The Case for Sabbaticals and Why We All Need a Break from Work

A step back from work can help recharge your batteries and give you a fresh perspective on work and life

Paul Millerd
The Startup


Hualien, Taiwan — Taken in 2021

After I quit my job in 2017 I spent 5 weeks in Europe. It was the longest break from the “real world” I had ever taken and in the second week, I started to feel extremely guilty. I became hyper-aware of the script in my head that said I should be working or that at minimum, I should be trying to make money. By the fourth week, I started to relax in a way that enabled me to look at my life in a way that I hadn’t in nearly ten years. What was happening? I sensed that I had just embarked on a path that had something worth finding.

As I started writing about this experience and about my relationship with work, I attracted others who had similar stories and I noticed some patterns emerging. These patterns were similar across different ages, levels of wealth ad geography. Only one thing seemed to make a long-term sustainable improvement in someone’s relationship with work.

That thing? Taking an extended break from work.

A Quick History: Sabbaticals In Universities