Sabbaticals Vs. Early Retirement

Recently I had a conversation with my boss who mentioned his daughter was going to take a gap year and do some traveling after she graduated high school. I then facetiously quipped, “Yeah, maybe I’ll take a year long sabbatical and travel the world too.” My boss, taking my words earnestly, replied, “Hey, you’re single. Now’s the time to do it. I would absolutely support you doing that.”

I was a little taken back because I had always considered sabbaticals as some sort of fantasy that a company would never support. But it seems more and more companies are supportive of them.

Then I came across this TED talk where this lady talked about going on ‘mini retirements’ which has now made me seriously consider incorporating sabbaticals in my life.

But is it worth it? Let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of sabbaticals.

Pros

1) Relief From Burnout

After slaving away for years and years (and years) with the toil and moil of your job, taking a long respite might be exactly what’s needed to cleanse the soul. No more deadlines. No more office politics. No more crippling anxiety. All that bullshit weighing on your chest will be lifted and you can finally breathe again.

2) Finding Yourself (While Making Money)

During your time off, you’ll finally have the time to kickstart passion projects that you’ve been holding off. Best of all, these might be passion projects that could be monetized in order to offset some of the money you’ll be losing. This could include starting a blog, a YouTube channel, or some other product you’ve had in mind.

Or maybe you just simply want to do some extended traveling. Getting out of your familiar living space will almost guarantee a new perspective on life that can take you down a whole new path of self-discovery.

3) Spending Time With Your Family

If you love being with your family, then time spent with them can be priceless. Whether it’s staying home to raise your kids or it’s taking care of a loved one in poor health, then taking a sabbatical will be well worth it.

Cons

1) Sabbatical… Or Furlough?

You’ve had your sabbatical. You’re now refreshed and have found enlightenment. The only problem is you have to return to work and all the problems associated with it could immediately squash that new lease on life. Suddenly that sabbatical is feeling more like a furlough from prison that you have to go back to.

2) Gone, Money, Gone

This is the obvious drawback. Yeah you’ve escaped the anxiety that your job was causing, but now it’s being replaced with seeing your net worth dwindling every day. Even if you have a passion project that is making money, chances are it won’t come close to matching what you were making at your job.

3) You Need To Save A LOT

Before embarking on your sabbatical, you’ll have to make sure you have enough pelf on the shelf to afford doing such a thing. Not to mention, your frugal habits combined with your concern about losing your net worth might stifle you in pursuing what you want to do, such as traveling, which will obviously require some spending.

4) Will Your Job Still Be There?

Maybe you don’t mind going back to work. Or even can’t wait to. But after being gone for so long, are you sure your company still needs you? You’ll need to make sure robust assurances are made from your employer that your job is safe before starting your sabbatical.

5) Guilt

Instead of reveling in your freedom, you may feel guilt for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s because you’ve left your co-workers in a lurch or you feel silly for suspending the growth of your net worth. Whatever hang ups you may have, make sure you’re mentally committed so you’re not burdened by any such guilt.

Recap

There’s obviously a lot to consider on deciding to take a sabbatical. I have a friend who spent some time in Japan for a year and said it was the best decision of his life. But as for me, I will not be taking a sabbatical any time soon. I want to keep building my net worth. Perhaps I’ll revisit the idea in a few years when I’ll get closer to forty and that mid-life crisis really starts to fester.

What do you think? Is taking a sabbatical a soul-cleansing journey worth taking or a money-sucking waste of time? Leave a comment below.


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