Author Topic: Sabbatical anyone?  (Read 10440 times)

Trudie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1649
Sabbatical anyone?
« on: July 11, 2014, 12:21:59 PM »
I realize that for many people the terms sabbatical, quitting, early retirement, semi-retirement, working for oneself, and consultant could mean about the same thing -- it all depends on how you define them, perceive them, and comes down to matters of semantics.  I am not wanting to debate the semantics but am just trying to get some feedback from people who've taken sabbaticals (as I'm defining below).

My definition of sabbatical:  A defined period of time in which you take a break from your current employment for rest, renewal, learning new skills, and hitting the "re-set" button on your life.  It is a goal-oriented period in which you set goals for yourself (personal improvement, travel, professional, etc) and not a "freefall" (i.e., "I'm just going to hang out at the house and go back to work when the mood strikes me...")  At the end of this period you may go back to paid employment, but not necessarily your former job (and this would not likely be the case in mine.)

My husband is an academic and so has options periodically for sabbaticals in which he can take either a year off at half pay, or a half year off at full pay... then return to his job.  I am lobbying him to do one in the next year.  If he did I'd quit my job in a heartbeat and tag along.

But, sometimes I think:  "Create your OWN sabbatical" and have thoughts of doing this myself to hit the re-set button on my life.  It would be highly doubtful that I would return to my current job, for that is one of the things I am trying to escape.  But, it would give me an opportunity to return to another job, maybe try a new field, practice Mustachianism, and gather the resources for the next phase of my life.  During this time I envision that I would do some or most of the following:  actively transition to living on even less (adapting to different health insurance plan, etc.), give up my commute, maintain my CPA license but perhaps do project work and volunteer work, work on a landscape design certificate, read, do home-making kinds of things (to save money), basically engage in creative endeavors that I cannot do now.

Has anyone here taken a similar sabbatical, and what can you tell me about it?  What advice can you offer?

I am 43; my husband is almost 53.  Part of it is that he can easily retire early in a few years.  I want to figure out what I'm going to do.  And I just feel burned out by the current arrangement.  It's hard considering other possibilities when you're on the hamster wheel.

I also think the concept of sabbatical would be understood well in the small academic community where we live and the larger one we'll probably retire to... I don't think it would be negatively perceived.  Also, even though I'd have no intention of returning to my current job and would be clear on that upon leaving, I'd like to be able to cast in it this manner because quite honestly it's not all about my employer or my current job.  It's about way more than that and I don't want to burn bridges.

Gray Matter

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3586
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2014, 03:41:37 PM »
I think it's a fabulous idea, and honestly, seems like it should be a built-in part of all of our lives.  Who wouldn't benefit from something like this?  I've been hoping for years that my husband's company would send him on an expat assignment so I'd be forced to take a sabbatical, because I desperately want one and don't have the courage to do it on my own.

I'm really conservative (read: insecure) about my ability to find employment, even though I've never been laid off or unemployed or unable to find meaningful work.  It's just a personality trait.  So I would only do it if I'd run all the numbers and felt confident that I could go years without finding a job at the same pay grade, if we could live just fine on my husband's income in perpetuity (but then I'd worry about the security of his job), and ideally if we were FI and neither of us had to work another day in our lives.

In your case, I'm assuming your husband is tenured and has excellent job security and that as a CPA, you could at least find seasonal work.  So I say "go for it!" and I'll just stand over here on the sidelines cheering you on and wishing I had the courage to do what you're doing. 

deborah

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8033
  • Location: At Home
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2014, 04:46:45 PM »
I guess I have done something like this - twice.

The first time, I had organised for 6 weeks leave, and the reason for the leave fell through at the last minute. I thought seriously about not taking the leave, and then decided to have a "me" holiday - working through all the things that were slowing my life down. I wrote a list of what I wanted to do, and worked through these. Some of them were working on fitness and health, some were checking out all expenditures and tightening these up, and there were some learning things. It was a really good holiday, and it set me up for a good while.

The second time was when I was ready to retire, but wasn't quite sure. I was accepted into a course I wanted to do, so I took 9 months off work (the academic year) and did the course part time. The rest of the time I researched retirement and what I really wanted to do, as well as working through some of the things that I did the first time. This break gave me a clear idea of what I wanted to do in retirement. I didn't really go back to work after this, as I worked a total of a week, went on some more leave, and retired for good.

dragoncar

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8324
  • Registered member
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2014, 05:13:01 PM »

My husband is an academic and so has options periodically for sabbaticals in which he can take either a year off at half pay, or a half year off at full pay... then return to his job. 

Sorry, nothing to share here but would love a sabbatical if possible.  One question though:  Say your husband makes $X/year.  If he takes a year off, he gets $X/2?  And if he takes 6 mo off and then works 6 more months he also gets $X/2 or does he get $X?

Spartana

  • Guest
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2014, 05:59:24 PM »
I've taken a couple of sabbaticals in my life. One for about 2 years to travel (backpacker style) and then went back to my old job afterwards. Then a second one that was suppose to be for a few years - 5 at most - before going back to work (probably at a different job but same field). That one changed into FIRE about a year into it when I realized I could actually live on less money then I thought I needed, and could make it permanent retirement (I was 42) if I sold my paid off house and downsized. So that's what I did. Also knew I'd get a small government pension once I turned 50 so had that to look forward to. I was also debt free, low expenses, no kids and single - all of which helped me be able to take either a long sabbatical or ER. Other than a small disability payment from the VA (few hundred bucks/month) for a disability/injury I got while in the armed forces, I had no income either time - just lived off savings.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 06:04:26 PM by Spartana »

DollarBill

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 902
  • Age: 44
  • Location: Austin TX
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2014, 06:02:42 PM »
Yes Please!

limeandpepper

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4423
  • Location: Australasia
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2014, 07:06:32 PM »
I'm embarking on mine very soon! About to visit family and travel through Asia with my partner for around 5 months, maybe longer. We don't yet know what we'll do after the allocated 5 months. We may decide to continue the travel lifestyle, or we may settle down for a while. For me, this is definitely hitting the re-set button in a big way. It's all a little scary but also hugely exciting. For my personality type, all I can say is, if you want to do it, have a plan of action and start executing it step by step. You don't have to have it all planned out, but if you have certain things you want to achieve, then having your own guidelines would help, and you can be flexible with them as you go. My last day of working at my job is this month, but I've been planning my escape since the beginning of this year. :)  I started a journal on this forum to track my progress as well, which has been amazingly helpful - I've got my own information stored elsewhere, but they can be kind of scattered, so I actually love going to my own journal as a point of reference - if I didn't have this, I'd probably start a personal blog instead for the same benefits.

Emg03063

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 458
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2014, 07:16:52 PM »
I'm on my 2nd.  Neither was planned.  I don't have any advice to offer other than save your money.

Spartana

  • Guest
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2014, 07:24:50 PM »
Another little bit of advise it to "try" it out (sabbatical, travel, whatever) for a month or 2 if you can (leave of absence from work?) before making any long term or non-reversible decisions. I know of many people who longed to quit their jobs, sell everything and uproot their lives to travel in some way and ended up hating it.  But they had already made major changes to their lives - left the job, sold the house, bought the sailboat, RV or whatever, bought the airline tickets and grass hut in some remote island in the pacific, etc... - and it was hard for them to go back to their old lives when it didn't work out. So if you, OP, haven't had a chance to experience the life you dream of before hand, find a way to do it without making big life-altering chances first. Once you know what you like or dislike, then you can make the big long term sabbatical plans (or ER plans) for the future.  There was an old Albert Brooks comedy movie called "Lost In America" about a couple in their 30's who quit their jobs, sold their home, bought an RV and wanted to head out on adventures. About an hour out they hated it and wished they could go back to how it was before.  I always tell friends to watch it before they decide to sell it all and go off to live on a desert island - or buy an expensive RV.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 07:32:15 PM by Spartana »

RapmasterD

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 589
  • Location: SF Peninsula
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2014, 07:41:41 PM »
But Albert Brooks is so depressing. i mean really!!

So...I'm taking what I'd call an "open ended sabbatical" starting on September 1st. My eight year younger wife will continue working.

mikecorayer

  • Guest
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2014, 07:44:45 PM »
I suppose you could say I took a sabbatical from work last year and I'm glad that I did. Basically I quit (without burning any bridges - no epic FU story here) and then I actually ended up returning to my job (teaching psychology at an international school) a year later when they asked me back. This wasn't originally my plan, I really just wanted some time to work on some other things without a full time job in the way. I had been saving and investing for several years, so I knew I could handle not having income for a year or so without much worry. I actually ended up increasing my net worth during my year off, though this was from exceptionally good market returns (and, of course, low living expenses), so I'm not really FIRE yet. Taking time away helped me to remember why I wanted to teach in the first place and I was able to return with higher motivation and greater dedication to my job. So while in retrospect I sometimes think it would be nice to be one year closer to FIRE (if I had stayed earning), I think I'm much happier that I took a break and returned knowing it was what I wanted to be doing.

gimp

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2348
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2014, 07:52:11 PM »
Many companies offer sabbaticals. 6 weeks, 2 months, 3 months... good deal.

Spartana

  • Guest
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2014, 09:31:52 PM »
But Albert Brooks is so depressing. i mean really!!

So...I'm taking what I'd call an "open ended sabbatical" starting on September 1st. My eight year younger wife will continue working.
Yeah but it WAS a comedy. Probably not applicable to a sabbatical where the person retains their home, money and has a working spouse(more for those ER types who want to cash it all in and be full time RVers). And of course what happened to them - losing all their money after 4 days on the road would never happen to a mustachian RVer!

So what do you plan to do on your sabbatical?

Daisy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2003
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2014, 10:11:28 PM »
I know of many people who longed to quit their jobs, sell everything and uproot their lives to travel in some way and ended up hating it.

Yeah, that's what worries me about people on this forum just graduating from college or starting out in their young lives and obsessing over FIRE. I mean, let's not kid ourselves, FIRE will/is be awesome, but mostly awesome because we know what we are FIRE-ing from. If your sole obession is to FIRE to the exclusion of doing other things, you won't enjoy the journey along the way or figure out what you'd like to do.

Everyone wants what they can't have. I have a friend that has two children, is a SAHM, never worked much outside of the house and didn't develop a career, has a husband that makes a lot of money so they live in a nice house - and she was telling some of us working women how she wished she could go to work. She idealized this life that we led in the office, travelling. I laughed and said I wanted her life. But maybe I wouldn't have felt that way earlier in my life or in her shoes. She wants what I have and I want what she has (well not really as I accept where I am and it's pretty good...just want her not working part ;-) ).

As far as sabbaticals, I kind of had one - if you count getting laid off and being consciously unemployed for 5 months (as in I didn't look for work and wanted to enjoy the time off). It was a wonderful time, somewhat close to FI but not quite there. So I knew I had to go back to work at something at some point. I thought it was career change time, but my old-old employer messed up those plans by calling me to come back and work for them. During that time I took art classes that I always wanted to take, hung out with my cycling friends a lot more, took long walks around my neighborhood and discovered a lot of new things, took care of my aging parents.

Now, I am inches away from FIRE. So although I'd love a sabbatical, I think it would just extend my working life just a bit and I'd rather just suffer through my OMY syndrome like a good little girl. I am coping by taking my abundant PTO time as week-long staycations this summer. I just had one this week and going back to work will be tough, but it was totally necessary to take the time off...and dream...

A co-worker accepted a voluntary severance package recently and she was telling me of her sabbatical plans. She called it her gap year. I am trying to live vicariously through her.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 10:14:43 PM by Daisy »

theconcierge

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 42
  • Location: Australia | Canberra
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2014, 11:58:54 PM »
I am planning on cycling from one end of America to the other in 2016. No internet, no phone - just me and the road and the locals I meet along the way

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6080
  • Location: BC
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2014, 12:39:14 AM »
Well, 6 month mat leave on personal savings is not really a sabbatical, but boy was I ready to use my mind again!

Spartana

  • Guest
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2014, 10:11:58 AM »
I am planning on cycling from one end of America to the other in 2016. No internet, no phone - just me and the road and the locals I meet along the way
My Dream!! Especially the no phones and no internet part - although the biking part would be cool too :-)!

Spartana

  • Guest
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2014, 10:17:48 AM »
I know of many people who longed to quit their jobs, sell everything and uproot their lives to travel in some way and ended up hating it.

Yeah, that's what worries me about people on this forum just graduating from college or starting out in their young lives and obsessing over FIRE. I mean, let's not kid ourselves, FIRE will/is be awesome, but mostly awesome because we know what we are FIRE-ing from. If your sole obession is to FIRE to the exclusion of doing other things, you won't enjoy the journey along the way or figure out what you'd like to do.

 
I agree. That's one reason I think sabbaticals are so great. It gives you a small taste of what ER would be like (but not the same by a long shot IMHO - different outlook when you know it's permanent) without having to make such a big, long term commitment. Give you a chance to figure out what you like, or don't, about being off work. I use to get 30 days leave while in the service and I always took it all at once and went somewhere, or did something, that I thought I'd like to do on a longer term full time basis. Ended up after a month of doing them, that was enough for some things, and not long enough for other. 

rabbit

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2014, 01:21:17 PM »
I'm about to go on a 2 year sabbatical. I plan to spend more time with my children, practice frugality, and retrain in a new field. I've been saving and investing for a long time, so I'm not worried about my finances. When I return to the workforce, I will be starting over in a new profession - doing work I have a real passion for.

Trudie

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1649
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2014, 04:33:32 PM »
But Albert Brooks is so depressing. i mean really!!

So...I'm taking what I'd call an "open ended sabbatical" starting on September 1st. My eight year younger wife will continue working.
Yeah but it WAS a comedy. Probably not applicable to a sabbatical where the person retains their home, money and has a working spouse(more for those ER types who want to cash it all in and be full time RVers). And of course what happened to them - losing all their money after 4 days on the road would never happen to a mustachian RVer!

So what do you plan to do on your sabbatical?

I haven't fully thought this out yet, but would definitely have goals before I pulled the trigger.  I think it's important to have goals that feed your mind, body, and spirit.  It's the fact that these are so out of whack right now that makes me want to do it.

As for the mind part -- I think I would definitely keep my CPA license and apprentice with someone doing tax work (which isn't part of my job now with a private company.  I would also like to start work on a landscape design certificate at a community college and begin drawing plans for my small scale urban garden.

As for body -- continue my running program and take up one new activity like yoga or meditation -- something that feeds both body and spirit.

As for spirit -- nurture friendships.  Have people over for dinner.  Find a way to give back to my community and feel a little more connected.  I kind of think doing something at a public library would be fun.

Anyone of these things could become a full time job and too ambitious!

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27466
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2014, 10:10:15 AM »
The wife and I are pushing hard toward FIRE, so we wouldn't consider it as it'd delay our goals, but there are definite scenarios where a sabbatical makes lots of sense (as a trial FIRE period, if you're burnt out, etc.).  Sounds like a good choice for you!
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

Beric01

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1156
  • Age: 28
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • Law-abiding cyclist
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2014, 10:28:42 AM »
I wouldn't consider it, just because it would delay my FIRE date, upon which I can start taking a sabbatical for the rest of my life. I am considering moving overseas and taking a lower-paying job to live where I want, but I don't want to stop paving the road to FIRE.

Tyler

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1118
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2014, 12:17:32 PM »
I really like the idea of a substantial sabbatical (like a full year) as a FIRE transition period. 

It feels like a nice middle-ground that makes it clear to your employer you're not leaving them for another company, while providing a healthy timeframe to truly enjoy the moment and plan/build a new life outside of your previous career paradigm.  The fact that "sabbatical" will also make conversations with people easier and avoid the R-word is also a nice perk.  And personally, thinking of it that way also helps ease the short-term financial OCD that fuels OMY syndrome, since I can more easily rationalize that I'm not necessarily retiring from work permanently but embarking on a new well-considered transition plan.

EDIT: To clarify, I make no assumptions about whether one should return to the original employer at the end of the year.  Remaining happily unemployed or seeking new different work are also great options.  I just feel like thinking in terms of "sabbatical" rather than "retirement" is a nice measured way to approach things starting out.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 03:42:14 PM by Tyler »

JoJo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1306
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2014, 01:25:43 PM »
I have taken 2 sabbaticals - 20 months at age 31 (quit job and sold house & car and backpacked) and 12 weeks at age 40 (kept job, condo, car and was on a medium-budget trip).  Both were travel oriented but I built education goals into both trips (learned a language & took a few courses).  The 12 week trip was honestly too short.  It was a year ago I did it and am still yearning for those days.  I don't have any regrets of either sabbatical.  Even though it pushes my retirement dates, I was glad I did them when I had the health and desire to do some of the crazy things I got to experience in those months off.

Gone Fishing

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2741
  • So Close went fishing on April 1, 2016
    • Journal
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2014, 02:38:16 PM »
My company is so full of BS, they call the mandatory 5 days off a year (to catch embezzling) a SABBATICAL!  By that definition I have taken 6 sabbaticals!  Most folks I work with have NEVER taken 2 consecutive weeks off.  I do it every other year to visit long distance family.  This year I was told that I have to have EVERYTHING done before I leave on vacation. Nothing like packing and leaving a vacation a stressed out wreck.  Was that a rant?  Sorry...maybe I should post under FIRE motivation! 

Cap_Scarlet

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 292
    • EarlyRetireFree
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2014, 03:07:12 PM »
We have a plan to begin our early retirement with a 'test drive' which begins this November when we are taking an eight week break to tour Australia and New Zealand.  We're going to use that break to test drive whether we really want to completely exit work.  I think I know what the answer is but its always nice to give something new a test drive beforehand.

tamaramurray

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Sabbatical anyone?
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2014, 07:37:08 AM »
Love this thread. My husband and I are on the tail end of a one-year sabbatical in Latin America. There were lots of reasons not to go. We had a dog, a mortgage, and thriving careers. But we brought the dog with us, rented out the condo, and put the careers on hold because no one says "I'm so glad I worked so hard" on their deathbed. It took a while to get there, and eventually we realized it was because we had to tell ourselves that it was OK to live by our own definition of success, not someone else's! Then, we made a budget (http://ourleapyear.com/25mar14/) and savings goal.

I think the idea of having projects is a good one. We took Spanish classes, I wrote a book, my husband learned some new web skills. We also created a blog for friends and family so they could share the experience with us. There's so much to learn, so many places to see, lots of people to meet. If you want it, that's enough.