Author Topic: Self-funded sabbatical, stay the course or change jobs?  (Read 3420 times)


  • Bristles
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Self-funded sabbatical, stay the course or change jobs?
« on: August 22, 2015, 10:09:27 PM »
About a year ago, I got a different job. I had really liked my previous one but the funding for it ended and it was a clown car commute (40mi each way, ~1hr most days but up to 2.5 with snow or other fun weather phenomena). So this one is related but the daily tasks are different and not nearly as interesting. My needing to "modify" my personality a bit was mentioned in my 6mo review...basically be more "reflective" and less charge-forward on changes that could improve things. I suppose this is normal for many corporate places though my work isn't corporate and all my previous work focused on finding solutions to problems and improving the system as quickly as possible. This whole misfit with the job was reiterated with a series of personality seminars we did last week so it's not like I'm thinking it's me being a whinypants. I just do better in an independent, problem-solving position rather than a job that requires checking details and some customer service type work.

As for our situation, we are close-but-not-there-yet on FIRE. I'd guess at current levels we're looking at 3-5 years for the level of FIRE funds I'd be comfortable thinking we really were there.

I am trying to think through the advantages and disadvantages of doing the following:
-take a self-funded sabbatical soon, then find another job. This may delay FIRE for a couple more years (or insert a year of R before the full FIRE)
-change jobs. Looking for the type of job I would like better may be easier in some ways if I'm already working where I am currently (thinking of the same institution but different department). However, it could be politically a bit of a minefield because it would be very likely to get back to my coworkers and supervisors. I'm not sure whether to discuss this potential or not.
-stay the course. It's kind of tough to pretend to be enthusiastic when I'm secretly fairly frigging bored a lot. And it's irritating to know I could be making a better contribution in a different position, and a different person in my job may do better and enjoy it more. But it's at least an OK job and I can do a good enough job at it not to worry about being fired or something.

Right now I'm feeling sort of stuck and uncertain. I have an annual review in early Sept so I'm wondering how much to bring up any of this. Any advice?


  • Bristles
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Re: Self-funded sabbatical, stay the course or change jobs?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2015, 01:52:40 AM »
Here's my 2 cents. I would not recommend taking a self-funded sabbatical. You only need to work a couple of years until FIRE, and you're less employable with a 1 year gap in your resume. The one exception to this is when you would use the sabbatical to do something which makes you more employable. But why would you do that if you're only going to work for 3-5 more years?

I would recommend looking for another job. A couple of questions here: why are you stuck with this one institution? Can you not apply outside your own company? And how do you know that an internal application will find it's way to where you work now? In my ministry it's quite common to switch jobs internally, and both HR and hiring managers are usually careful to not let on they're interviewing you, because nobody wants you to suffer any consequences at your current place of work. Besides, your boss has already told you he doesn't think you're a good fit - it's in his interest that you find a better match elsewhere, you're currently in a lose-lose scenario. Which brings me to this: why not be open about your wishes and ask your boss to help you find a job that suits you better? Your wish to remain at the same company shows you're a loyal employee, that's usually an asset worth keeping, isn't it? What can you lose by being open in your annual review about wanting to change jobs internally? I would think the worst case scenario is your boss is disappointed and unwilling to help, and starts fobbing you off with busywork because he thinks you're a lost cause to his department. In which case you can STILL look for another job. The best case scenario is that he/she thinks it's a good idea and agrees to help you.

I would not recommend staying in this job. I am a lot like you personality-wise, and have been stuck with work I was ill-suited for before. Believe me when I say trying to change is useless, and nothing is worth dreading Mondays and hating your job for 3-5 years. If you're like me, your personality type would also make you impatient, action oriented and eager to change your own situation, and just sitting this one out would be a very hard thing for you to do that will make you very unhappy.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Self-funded sabbatical, stay the course or change jobs?
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2015, 02:23:06 AM »
I would say yes a 3-12 month sabbatical.  I had two paid sabbatical and one year unpaid leave of absence before finally pulling the plug.  The first sabbatical rejuvenated me, the second one convinced me that I wouldn't be bored in retirement and the my leave of absence was primarily for financial reason but also a finally check point before I took the plunge.

I think 3-5 years out is perfect timing, and one of the benefits of FIRE is having the freedom to not work in jobs you don't want to. The time value of money for something 3 to 5 years away isn't huge. Lets say you spend 30K for your say 9 month sabbatical plus another 10K that you would have save if you kept working. In 3-5 years that's probably another 50-60K in savings. If it adds another 2 years to your FIRE date well you've already enjoyed 9 month of a retirement.

There are two aspect to the retirement the financial and the psychological. The financial we have 4% rules and financial calculators and blog posts.  The psychological aspect is a lot more guessing. 
You may decide that I am not super excited to retire. In which case find a job you really like to do for the next say 7 years is really important. On the other hand you made decide I loved not working, in which case you'll spend your final few years working saving as much as possible and really focus on the money in order to make retirement come as soon as possible.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Self-funded sabbatical, stay the course or change jobs?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2015, 10:06:34 AM »
-stay the course. It's kind of tough to pretend to be enthusiastic when I'm secretly fairly frigging bored a lot.
This has been my situation for a bit more than 6 months now (see ).
Every day at the office is worse than the previous one. I don't recommend this option unless you're a bit crazy. Not for a long period of time, at least.


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: Self-funded sabbatical, stay the course or change jobs?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2015, 10:29:03 AM »
I think Spartana will have some interesting insight...IIRC, she took a sabbatical and never went back.

I'm FIRE now, but hated intensely disliked certain aspects of my job before I finally pulled the trigger. Here are some coping things I did. First, I set a crazy high savings goal for one year (you can select any length of time for yourself). I literally spent aslittleaspossible in every single category. No new or used anything, unless it was absolutely essential. Ate down the pantry, used u my supplies, grew my hair long, brown bagged every meal, etc. When it got tight and I was going stir crazy, I spent unused gift cards and traveled via miles to places I could stay free. Watching the savings grow really helped me cope. At the 90-days-to-go mark, I made a colorful paper chain and festooned it around my office. I knew what it represented, but no one else did. At the end of every day, I removed a link. I loved Mondays, cause I got to remove three links, woot!

Obviously, my vote is to set a time limit for yourself, save your brains out, and then pull the rip cord for a fast and long-lasting, perhaps even permanent, exit. And don't stress to much about trying to mold yourself to the job. Don't worry about changing it or making it fulfilling either, 'cause you're not going to be there long. Make it work for you, not the other way around. Good luck!


  • Bristles
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Re: Self-funded sabbatical, stay the course or change jobs?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2015, 09:12:01 PM »
Thanks for the replies and advice! I should clarify a little. My skill set is particularly well-suited to this institution, and this is the largest employer in the region (the region being not-a-clown-car-commute, maybe 250K population). It might be possible to find something outside of that so that's certainly something I could also do, but especially with the work I've done in the past year it would be potentially quite valuable for a different group in the same institution.

As for my supervisor, well, the structure is a little weird. I have a director of our dept, a sub-director and then a senior coworker and I'm not entirely clear the structure. The director is the hire-and-fire person, but she's not around a lot. I think it might be strange to go straight to her, vs the sub-director and superior co-worker, who will do a joint annual review at the end of this month. I am not sure what bearing this meeting will even have, since the raise/no raise eval was like 6mo ago. I got "meets expectations" which was fine for the raise but previously I'd gotten either "exceeds expectations" or (once, when I was about out the door and had really checked out and wasn't too mature) a "do better" eval. At issue is that the director/sub probably don't want to add hiring an unknown to their time-burden, when their employee is doing a decent job. The culture is a "support each other" sort of thing, and I do think they mean that, but there are certain necessities that come with the job that can't really be gotten around.  The thing that's tripping me up is that it's not a terrible fit, just a "meh" fit. And I'm not too interested in the path of advancement. So hmmm.

Per the sabbatical, yeah I think maybe it'd be good to wait. I was sort of thinking what about getting a few "fun" jobs just to learn new and different things? I do like to learn new stuff, and that is something I have thought of doing. But that's something I could do after FIRE, especially after taking a total break like Llamo has!

Anyway, I will kind of see how this meeting goes. Some folks I've talked to IRL were on the side of "keep your cards close" but they are not going to fire me for saying I might be better off elsewhere. I suppose the idea that things will likely be better (either help looking or maybe some changes in how the work goes) may happen. And if not, I've definitely dealt with far worse work situations.