Whether it be for a few months or a few years, taking a sabbatical can do wonders for your personal development.
Scott and I took 6 weeks off from our jobs in 2010 to travel around southeast Asia and the east coast of Australia and it was an amazing experience. I also took a 2 month sabbatical 6 years ago which has helped shape me into the person I am today.
I’ve come up with a few reasons why I find sabbaticals to be beneficial to hopefully inspire others to do the same…
Meet New People
If you work at a 9-5 job it can be difficult to find the time or energy to go out and meet new people. People often ask where one would even go to meet new people. Bars? That may have worked when you were in your early twenties, but most likely the idea of going to a bar and meeting a bunch of drunk people after the age of 30 doesn’t sound appealing. At least it doesn’t to me.
Scott and I met lots of interesting people in Australia and southeast Asia during our 6-week sabbatical. We met people who were interested in the same things as we are which doesn’t happen all that often when we are living our day to day lives at home in San Diego. We formed genuine friendships with some of these people and still keep in touch with them.
Learn New Skills
While taking a sabbatical you will have plenty of free time to learn a new skill or two. Have you ever wanted to learn a new language? Scott and I are trying to master Spanish and while we didn’t master it on our last trip (since we weren’t traveling in any Spanish speaking countries) we plan to do this on our South American adventure in 2012.
One of the things I wanted to do while traveling through Australia is get better at surfing. We surf pretty often in San Diego, but sometimes life and responsibilities get in the way and we are not able to surf as much as we would like to. It was a lot easier to surf twice a day while we were traveling through Australia and as you probably know if you do something daily you are bound to get better at it much quicker than if you do it occasionally.
Pursue Other Interests (Find Your Passion)
Is there a hobby that you love to do but just don’t have the time when you are working a full-time job? Before Scott and I took our 6-week trip in 2010, I never spent enough time on the things that mattered the most to me like photography and writing. I didn’t allow myself to spend much time on those things because I thought they were just a hobby.
It turns out that after this trip I realized I love these things too much for them to just be a hobby. Having this much time off from work made me realize that life is too short to be doing something for a living that I don’t love.
Sometimes just testing out different jobs you can do while traveling will help you find your passion while also making money!
A sabbatical can be an excellent time to give your body and mind the rest it needs. I personally have a hard time slowing down when I’m at home. There is always something to do.
When I’m traveling and off work, I seem to forget about all of those things I once thought were important. Taking an extended break can remind you of the things that are actually important in life such as your health and relationships.
Learn About Yourself & Gain Confidence
Without all of the daily distractions at work and home, it’s a lot easier to dig deeper into your subconscious and find out what makes you tick. You may already think you know yourself, but we are constantly evolving and changing. Taking time to get to know yourself can never be a bad idea.
Taking a break from work without pay can be scary, but I’m a firm believer in facing your fears. By taking yourself out of our comfort zone, you will be surprised at how much you can learn about yourself and gain confidence in your abilities.
Experience the World
Traveling for long periods of time can give you the opportunity to experience different cultures and how other people live. Often times we live our day to day lives stuck in tunnel vision and believe that our problems are monumental. Travel can teach us to look outside ourselves and realize that our lives are pretty good in the grand scheme of things.
Enjoy Life While You Still Have Your Youth
I’m not saying you should spend your entire life savings during a career break or sabbatical, but there is no harm in enjoying some of your hard earned money now while you have the health and ability to enjoy it. I have known far too many people who waited to enjoy their life until they turned 65 and sadly something happened to their health which prevented them from doing the things they had hoped to do during retirement.
None of us know how long we have on this earth so why not enjoy the time we know we have, which is right now. Give yourself the gift of a mini-retirement while you are still young enough to enjoy it!
Have you taken a sabbatical from work to travel? If so, can you add to this list?