Career break or sabbatical – which road should you take?


Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. –Maya Angelou

It’s very easy to get caught up in a whirpool of constant activity. Your job, your boss, your family, your friends – all of them demand something of you that you can’t help but give in to them. Before you know it, you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be one with yourself. Although some brush this off by a self-proclaimed ‘workaholic’ tag, that’s not what this really is.

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Denying yourself the chance to spend time with yourself is possibly as unhealthy as stuffing your face with a three-course cheese pasta. When you don’t even give yourself a second to stop, reflect and breathe, you tend to lose sight of yourself. What do YOU want to do with your free time? How do YOU feel about going to work? What do YOU want to accomplish by the end of the day?

It’s important to take a break once in a while. No, not the Ross and Rachel kind, but rather, one from your own self-indulged constant flux of overworking. Now the question is, do you need a temporary breather to rejuvenate yourself before you get back to your stable work life and start afresh? Or, do you just need a clean cut break from everything that’s been your reality for the past couple of months?

You could either take a ‘sabbatical’ or a ‘career break’, depending on your situation. These two terms have often been mistaken to be synonymous. However, there are flagrant differences between the two. The primary difference being that in a sabbatical, the company, or the concerned institution, usually holds the necessary provisions to allow you a leave (partially paid or unpaid) for a certain time period with the security of returning to your old job. When it comes to a career break, it means you hand over your official resignations papers to your boss and walk out of the office to mark a clear break before you jump back on the job wagon.

So which one makes more sense? Which one will get you better returns in the future?

There are a few pertinent factors to keep in mind when you’re standing at the crossroads. The first, and most important, is – are you happy where you are? Do you think that this is the job for you? Because there’s always the possibility that you are working your dream job and you’ve just gotten a bit over-wired with it and need a desperate breath of fresh air to clear your head. In this case, it is advisable to take a sabbatical, because you don’t want to give away your dream job for a temporary lapse of judgement. You just need some time off to recollect your talents which you can feed on when you return.

However, if you’ve had it with your job and you want to cry when your alarm rings each morning, then you’ve probably reached the end of your tether, and it’s time to move on to something new. A career break offers you a gap period where you search for your ideal job and make the lunge the minute you catch whiff of it.

Now when it comes to finances, it’s a bit of a tricky situation. Some companies have policies where employees can receive a part of their due during their sabbaticals. However, there’s always a possibility that it could be an unpaid leave as well, depending on the time period. All the same, you will feel secured knowing that they you have your job kept on hold waiting for you while you take a break. If you plan on marking a clean break from your old job, it would mean managing without any form of income for a little while. In this case, it’s best to save up as much as you can before quitting your job.

So as the two roads diverge in the woods, would you take the one less travelled by?