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When To Go On A Sabbatical?

Updated: Jul 13, 2023



"Kya kaam ka wo Aaj jis mein tera kal nahi, Kya kaam ka wo Kaam jisme tu safal nahi."

(Of what worth is your present if it doesn't lead you to the future you desire; Of what worth is that job where you are not doing well.)


I don't have any advice to share on this topic as I have only one data point to consider.


However, I can talk in detail about my reasons to go on a sabbatical.


At Unilever I had anchored myself to a very specific goal - to become a General Manager.

So strong was my devotion to the goal and getting their fast that I based my career choices on how soon the choice could get me closer to my goal. (And while doing that I convinced myself that I loved my job - which I did not.)


As they say what gets measured gets done, I did reach my goal in good time. But once there and with no further mountains to climb, I felt completely devoid of any motivation to work. I had not planned for a life beyond my goal.


After having been in the same company and similar roles for 8 years, I had very limited world view to even think of what my next challenge could be.


Since I could not see a future for myself in Unilever, I decided to step out and give myself a chance to see an alternate world and build an alternate future than what Unilever and companies like Unilever could offer me.


So in October 2018, I took the decision to go on a sabbatical.


Ever since I have started writing this series, I have spoken to many friends and colleagues who have decided to take a career break and the most common reasons are,

  1. Finding it hard to give time to things that matter e.g. a deeply cherished hobby.

  2. Taking care of a family member (kid, ageing parents).

  3. Burn out.

  4. Need for an energizer in life.

  5. Personal growth and need to try something different.


This obviously is not an exhaustive list.


If you are looking for more related experiences, you can head to The Sabbatical Project - one of the best resources on sabbaticals and sabbatical planning.


And if you are in a phase in life which sounds similar to where I was back in 2018, I would love to hear how you are planning to move ahead.


PS: I am big fan of Hindi movies not just because I relate to many slice of life situations, but too often I have gone back to some song's lyrics or a dialogue to justify my life choices.

'Sher Aaya' from Gully Boy was released a month after I started my sabbatical and I thank God for the timing!

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