Consider Your Reason.
Why are you looking to take a sabbatical or leave of absence? Is it burn out? Familial obligation? Personal illness, or a need to pursue your passions? OR is it because you hate your job?
If it’s the last, that you hate your job, consider searching for a job while you still have one. Take your time, ask around internally, start handing out applications externally. If your job is slow enough, apply while you work. The act of applying will help lessen the feeling of frustration and anger for the job you’re in. It gives you something to hope for, without having to explain any gaps in work.
If you’re looking for time off for other reasons, continue on.
Do You Have the Savings or Paid Leave?
Ask your company about paid leave. Whether for stress or other reasons. Some companies offer up to three months leave with pay, but usually at a fraction of your wage.
Start making a budget when you feel you need extended time off. Cut out non necessary expenses, add up your monthly expenses, then double it. Trust me, you’re going to want to double your projected monthly expenses because I can guarantee there’s something there you’re not thinking of, or that’ll come up once you’re off.
Whether with savings or paid leave, can you afford this time off? Yes – great! No? Time to look at other options, shorter time off, or financial help etc.
Will There Be Repercussions?
If you plan to return to your job after the time off, will there be repercussions? Just because a company allows for short term leave, doesn’t mean it’ll be easy going back.
Ensure your job will be there, and that any policy or training changes are communicated with you while you’re off. No need to stress about going back, or there’d be no point in a leave of absence.
If you’re taking the leave on your own dime, how’s the company going to treat you when you come back? Is it worth it? Is your job secure enough if you’re taking leave without official leave?
In my case I took leave with a company that only offers 3 days for “extended leave” with a doctor’s note. I left for 3 months. My boss was amazing when it came down to having to “quit” to get on leave. I was given a mandatory rehire order on my paperwork and the promise of my job and pay when I got back. My boss followed through and things ran smoothly.
Is this the case with your company? Do you trust your boss, management and human resources enough to follow through once you’re ready to come back? Will your job still be there, and will you take any pay cuts or risk moving up in the future?
Do You Have Support? – Financially, Emotionally, to Keep You Motivated?
This falls back to why you’re looking to take time off.
Is it for medical reasons? Do you have someone to help you out when you’re too sick to make it to appointments or if you can’t drive. Is there someone to help ensure you take your medication or just to check up on you to see how you’re doing. Be sure to have someone to stay accountable to, this ensures you’re using your time off to get better, not just to wallow in your illness.
Are you taking time for a passion project? Do you have someone to follow up with your work, to make sure you’re using your time off wisely? Someone to share your progress with and to keep you on track?
Do you have someone, a spouse, family member etc, to fall back on if things don’t go well? Someone to help you find a new job if your company lets you go or you choose not to go back. Someone to help out financially if something happens? Or a back up plan for if things go wrong?
Be Prepared for Guilt
Know that no matter what reason you’re taking leave, you will feel guilty. There will be plenty of “I wish I didn’t have to work” or “I wish I was lucky enough”
There will be plenty of nay sayers and doubt. A lot of second guessing and feeling guilty that you’re not getting enough one, you’re not getting better faster or that things are easier for you than others (which they aren’t, you’re going to be broke just FYI).
Take the sabbatical if you need it. You’re clearly doing your research and making sure this is the right thing for you. If you need it, take it!
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