A sabbatical is an extended break from work that can be paid or unpaid. Sabbaticals can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more (or more) and your job will be held for you while you’re gone.
Historically, sabbaticals were offered by universities for professors to do research, teach abroad, or further their skillset in their field of study. However, today’s sabbaticals aren’t just limited to educational institutions. They’re growing in popularity among workers in all fields who seek to volunteer and/or explore new horizons.
Sabbaticals are not vacations; they are a chance to recharge and a great way to prevent burnout. Employers benefit when their employees return with renewed energy and new skills.
Looking to take a sabbatical? Here’s everything you need to know.
How to Plan a Sabbatical
Planning a sabbatical requires careful thought and preparation because every part of your current life will be impacted. You’ll want to examine finances, logistics, and family needs.
Step 1: Check your company policy.
Your company may have accommodations for sabbaticals, including specific guidelines. For example, you may have to have worked at the company for a certain number of years to qualify. If your company does not have a policy for sabbaticals, that doesn’t mean you need to forget the idea. It just means that you might need to do a little more on your own.
Step 2: Research and apply for grants that fit your focus.
You don’t have to go it alone. You may qualify for a grant or fellowship that could finance all or part of your sabbatical. Here are just some examples:
- Lone Mountain Fellowships
- Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant for Researchers
- Marshall Memorial Fellowship
- Peace Corps
- Rotary Peace Fellowship
- Urban Leaders Fellowship
Step 3: Inform your employer.
Request a sabbatical with as much notice as possible. Present the request in writing, and include details on how the experience will provide value to the company. If your request is denied, you can still take a sabbatical; just know that your job will likely not be waiting for you when you return.
Step 4: Choose the start date and duration—but be flexible.
Having a timeframe helps you to plan your sabbatical. However, as you make plans, you may discover different opportunities. Be open to changing the start date and duration as you learn more.
Step 5: Plan your finances.
Just because you’re not working doesn’t mean that the bills will go away. If you have debt, such as rent or a mortgage, car payments, and other bills, you will need to determine how you’ll pay them. Be creative. For example:
- Consider opening a savings account to cover some of these costs.
- Your spouse might be still working and can pay the bills.
- You could get a part-time job during your sabbatical, such as house-sitting, which will still allow you to pursue your passion.
- You can rent out your house while you are elsewhere on sabbatical.
Step 6: Plan your exit strategy.
Give yourself enough time to train your replacement at work. Set up a place to hold or forward your mail. Communicate to co-workers, extended family and friends that you will be on sabbatical. Schedule the last few days before you start your sabbatical to ensure that you will be ready.
Step 7: Expect to have “cold feet.”
You’re about to make a drastic change in your everyday life. That can give anyone anxiety. Expect to feel unsure as you’re getting ready to embark on your adventure. You can do this!
Finding Your Purpose on Sabbatical
Your reason for taking a sabbatical is as individual as you are. People take sabbaticals for a variety of reasons.
- Do field research in an area of study
- Write a book
- Volunteer for a cause
- Travel the world
- Unplug and get back to nature
- Become an apprentice and learn a new skill
- Discover their roots
- Earn a certificate or degree
Do your research to find what resonates with you.
Staying Covered on Sabbatical
You’ll want to make sure that you are fully covered by insurance while you are away on sabbatical.
- If your company is sponsoring your sabbatical, check with your human resources department to see if they are also covering your health insurance. If not, you will have to pay out of pocket.
- If you have California Casualty, you can take a break from car insurance and not be penalized with the sabbatical benefit. Just inform your agent and they will let you know the guidelines that must be met.
- Let trusted friends, family members, or neighbors know of your absence, so they can keep eye on your property and prevent a burglary.
- Make arrangements for your pets.
- Consider travel insurance if you’ll be away from home.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.