When is the best time in your career to take a sabbatical?
We often race through our workday towards a continuously receding finish line. We focus on goals that other people set for us: completing tasks, client feedback, and weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports. But what do high performers do when they get into a rut or realize their current job might not be the best fit for them? Fast Company recently wrote about a Google executive who put her career on pause to take a step back and reevaluate her career path with a sabbatical. The lessons she learned bear repeating.
Take a step back to propel your career forward.
The executive in Fast Company’s article suddenly had uncharacteristically low performance reviews, and she knew that she no longer found her job fulfilling. So she took a three month, unpaid sabbatical for self-reflection. Rather than travel or give in to the temptation of vast, unstructured free time, she set up a schedule of continued learning and personal growth. She restricted email to a short time frame once a day, left her home every day to take classes and form new bonds, and learned to meditate, earned a coaching certificate, and took time to study leadership development. Although it seems contrary to popular advice, this time gave her the clarity to select a new career that has helped her achieve a higher degree of success, job satisfaction, and ultimately happiness.
Signs it is time for a new perspective or a full sabbatical
If your job used to make you excited for Monday morning, but you now eagerly await next Friday night once this Sunday rolls around, that is a warning sign. If your supervisor has candid conversations that lead you to believe things are not working out in this role, or if you start seeing opportunities that capture your interest more than your current job, then you might need change more than you realize.
Although Google is one of only 15% of companies in the United States that permit unpaid sabbaticals, there are ways to carve out time for ourselves on a consistent basis without sacrificing a regular source of income. Some options include pursuing a certification in an area of interest or learning a new skill that could help you interact with and manage others. Another option is something we advise people who contact us when they are looking for new opportunities: ask yourself how your current career is performing compared with your expectations. Are you truly happy in this position or industry? If not, then take time to reflect on which parts of your job you love, and which you would rather trade for a different set of responsibilities. Be honest with yourself and more importantly, accept your answers and make a plan to move forward.
Read the full story by Stephanie Vozza on Fast Company.