Taking a sabbatical is equal parts exhilaration and trepidation, even if you have a clear idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. Whatever you’re planning, you’re leaving (at least temporarily) the security of your job to pursue a dream, broaden your horizons, and learn more about yourself.
For educators, people who are by the nature of their career choice, people who bring the world to others, a sabbatical which shows you the world and all that a person can be could be the single most valuable piece of CPD you could embark upon in your career.
It’s a journey of self-discovery as much as anything else, but it’s also scary. The better you plan for a sabbatical, the less daunting it will be, and you’ll derive more from the experience if you’re not “winging it.” It’s a major life commitment, so you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to make the most of it and spend the time wisely.
Explaining Your Rationale
It can be hard to explain to your colleagues why you’re leaving and why you’re going there. Some won’t understand the reason or the difference between what you’re planning and an extended vacation, and jealousy sometimes is the result. The more you can convince co-workers and superiors that you’ll leave everything in good shape with no loose ends for them to clean up, the more likely you are to be on good terms when you return.
A sabbatical is ultimately your decision, but if your intention is to resume your position when you return, it makes sense to communicate what you hope to achieve. You never know — you might just inspire someone else to venture off on their own journey of self-discovery.
A Clean Slate
It takes time, and it’s not always easy, but you’ll need to make sure your new life gets off to a good start by leaving behind a clean slate. If you rent, will you sublet? And what will you do with your belongings? Some people put them into storage or get rid of some belongings so they can start fresh when they get back. If you own a house, consider renting it out while you’re away.
For many people, leaving with a clean financial slate is the hardest thing to do, especially if you have multiple debts. See if a friend or relative can continue making payments in your absence, or arrange to make automated payments until you get back. If your sabbatical will take you to remote locations, it’s worth your while to take out travel health insurance in case you require emergency medical care during your journey.
Some sabbaticals require a great deal of logistical planning, particularly if your plans include volunteering at missions in different parts of India or backpacking across Australia and paying for accommodations by doing day work for hostels or organic farms. In any event, you’ll need a reliable budget and an emergency fund. Arranging logistics is where your journey begins to take physical form and includes booking international flights, reserving rental cars, identifying bus lines, and finding affordable places to stay as you travel.
It’s important to be flexible about travel arrangements and to be prepared when things don’t go as planned. In fact, sometimes your most memorable encounters happen when things go off the rails. You may decide on your own to veer off your intended course from time to time; don’t worry as much about timetables as getting the most from the journey.
In some parts of the world, it might make sense to purchase a car instead of arranging rentals or spending a lot of money on Uber. People spending extended time in Australia often buy a vehicle and sell it when their trip is over. If you do decide to buy, bear in mind where you’ll be driving — a Ford or Chevy may not get you there.
Laying the groundwork for a sabbatical is often the hardest part. Some people might object out of misunderstanding or jealousy. Stick to your convictions, and focus on what you need to do to put your affairs in order before departing. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s important to carry on according to your original vision and be ready for the unexpected. You’ll be rewarded with personal inspiration, renewed passion, and a more expansive perspective.
About the author
About 6 years ago, Eva Benoit left her job as an office manager to pursue being a life, career, and overall wellness coach. She specializes in helping professionals with stress and anxiety, but welcomes working with people from all walks of life. She works with her clients to discover and explore avenues that will bring them balance, peace, and improved overall well-being that can last a lifetime.