3 Main Purposes for Sabbaticals

In my recent research on people who took sabbaticals, I was able to identify 3 main purposes that people had for what to accomplish on their break. Most people had a blend of these, but there was always one that took priority. The purpose you have can suggest the types of things you might choose to explore in designing your sabbatical.


One of the main purposes of a sabbatical, and the traditional one, is to rest. Our busy lives are always on, we run from one deadline to the next at work and time marches relentlessly forward. Taking a break from your normal work life gives you the opportunity, clearly, of resting. For most of us, our occasional vacations just aren’t long enough to really recover from the kind of stress we put ourselves under. A sabbatical can be an extended vacation and an opportunity to put the focus on your health and wellbeing.


A frequent dream sabbatical includes an element of exploration. Often it is through travel, which can range from a single location or an epic trip around the world. However, sometimes the exploration shows up in other ways, such as exploring alternative work, exploring ideas in creating something new (painting, writing, building a business, etc). It can also be exploring other cultures or environments via volunteer opportunities.


One sabbatical purpose that is gaining traction in our VUCA world is that of reimagining who you are and what you do. For many of us, the work we do today didn’t exist 20 years ago, and the work we’ll do in 10 years may not exist today. Taking a sabbatical to reimagine yourself can be a valuable use of time. This can range from exploring different careers, experimenting, mapping, reflecting and gaining educational experiences. Reimagining your life during a career break allows you to have the time to discover what is most important to you, what your dreams are, and what it takes to make them come true.

How are these 3 things related to designing your sabbatical? Well, clearly there are different types of activities you might explore based on what you are trying to accomplish with your sabbatical. Starting with your purpose, you can map out possibilities and prioritize more effectively.

You can plan your sabbatical and get the most from it. For most of us, a sabbatical is a rare life opportunity, so it’s important not to miss out on accomplishing what you are trying to do and to do it in a way that supports you.

I guess I just kind of let it happen, instead of following a structured plan. This reslutedd in a lot of problems with myself in terms of anxiety. I basically spontaneously said yes and three weeks later I was on a plane. I had a panic attack in that first month. -D

If you are thinking of taking a sabbatical, you might be interested in joining a pilot that I’m creating to help people to design their sabbaticals. This pilot workshop is limited and will help me develop more tools and resources for people like you.