Gauri a software developer, playing a key role in the design, installation, testing and maintenance of software systems in high pressure situations, at times clocking over 50 hours a week. She felt stuck in a rut grappling with exhaustion and discontentment. After wondering for months if while trying to make a career did she forget to make a life for herself, she finally took a break.

Priya loved her job as a web designer, coding and modifying websites, from layout to function meeting client expectations. She became a mother last year and in absence of dependable support called it quits and became a stay at home mom.

Different circumstances leading to similar situation, a break from work aka ‘sabbatical’.

What is a sabbatical?

Traditionally, a sabbatical involves a break from work for a mutually agreed-upon time frame between employee and employer. But a sabbatical isn’t always traditional. Only a handful of companies in India actually encourage and endorse the concept of taking a break. A person may take a sabbatical on feeling burnt-out or disgruntled at work but more often than not women are coerced into taking a break as a result of familial or motherhood responsibilities.

Myths related to a sabbatical

  • once you take a break it is improbable to get a job back.
  • companies frown upon the gap seen in your resume
  • taking a sabbatical equals to missing the bus and you can never catch up
  • once you take a break you lose touch

These are some of the common misconceptions associated with taking a sabbatical often leading to a lot of women hesitating going back to work. However these statements couldn’t be any farther from reality.

What to do on a sabbatical?

One may be taking a break on account of being unmotivated or exhausted, looking for some free time or there may be some personal issue but it’s better to utilize the time constructively. It need not be too glamorous involving cruising in the Caribbean or volunteering in the jungles of Chattisgarh but make sure to dust off the cobwebs in your brain while re-energizing yourself with knowledge, skills or experiences.

Here is a list of stuff one can do even when on a break.

  • Travel tops the list of things to do during a sabbatical. Jet set around the world or explore your own city. It is a great way to experience different cultures, meet people and broaden horizons.
  • Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the society while contributing to a worthy cause. Skill-based volunteering gives a good opportunity to sharpen your skills again and be productive.
  • Reignite your hobbies and passion; find your artistic or creative side. It may even pave the way for fresh career opportunities.
  • Read those books that you’ve always wanted to read. Going through relevant books, publications, and blog articles is a great way to build foundation for the next step in career.
  • Build up on your skill sets. There are innumerable free and paid resources available online to learn a lot of things. From new programming language, designing software to social media marketing and creative writing; it’s all available out there. Get new certification or even acquire career-changing new skills.
  • One doesn’t need to step out of the house to connect with people anymore. These connections become a window into the world and help you feel more up-to-date and not isolated.
  • Relax and decompress. After all how many people get the option to take a break.

Benefits of taking a sabbatical

A break not only gives a chance to readjust, refocus, and get refreshed for the next stage but may also prove beneficial to the companies. Creative and novel thinking, additional skill-sets and new experiences can be translated to professional gains for both employer and employee.

A sabbatical need not be a career deterrent rather it can help one become more self assured, confident and cognizant of life course. It is a fantastic time to relook at your career aspirations, current skills, and new developments in the world. Some people take a sabbatical to explore other interests while some go on forced breaks but utilize this time to have experiences that enhance your existing skills, help you master new ones, and offer something unique to future employers.

About the author: 

Dr Samta Mittal – Dentist by education, writer by passion. In my earlier avatar I taught budding dentists and published a book on my subject expertise. A ‘sabbatical’ from work reignited my dormant love for writing. Sometimes I do freelance writing for health/travel portals as well as blog for pleasure on social, cultural issues & other simple little things of life.

(The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)

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