10 good reasons to take advantage of a sabbatical year to change your professional life.
Imagine… You wake up in the middle of the night and a question is swirling around in your head.
“What if I took a sabbatical year to change my life? »
Guest article, written by Alexandre Willocquet from the blog 11 Months to change your life.
At first glance, funny question, right?
In fact, for some time, you have been considering changing your life. And, let’s face it… to change jobs .
Something to dream about, yes. But you do not see clearly how a gap year could help you in this project.
Certainly, a priori, you would have nothing against “a little” good time… but that’s not what will bring you closer to your ultimate goal, is it?
Well think again!
A gap year can be the ultimate weapon when you want to change your life.
I speak from knowledge, because I just finished one a few weeks ago. And I propose to explain to you the many advantages.
And also, in all honesty, the possible disadvantages…and the strategies to circumvent them.
The benefits of a sabbatical to change your life
Let’s start by clarifying one point: it is the fact of taking a break of several months that will increase your strength tenfold…hence the sabbatical year (by abuse of language).
But as the sabbatical is the main solution used (by private sector employees) to achieve this break, I will use the two expressions interchangeably in this article.
And I could just as easily have spoken of layoff (for civil servants) or unpaid leave.
Once again, what counts is taking a step back from your current professional activity.
Now, perhaps the sabbatical is inseparable for you from a trip to exotic destinations?
As I understand you… it turns out that this is indeed the first use that the French plan to make of it.
So we’ll talk about that, of course. But also of a completely different use that it is possible to make of this leave. Let’s go for a cure of optimism!
How to change your life with a World Tour?
So let’s imagine that by dint of seeing photos on Facebook of several of your friends who have gone to the other side of the world, you wanted to do the same.
How on earth could an extended vacation help change your life??? I recognize that posed like this, the problem seems insoluble. And yet…
There are at least two unsuspected advantages that will be very useful to you later!
1 – The development of transversal skills
Do you know “soft skills”? These are the famous “behavioral skills”.
Those that now appear in the standard profiles of many job searches. And which are very popular with recruiters.
We will see that a world tour is likely to develop some of them.
But also more technical skills , but just as transversal and therefore useful for changing professional life.
2 – Self-knowledge
Going to the end of the world to get to know each other better ? It can sound “cliché”, and yet it couldn’t be more serious!
Confronted with new cultures and more generally with novelty , you will inevitably discover unknown aspects of your personality .
This will be all the more true if you go alone, because you will have more time for introspection. Even if this does not mean that you should seek to remain isolated, on the contrary!
3 – The ability to meet people
Whether you go alone or accompanied, it would be a shame not to take advantage of your trip to get to know “locals”. Even with other tourists met on the spot.
Perhaps this will require you to come out of your shell? It’s excellent ! Because you can later use it to highlight your ability to communicate and function in a group .
4 – The taste for challenge
Certainly, you will impress your interlocutors more if you left with a backpack and a one-way ticket. Without pre-booked accommodation and in a country whose language you do not speak. 😉
But each circumnavigation of the globe will inevitably come with its share of surprises and last-minute changes.
More difficult to manage in the field than comfortably seated on your sofa with your tablet!
5 – Mastering a foreign language
Here is a technical skill, but transversal, that you can greatly improve during a sabbatical at the end of the world.
Provided of course that you do not travel only to French-speaking countries! It’s a safe bet that this is an opportunity to stretch your English .
But if you are already comfortable in the language of Shakespeare, why not take the opportunity to add a new string to your bow?
Spanish or Portuguese are examples of foreign languages that combine business with pleasure.
Because these are languages that are not only popular from a business point of view , but also allow you to travel to very nice destinations!
6 – A catalyst for change
There is another benefit of leaving for a long time for exotic destinations: you will not come back the same !
All those who have tried the experience will tell you: by coming into contact with new cultures, new ways of life, you will change. And embrace change.
He speaks of “beneficial damage”. Because when he returned to France at the end of this year, he realized that he could no longer “pretend”.
That the freedom and autonomy he had tasted for 10 months could not be without a future .
And that it was not compatible with his current job.
I am convinced that the effects and consequences will be specific to each person. And that this will only bring to light tensions of which you were already aware. Even if you have so far refused to dwell on it.
It is therefore not a question of forcing you to change against your will. But to help you save precious time to identify what does not satisfy you in your life. So that you can change it when you get home.
7 – A studious sabbatical year to test yourself
Now imagine that traveling around the world is not for you. Not especially your fad. Not the budget for. And above all, don’t want to take your children out of school…
The reasons can be many and perfectly legitimate.
At this point, you may be thinking that this is all well and good, but that a sabbatical won’t do you any good. You would be wrong!
Because taking a sabbatical year can be used to carry out many other projects . And when you want to change your life, it ‘s a great playground .
8 – Create the ideal framework for reflection
Changing jobs (a fortiori radically changing your life) is not the kind of project you improvise .
You have to identify what you can and want to do, often train yourself. Establish hypotheses (business plan) if you want to embark on entrepreneurship…
All of this takes time and focus .
Do you have it easily in your current life? Not me.
In the best of cases, it was during vacations of several weeks that I managed to align two ideas to clarify my personal project…
And as I took advantage of these holidays to spend time with my family, it was not easy to isolate myself enough to devote myself to it.
When I decided to take a sabbatical and spend it at home, I suddenly benefited from :
a/ of time (I opted for 11 months, the maximum duration)
b/ isolation (I was on leave, but my wife was working and my children were going to school)
c/ peace of mind (knowing that you won’t be going back to the office for several months at best, it instantly frees you from the weight of responsibilities)
I do not remember having benefited from such a favorable environment to push a reflection!
Not to mention that it also left me enough time to lead a balanced life . Take care of myself and enjoy my friends and family more.
9 – Develop your network
Yes, I just explained to you how good it was to be able to isolate yourself. And here I am talking to you about surrounding yourself… A time for everything!
And a gap year gives you just enough time to pursue several goals.
This is finally the opportunity to get down to expanding your network .
Better master a professional social network like LinkedIn, for example.
Develop your network step by step. Until you enter the network of influential people in the professional fields that interest you!
And also, why not, to get to know the speaker during the break?
It is impossible today to underestimate the importance of a good professional network . A fortiori when you want to change jobs, at the risk of losing all your bearings.
10 – Do practical tests
If you are considering changing careers, a sabbatical is a golden opportunity to train yourself !
By reading the books of the best authors , why not? This is the most economical way, but it requires a lot of autonomy and discipline.
Or by registering for an online training if your finances (or your CPF) allow it.
Or even better, a support program including individual coaching sessions !
Using your free time to learn useful things for your professional retraining is a clever use of a sabbatical year!
This will allow you to see more concretely what your new job would consist of . In order to make a more informed decision at the end of the leave. But it is possible to do even better!
Indeed, did you know that it is possible to work elsewhere during a sabbatical ? Yes, yes, you can conclude a CDD, and even a CDI with a new employer!
As long as you do not breach your obligation of discretion and loyalty and any non-competition clause in your first employment contract.
You can therefore, in a way, carry out a long trial period of several months , in real conditions.
What a pity that you can’t necessarily do the same when choosing your studies…
And my Bonus – Gaining motivation!
Does all this sound too good to you?
You may be thinking that if 100% of the winners have tried their luck, there must also be a few losers?
Well…yes and no! 😉
Of course, some will not complete their project during their sabbatical year. Lack of will, or the conclusion quickly reached that it is ultimately not for them.
Are they still losers? Not at all if you want my opinion!
And you what do you think ? Is it better to face a harsh reality after resigning hastily?
Or come to this conclusion in the comfort of a gap year ?
Which allows you to quietly resume your previous position.
Not only will the consequences be very different, but you may well find renewed motivation for your work!
Many of us fantasize about a better life… in every way. But the grass is not necessarily greener elsewhere.
Experiencing it for a few months can help put our judgment into perspective. And to relearn to appreciate what we already have.
How can a sabbatical affect your life change?
I promised you to be honest. It is therefore time to mention the disadvantages that a sabbatical year can have for those who want to change their lives!
At this point, you may be convinced that this is what you need. And now I want to spoil your fun…
Don’t worry, you’ll see that some of these drawbacks go away on their own. And that others can easily be met by a prepared mind. This is the whole subject of what follows!
Misconceptions against the sabbatical year
1 – The famous “hole in the CV”
A sabbatical leave would mess up your professional career and risk closing the doors of many employers…
I am not just talking to you about the benevolence with which Human Resources would consider taking care of oneself in the era of Quality of Life at Work.
Even from a purely self-interested point of view, the people who interview you will be more sensitive to the advantages seen previously than inclined to question your dynamism and your motivation.
And if not, maybe you should ask yourself what attracts you to this employer! 😉
2 – Falling behind
Another received idea, we would lose a year . This is a very frequent argument for a gap year, which postpones the end of studies all the more.
But if this point is indisputable, it must be opposed that the students who took a break :
a/ are often much more sure of their orientation , which avoids changing paths after 2-3 years
b/ are much more motivated and generally achieve better results than their peers. Which increases their chances of graduating on the first try
We can draw a parallel with a sabbatical in the private sector.
As you have seen previously, you will have every chance of seeing much more clearly about what you really want in life, whether it is:
c/ become self-employed
d/ change jobs
e/ change employer
f/ return to your previous position convinced that it is what suits you
How could clarity and certainty on such a crucial issue be considered a waste of time?
3 – Difficulty returning to work
Argument already a little more serious, it could be difficult to return to work (or studies) if you have taken a very long break. It is obviously more associated with a “World Tour” scenario.
It is true that as I said earlier, you pick up very quickly when you know that you won’t be back in your position for several months. This psychological cut does a world of good.
But the backlash can be harsh (you surely know this if you’ve ever had the chance to take 4 or 5 weeks of vacation in a row). All of this is correct. But you will overcome it .
All the more quickly if you have taken advantage of your leave to refine your change of life.
And that you bounce in a direction that you have chosen and that you want.
It’s certain that if you’ve only had a good time… and it’s the first day of the school year that you realize that your position no longer suits you, that’s nerd!
But now that you have read this article, you will not make this mistake. Is not it ? 🙂
In the same vein, we hear that it is sometimes difficult to return to France. If that means you’re convinced your new life is overseas, where’s the problem?
4 – Lack of sense of urgency
We continue crescendo with arguments that take on substance. Having the “safety net” of a sabbatical could harm the personal investment in your project …
This is in theory a real risk. Which will be all the stronger as you are prone to procrastination . Don’t worry, we all are, at least a little!
But the most procrastinating among us could indeed feel “overprotected” by the certainty of being able to resume their job. To the point of not being serious enough about their project .
And to have no other option at the end of their sabbatical year.
The parade ? Set intermediate goals and not compromise on them.
To cultivate this famous “sense of urgency” and to be obliged to move the buttocks.
If that’s not enough, consider harnessing the power of “public engagement” : tell other people about your goals, commit to accountability… even beg them to hold you accountable!
For my part, I really do not feel that I have encountered this inconvenience. I’m no more procrastinator than average.
But I took the precaution of defining a “tight” agenda from the start of my sabbatical. And keep it as often as possible.
5 – Financial leeway
It is a fact, a sabbatical year has a cost . Much more important for the “Around the World” option than for the “studious” option, by the way.
But if you don’t have extra income or enough savings, you may have trouble funding your gap year .
This could be problematic when considering expensive vocational training , for example.
Having the time, but not the means to prepare your project, it would still be a shame…
Fortunately, there are several solutions to manage the budget of a gap year. I feature them on my blog.
One of them offers the advantage, in this case, of combining business with pleasure.
Indeed, if you choose to work during your sabbatical , you will continue to earn income while learning a new job.
Otherwise, it is certain that it may be preferable to opt for another option than the sabbatical year: the side project . That you will carry out in parallel with your job, in the evening, on weekends and during the holidays.
It requires a lot of will and the capacity (physical and moral) to link the two activities.
And so it is from my point of view a more risky and longer path than the sabbatical year. But it’s definitely better than nothing!
Advantages and disadvantages of a sabbatical year: what to remember?
You want to change jobs , but your project is not more specific than that . And you have a hard time finding the time to move it forward, which frustrates you…
In this article, I explained to you that a sabbatical could be a golden opportunity to bring you closer to your dream of changing your life.
Whether it’s a world tour or a studious sabbatical year, devoted to training, you can for example:
- 1 – develop transversal skills that will make you shine in the eyes of recruiters
- – take a liking to change
- – think calmly about what motivates you the most
- – test yourself outright in a new job
We have also seen that there are disadvantages . The 2 most serious being the absence of remuneration and the lack of a “sense of urgency” .
After 20 years of management in the industry, I myself took an 11 month sabbatical.
Which I quickly decided to use to create the opportunity to take control of my life.
After training in blogging, I decided to try my luck as an infopreneur . It was one of the best decisions of my life .
And you, what is holding you back from taking a sabbatical year?
Can you imagine other benefits it could bring to help you change your life?
Share them with us in the comments at the bottom of this page!
Guest article, written by Alexandre Willocquet from the blog 11 Months to change your life.
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