preparation has been, the more likely the personal time out will feel like a succes story.
– START AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE –
An early start can give you more time to figuring out why you acually need a sabbatical. You will have more time to think about personal reasons in depth and will give yourself the freedom to decide with clarity where the journey shall take you. Why do you want to get away from it all? Where do you want to go? What do you want to see or do in this time? Especially when you already feel that you have decided there is no way leading past a sabbatical, you should consider the next steps carefully. Give yourself enough time to negotiate and talk with your boss/employer. In large corporations, decisions will probably have to be passed on to a number of departments, and that may take time again. But also in smaller companies you might find yourself in the better position with time on your side: especially when your boss has to figure out how to replace you since you have been really important for the company and there is no ongoing procedure in place for sabbaticals. Understand, that also for your company (if you decide to stay) a sabbatical will be a lot of work in the preparation period. Thus, in general, having more time will put you in a better position for negotiating terms with your employer. If you give each person who is part in the process enough time for preparing the necessary steps, you will see that it will play out better in the end.
WRITE A CHECKLIST
Checklists are a great way to have all the important notes written down in one place. We also suggest you to write your own personal checklist for a sabbatical.
- Compact and clean summary on one page
- you won’t forget anything important
- your thoughts will be organized
- visual “checks” will give you new motivation to continue with the preparation
printablechecklist.org. is offering a really great service for everyone looking to write down a fast and easy checklist online. You can fill, delete and add as many points as necessary, and if you like print it afterwards.
START THINKING ABOUT FINANCES EARLY
The costs you will face when taking a sabbatical should be written down in detail as much as possible. Get to know your financial situation and decide about a number, you do NOT want to exceed when taking a sabbatical. No one wants to ruin themself (and the temptation might be higher when you sit at a tropic island in your sabbatical, wanting to spend this extra money not caring about what will happen when you come back home to reality). Understand, that this timeout shall give yourself some time to rest and peace, not new problems. Thus it is very important that you write down every bill and obligation you have to pay – even when you are on a sabbatical. So you will understand which amount of money you will lose, because in this time you will likely to have no income balancing it out. Such a financial analysis can be comparable to the one a company has to do on a daily basis. What are your assets? Do you have any extra cash available you can spend during your sabbatical? What are your costs? Insurance? Rent? Kids? If the money you have is not enough to cover your expenses: do you have a way to generate some extra cash? For example by using a credit? Looking publicitly for financial help (donations)? Talking to your boss about different salary payments?
INCLUDE YOUR EMPLOYER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
One suggestion that might not fit to everyone. A lot of people fear that if talking to their company at a very early stage of the preparation, this might backfire. The boss could from now on see the employee as a lazy worker, not wanting to continue his or her career, but only wishing to take a sabbatical. Not being able to work under stress. We do believe though that talking openly to your boss might also open you doors you haven’t even thought about. Most people get to work everyday and do not realize that they are doing an amazing job. The companies need them. And for a company it is often way harder to find a new employee that they can count of, than the emplyoyee thinks. Times have changed, and from what we have seen in the past years, if an employee works well and gets along with its colleagues, the company is very likely to do everything they can to support the employees needs – and thus to not lose them to another company. This is the chance for everyone working for some time at the same place and wanting to take a sabbatical: you will be able to express your needs and strenghten the relationship for the longrun. Together, both your company and you can work on
- negotiating a work concept giving you time and/or money needed for a sabbatical
- informing your company about sabbaticals and the personal needs of his employees
- figuring out if an internal department change in the same country or overseas might be what the employee wants for a sabbatical
- finding a non-profit organization the employee could work for during the sabbatical (and the company would benefit from the experience with regards to Corporate Social Responsibility)
- returning to the same job after having taken a sabbatical
- installing a sabbatical process that is binding for the whole company
- and much more.
Should your company and your boss still be very critical regarding sabbaticals (maybe because there is not one employee who has taken such a time-out so far) you will have to convince them of the opposite. But be careful: convincing does not mean forcing on to! It is very important to stand on the same side with your employer, not to work against them. You will be able to have much more support if you determine a shared goal. No matter what you want, if you start negotiating with your company there should always be a “win-win” situation: both sides should get something positive out of the time you spend away. If you want to know a lot of useful tipps and a great way learning some of the most powerful negotiation strategies you should read Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss.
TALK TO PEOPLE AND GET FIRST-HAND ADVICE
Nothing will be so helpful as talking to people who have exactly been in the same situation as you have right now, seen the same problems, dealing with the same thoughts. Is there anybody in your friend circle who has already taken a sabbatical and who you could ask for advice? Those contacts do not necessarily have to be in the close friends area, but can also be found online. Especially in the social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram..) are quite a number of people publicly talking about them being on a sabbatical. They would be more than happy to help you in any problem you might face during this new experience and to be part of when you reach your goals. Check our our Twitteraccount and you will find a lot of “sabbaticals” you can ask for advice. Futhermore, if you search in LinkedIn for people on sabbaticals, you will find quite a lot of chatpartners that will be likely to help you on your way to fulfilling your dreams.
“If the plan does not work change the plan but never the goal.”
There will always be times, like everywhere in life, when your will be frustrated and disappointed about things not working the way you wanted them to work. This is normal and should NEVER let you come to the conclusion that taking a sabbatical is impossible for you. Life is always giving us challenges, the art of life is to overcome them by fighting evern harder. So if you are facing some unexpected bumbs in the road, adapt your preparation to it, find new solutions, and learn from mistakes. It will all be rewarded in the end when you will nevertheless reach your goals you have set for yourself.