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Debunking The Myths About Going On A Sabbatical

Contrary to popular myth, you really don’t have to be rich and have a lot of freedom to take a sabbatical, and the thousands of people around the world who are on their sabbaticals right now are proof! You could be one of them, too! 

 

As with many things in life, we have some set beliefs that we have picked up over time. For some, particularly around the topic of taking a sabbatical, we automatically exclude it from being a possibility for us because we think, well, we just can’t. We subconsciously create our own limitations for ourselves, whether that be financial limitations, time limitations, or logistical ones. We often don’t even try.

But let’s flush out some of these subconscious limitations together:

Myth #1: “I can’t afford to take a sabbatical” 

The biggest one out there is the financial limitation.

Now there is some truth to this one. Sabbaticals come with all sorts of budgets, but the great thing about them is you can tailor your own trip to suit your personal circumstances. With proper planning and support, you can financially prepare yourself for your trip ahead of time. 

We like to think through sabbatical planning the way an engineer might approach a seemingly unsolvable problem. First, we identify our constraints as a way to build our guardrails. Then, we build out a sabbatical plan that either fits within those guardrails – like a fixed budget – or we think creatively about how we can play with other variables, like building in another income stream to help create more flexibility in that budget. 

For example, if your proposed budget is based on existing savings and is lower than you want, there are options available that involve working overseas or generating some income online to help flex the money variable. When we can think outside of the box, the possibilities are endless. Some companies even offer paid sabbaticals! 

The affordability of a sabbatical depends on your personal expenses leading up to it, what you want to do on your sabbatical, and what income streams you may have. You have control over all of these variables, and you can maneuver them in lots of different ways. For example, if you have the capacity to sublet while you’re away, that can aid in reducing your expenses, or at least ensure you aren’t paying for too much to keep your base back home up and running while you’re gone. 

Some individuals are able to work remotely while they are away too. Or you may be able to get a part-time job, like teaching English or working in a bar, to help fund a portion of your expenses abroad.

Surprisingly, some travelers even end up saving money while they are away by choosing to stay in countries where the cost of living is significantly lower than that of their home country.

Having realistic expectations for your trip is important. If you are planning on traveling extensively and you are seeking luxury for the duration of your trip, then your sabbatical is obviously going to be more expensive. Remember, you have control over your trip, which means you can create something that is truly tailored to your budget and your needs. What’s more, sabbatical planning can really improve your relationship with your personal finances!

Myth #2: There’s no way my employer will let me take a sabbatical

Currently, few employers have recognized sabbatical programs in the US. Far fewer offer paid sabbaticals. But, those that do have a lot of pride in their programs and experience great employee retention rates. Employees who feel valued are always more likely to want to stay with a company.

Before writing your company off with a ‘no’, take time to re-read that employee handbook they gave you on your first day to see if there’s any mention of a sabbatical program. If there isn’t and you love your job and you are committed to it, ask your employer about your options. Ensure you do your research first and think about how a sabbatical will help you to become a stronger employee and improve your workplace contributions. Could you use the time to learn a new skill that would make you more of an asset to the team when you get back? It never hurts to ask. 

Click here to find out how to approach your manager about taking a sabbatical. And if your employer doesn’t believe in a sabbatical, another option is to leave your current position when you start your sabbatical and find a more aligned job when you come back. With your sabbatical experience, your resume can look even better.

Click here to learn more about a sabbatical can help boost your career.

Myth #3: I’m too old to take a sabbatical, it’s too late for me

Taking a sabbatical is all about taking control of your life and going after what you want. There is no age limit on living a life that lights you up or on checking off those magical bucket list moments. 

 

The age range of sabbatical-takers goes from the mid-twenties to pre-retirement!…so pretty much an entire working life.

 

At different stages in your life, you’ll likely seek – and get – different things out of your sabbatical. Being in your 30s, 40s, and 50s is a brilliant time to do it. You have an understanding of yourself and you may have a clearer idea of what your non-negotiables might be. You have the ability to create a sabbatical experience that has meaning to you. 

 

There is no such time as the ‘perfect time’. For some, it’s before having children, for others it’s after their grandchildren are born. And for some, it’s simply taking advantage of an unforeseen gap in employment while there’s money in the bank and they are healthy and able to travel.

 

If you are feeling the call to take a sabbatical, follow where you are led.

Myth #4: I’ll fall behind in my career and it will affect my future employability

Everyone feels as though they are behind at least once in their career. We see teenagers becoming millionaires, and digital nomads traveling the world with a sense of carefree ease. Social media shows us a lot of what we feel like we are missing. It’s an endless race at times.

Taking a sabbatical is about taking stock, it’s about discovering what is meaningful for you and your career without playing the game of comparison. It requires a sense of self-inquiry and inner clarity. And sometimes we have to get off the merry-go-round for a bit to be able to do it.

Everything in life comes with an element of risk, you just have to decide what is truly important for you. Sabbaticals are opportunities to learn something new, to open up to different ways of living, and to create experiences for you to remember even after you retire. An important element in overcoming worry and fear when it comes to sabbatical leave is being able to clearly articulate why you’re going in the first place. Practice telling people why, and be confident in it. This will help you communicate the importance of it to your manager, loved ones, and colleagues beforehand. You may be surprised by how envious everyone else around you is…even your manager!

And when you get back from your time away, you’ll undoubtedly have a new perspective, which is why we believe that taking a sabbatical will not only NOT ruin your career, but it can help GROW it! Learn more here.

A sabbatical is essentially a time for you to just be, well, a better version of you. So your reason for going needs to be important to you personally. It can be easy to allow other people’s thoughts and opinions to influence your own. Spend some time getting clear on what you want and why, and seek support when you are ready. 

Myth #5: I want to take a sabbatical in 10 years, so I’ll start planning later

Ten years may seem like a long time from now today, but years have a way of passing quickly while you’re building your career and going about daily life.

One concept we like to talk about is ‘designing your life’. This can have many facets. Financial, for sure, but can also include things like job roles you take on, relationships you nurture, hobbies you want to learn (photography, anyone?). It can also guide decisions around stuff you acquire, like buying vs. renting a house, getting a dog, investing in really nice pots and pans, or building up your collection of travel gear, etc.

Decisions you make today can set you on a trajectory that either makes taking a sabbatical on your planned timeline relatively easy or relatively difficult. In the end, it’s all about priorities. If you know you want to commit to growing your career for a number of years but then want to take a break to catch a breath and see what’s next, be kind to yourself by not creating obstacles for yourself when the time comes to break away. 

Are you ready to explore your sabbatical options? We’re here to help! As a financial planning firm specializing in sabbaticals, we help you make your dream a reality. 

Planning is such an important part of your sabbatical journey. We help you better understand the type of experience you want to have, and how to use smart financial tips to make it happen. 

If you’re ready to learn more, schedule a discovery call now or send us an email at clientservices@middletonand.co

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