Will Taking A Sabbatical to Travel Hurt my Career?
For the ambitious adventure seeker, finding a balance between your passion for travel, and getting to the top in your field can be a tough balancing act. Often this results in work coming first, but eventually, this can lead to career fatigue and regret later in life.
So, is it possible to “take a break” from your blossoming career to explore the world, without it hurting your future success?
In my opinion, the answer is a big fat YES, but, only if you put in the work!
Ask Your Boss
Don’t be afraid of talking to your boss about your idea to take a sabbatical; this is especially true for those of you who would like to go back to the same job or company.
A good boss understands the importance of a happy team, and the correlation between productivity and a good work/life balance.
The truth is that not every company will be able to hold your position for you, but if that’s what you’re looking for - by being open, up front, and explaining why you think that this break will help your productivity, you may find that they’re open to the discussion.
Don’t rush this discussion, and certainly don’t go in telling your boss that you intend to fly to the other side of the world by the end of the week.
Plan this out months in advance if you can, you don’t want to burn bridges - even if you don’t intend to return to the company
Keep on Learning
Taking a break from your career can lead to a promotion, and while that may initially sound counterintuitive, once I explain how - it should make perfect sense.
When you’re working a 9-5, all of your energy is spent on the tasks at hand, whereas; a break can allow you the time and brain power to focus on educating yourself and learning the skills necessary to jump up that career ladder.
Sure, travel the world, ride in that hot air balloon, and sip your pina colada by the beach - but read books, take online courses, and volunteer too! You really can have the best of both worlds if you’re willing to put in the work.
Stay Up To Date In Your Field
Way back when, I worked in the fashion industry; and even though I haven’t worked in this industry for quite some years, I wouldn’t rule out a return to the industry at some point in the future.
For that reason, I try to find time to read the top industry blogs and follow the latest style trends.
In any industry, you can quickly be left behind if you don’t keep moving forward, so if you're planning on returning to your industry - setting aside some time to read, and even follow some industry-specific Instagram accounts can ensure that you don't feel overwhelmed upon your return.
Get Those Creative Juices Flowing
I don’t know about you guys, but when I worked a 9-5, I was exhausted at the end of the day - pretty much my weekdays consisted of work, gym, dinner, sleep - repeat. And the weekends were filled with errands, catching up on sleep, and hanging out with friends.
But as a creative person who always has mad ideas for ways to take over the world, my schedule and workload left my brain fizzled out and I was too tired to work on projects outside of work.
If you’ve ever read about the dudes and dudettes that have made it big in their chosen field, whether it’s business, sport, or music - almost everyone at the top has dedicated themselves -- and their brain power -- to their specific area.
Taking a sabbatical can give you the freedom to do that, and see whether your passion project could turn into your full-time gig.
Explaining a Career Break
After your time away from your career, if you decide to get back into the rat race - sure, a potential employer might wonder what you were doing if not "working" in the traditional sense.
But this is not a strike against you - in fact, this is an excellent way for you to stand out from all of the other candidates vying for the same position as you.
Imagine you’re in an interview, and the lady interviewing you says “I see that you haven’t been employed for the past year” instead of clamming up and going “Oh yeah, I guess.”
Wow her with tales of trekking through the Andes, and how that experience taught you how to work as a team despite cultural differences, and how it has given you a newfound excitement towards your specific field, and boom - you might have just got the job, you’re welcome!
Update Your CV
As well as being able to eloquently describe how your career break has helped you develop both personally and professionally, you should update your CV to reflect the additional qualifications, areas of expertise, or volunteering experiences you undertook while you were out of the office.
Don’t hide your sabbatical, be proud of it, and show that you're confident in your decision to take the time off and that it was the right decision to make.
Be Confident In Your Abilities
Many people find that they can be lacking in confidence after a stint away from work, and they can begin to second guess their abilities.
I find the best way to snap myself out of a brief spell of “Imposter syndrome” is to sit down, and do some work - it’s a great way to remind yourself that you kick ass at what you do, and get your confidence back to where it should be!
A Change is as Good as a Rest!
Not all of us have an endless bank account, and a full-on sabbatical can be impossible to afford, but if you need a rest from your current career path, then why not opt for a change?
I have found the saying “A change is as good as a rest” to be very much true, and where possible it's best to pick something very different - for example, if you currently work for a bank, how about getting a new job on the other side of the world teaching at horse riding camps?
Or if you’re working in the hustle and bustle of the hospitality industry, why not move out into the country and work as a freelance writer?
You never know, you may even find that your “Break” turns into your new career!
Try a Switch In Careers
If you’ve studied and worked in the same field for your entire life, it can be hard to take a step back, and change your area of focus - but as hard as it is; if you’re thinking about it - it’s likely because your real passion lies elsewhere.
Don’t be afraid of going from one industry or job to another. I have worked in the fashion industry, the tech industry, and now I work in publishing - whenever I have changed roles, it has, of course - come with its own set of challenges, but each change has also brought far more rewards.
When I was initially considering making a move away from fashion, I was terrified that I was giving up money and success for what could be the biggest flop of all time.
I was utterly wrong, and since taking that first step outside of my career comfort zone, I am less scared to do the same again, and having that mindset has allowed me to find far more success and happiness than if I had stayed in what I considered the “safe” option.
Let’s face it, worst comes to the worst, you can always go back to your career - no matter how many years may pass, if you’re great at your job, you’ll always be able to go back.
It might not be in the same company, heck - it might not even be the same position, but life is a winding road, not a straight path from A to B, so enjoy that scenic route.
I always like to look at some of the best things that have happened to me and what scary thing I had to say yes to get there.
If I hadn’t said yes to a job offer from a Norwegian tech company, I would have never met David - who we all know is the most magical human in the world!
So trust me, taking the leap of faith and saying yes to crazy ideas is what life is all about… well, the fun kind of life anyway!
Happy Travels xx