Negotiating Your Sabbatical

I always blamed it on my mid life crisis. It it easier that way to explain our decision, then to indulge into lengthy dissertations about life goals, fulfillment, passion and similar nonsense. For years, the word Sabbatical had only academic or ministerial associations. More recently though, mid career breaks are becoming more and more popular in various business environments. For me, a Sabbatical brought immediately an image of white sand, beaches and miniature umbrellas in exotic drinks.

The decision to quit our life and pursue adventures on a lengthy road trip came unexpected.

On one Valentine’s Day night, after putting the kids down, we opened a bottle of red to celebrate the occasion. Sitting by a gas fire place in our living room, we were pretending it was a camp fire and we were on an adventure trip. As a couple, we had traveled before we had kids and serious careers. These weren’t glamorous journeys, rather plain and tiring escapades, but we knew we missed the excitement of a Big Trip. Plus, we were slowly burning out in our perfect, boring American Dream. Before the bottle fell empty on the floor, we knew we needed to change something in our life:

We decided to take a Sabbatical from it all!

Little did we know at that time, that dreams really do come true. Turns out, on that Valentine’s Day we took the most difficult decision in our life. Just a few months later, camp fires, tents and mosquitoes became our reality. We quit or normal life – the day jobs, the school, the mortgage – and set of for an epic adventure.

But between taking a decision and actually taking the plunge, there is an awful lot to do. And even putting aside most of the mundane aspects of planning a family road trip, the fundamental question remains:

How to finance a Sabbatical?

When you plan your trip, you tend to idealize. The reality is that whatever you planned to spend during your Sabbatical will double and your Sabbatical will cut in half. Either plan accordingly, or keep your day job. With today’s technology, it’s not uncommon for many employers to let their people work from home, or any other remote location.

You can travel the World, keep your paycheck and all the benefits!

Prepare for a discussion with your boss. A Sabbatical is easy to negotiate if you have a solid strategy. There isn’t many resources on the subject, but now that I have a bit more time, I found a simple and inexpensive toolkit that  gives the practical advice I was looking for. It’s simple to follow and its step-by-step instructions will guide you through the process of negotiating your Sabbatical.

The Ultimate Toolkit for Writing and Presenting a Killer Sabbatical Proposal Your Boss Can’t RefuseIn words of Jeff Jung, the founder of Career Break Secrets:

“I think [this toolkit] is a good deal and here’s why. Compare the price to the cost of going to an executive coach, which will run you hundreds of dollars. Talking to your company about agreeing to time off can be stress-inducing. You want to be prepared and have thought through the pros, the cons and all the possible reactions such a discussion might trigger. This is an important conversation and you want to be prepared. I’ve read through the book in detail and I think there’s a lot of good advice and insight that you can apply to your circumstance…it’s a comprehensive tool that will take you through all phases of getting time off from work.”


Strategies for Influencing Behavior and Winning CooperationAn other book that will help ease the anxiety of negotiating your sabbatical is called No Doesn’t Always Mean No. This is a book about negotiating in general, not specific to getting a Sabbatical granted by your boss.

It’s author describes the book in the following words:

At its core, persuasion is about the nuances of human psychology. It’s an appreciation of the common biases and cognitive processes present in the human psyche. The same psyche that determines our everyday choices—-choices that can make (or break) your business or organization.

Finally, I have also found a few books on Amazon that I hope can help in your quest. They’re not always very specific on the subject of Negotiating Your Sabbatical, as there isn’t really many good resources, but I think it’s good material nonetheless.
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