Fast Company

Not So Radical Sabbatical

In the past, Fast Company has espoused the notion of radical sabbaticals -- time taken away from the office to explore other opportunities and develop new skills. Like anything, there's a right way and a wrong way to take time off to renew, but perhaps, just as you can leverage a sabbatical while in between projects, you can use them to shift gears in your career, as well.

Enter VocationVacations, a service that helps clients try out their dream jobs -- with a dedicated mentor -- for a few days. Options range from architect to zookeeper and include some real ringers -- Mississippi River boat cub pilot! If you could take some time to explore another career path, what would you do? How far afield would you explore?

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6 Comments

  • Sharon

    I need a sabbatical like I need oxygen and water. I need to do it before the stress of IT work causes me to have a stroke at 40.

  • Mike

    Up here in Toronto, Canada, I am currently in a situation just like Kelly's. I saw my lay-off as a federal parole officer coming a few months in advance. To be forced into a "sabbatical" these days compels you to think about what you want and which direction to go into next.

    Garbage men and grocery clerks certainly may not have the time or inclination to take a sabbatical, but if they are laid-off that changes everything. The contingency of so many jobs today causes most people to explore other options in hopes it will prevent them from being laid-off in the future.

  • Phil

    Ouch to Bump Engrid's comments. I hated my last job and just couldn't organise myself. I am now on a year's sabbatical. Life is too short to be stuck in a lousy job.

  • Kelly Schneyer

    Last year I was working for the Seattle School District doing tech support work. I knew I would be losing my job a year in advance, so that meant I had a year to figure out what was next for me. I knew I hated tech work, so I explored other options. I seriously considered getting my MBA in Whole Systems Design, with a pretty hefty price tag. My husband thought I was already pretty good at that, so would I need to spend that kind of money on a degree? After carefully considering his query, I told my husband around April/May that I really felt I needed some time off - a sabbatical of sorts to figure my sh*t out. He had just opened a shop a few months prior. Sales were doing pretty well, but not enough to instill great confidence that we'd be okay without my $3k/month paycheck. We made it work. We moved into a cheaper apartment, share rides more frequently, eat out less, etc. Just after a month of my two month sabbatical, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I want to become a Labor Support Doula (a birth coach)part-time, and do consulting part-time. When I was exploring my career options while I was working, it never ever occured to me that I could do something of that nature. Five months later I'm still not working, but I'm on track to do something I care about and I was never cornered into taking a job out of desperation. We are also opening another shop next month, with me being largely responsible for process management. Without that break, I doubt I would have had the confidence to think outside of the box. I'm really grateful that my husband gave me the okay to take time off. I understand that there are people out there who would love to take a sabbatical, but can't due to any number of reasons. But, it doesn't mean that a sabbatical is for a tiny sector of special people. A lot of those folks spend a month's salary on vacations, new TVs, new cars, trying to keep up with the latest greatest thing. In certain cases, it is really a matter of where one wants to focus their money, energy, and time. In our case, I was willing to give up cable TV, buying new shoes on a whim, fewer plants for my garden, and my great apartment with a view of the Olympic mountains in exchange for peace of mind and longer lasting happiness.

  • Bump Engrind

    Sabbaticals are the rich man's whimsy. Does the garbage man or grocer take a sabbatical to explore his life options? No. He works to support his family. Fast Company is for the effete, for the people who pay three dollars for 25 cent cup of coffee and think they're trendy. The common man pays 25 cents for his cup of coffee and is grateful for a couple weeks vacation each year.