Sabbaticals and the Pursuit of Happiness
Monday, January 4th, 2010

[singlepic=1633,200,,,right]Career breaks and sabbaticals are a great opportunity to quiet your mind and help you connect with what it is that will make you truly happy. Clive Prout uses the insights he gained from his own sabbatical to help others find their path to happiness. He shares with us what led him on the path to becoming The Sabbatical Coach and how you could benefit from using one.

One of the things that drew me to immigrate to the USA is a phrase in the Declaration of Independence.

I grew up in England, which holds its citizens as “subjects” of the monarch, with no written constitution to guarantee their rights. The idea that the purpose of government was to secure for its citizens “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” was revolutionary. It seemed a wonderful basis on which to create a country and a new life for myself.

I moved to Menlo Park in the heart of Silicon Valley in the mid 1990s. The computer industry was in full bloom and the Internet was starting to explode. Netscape’s offices opened a couple of blocks from where I worked in Mountain View. Central to my choice to be here was the unquestioned assumption that the pursuit of happiness lay through the pursuit of wealth. I would become rich and happy – or so I thought.


Circumstances: Recognizing the Signs You Need a Career Change
Monday, November 2nd, 2009

How do you know that you may be ready for a career break? Pamela Skillings, a successful entrepreneur, certified career coach, and the author of Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams, describes the signs that it may be your time.

1. What gets people down about working in Corporate America?
Most of us have similar gripes about bad corporate jobs—including long hours, unfair treatment, political B.S., bureaucracy, and lack of flexibility. If you feel burned out because of heavy workloads and unrelenting demands, if you’re sick of feeling like a cog in a machine and yearn to do work that is more meaningful, you’re not alone.

In today’s economic environment, corporate employees are more stressed out than ever before. Many have been overburdened with the work of their laid-off colleagues and are living in fear of the next round of cutbacks.

In other cases, people are simply in the wrong jobs—their careers kind of just happened to them like mine did for so long. And then there are those who basically like their corporate jobs, but feel like something is missing. They have some dream that they have been denying because they’re afraid it’s not realistic or they don’t know where to start.


Circumstances: Negotiating a Sabbatical
Monday, September 7th, 2009

If you are in a position where you like your job and the company that you work for, but feeling burnt out, a sabbatical may be for you!

We recently profiled a couple, Ben & Alonna, who started on their year of travel in August of 2009. Both worked for HP and while Ben decided to leave his job, Alonna was able to negotiate a year leave of absence.

If you are thinking this may be the way for you, follow some of Alonna’s tips on how she successfully negotiate for the time off.

[singlepic=1521,200,,,right]Before approaching my employer about the break, I spent a lot of time researching, getting advice, and preparing a proposal.
My research included online searches for other people doing similar things, and looking up the policies at my company for unpaid leaves. Finding the policy at my company was straight-forward; they allow up to a one-year unpaid leave for personal reasons to be approved by management and HR.

Searching online turned up a few good articles and websites, but I think Briefcase to Backpack is a great addition and fills in a lot of gaps. Just hearing about people in similar situations helps a lot when you’re starting out.

Next I sought advice from multiple people in my company who I trusted. I asked what they thought of the idea and how I should present it. They had great advice and gave me confidence in my plans.

Finally, I prepared a proposal document which described:

  • What I want (1-year unpaid leave of absence)
  • Why I deserve it (included a list of accomplishments at the company thus far)
  • What I would gain (new skills, renewed motivation, personal growth)
  • How my work would be covered (a list of items and people who could help out)

When I presented this to my manager he was supportive right away and worked with me to get it officially approved. I think the fact that I was a high-performer and presented a well thought-out plan helped a lot.


Dominique Doron – Finding a Way to Make it Happen
Monday, June 8th, 2009

Dominique Doron took a 2-month career break in the beginning of 2009. She shares with us how she came to make this life-changing decision, the anxieties she faced in doing so, and how she ended up spending it volunteering in Ghana.

[singlepic=1473,200,,,right]MAKING THE DECISION
From Alternative Spring Breaks in college, to working for a non-profit in NYC, I have always tried to find time to volunteer. Traveling has also been a hobby of mine, although while working full-time, travel usually means a week of vacation here or there – not the culturally fulfilling experience I long for.

While working at Marie Claire as an events coordinator, I met some filmmakers who gave up their jobs and devoted their lives to making a difference in the lives of young Cambodian women. I was so moved by their bravery and dedication, yet felt a sadness come over me because I didn’t foresee an opportunity in my life to make a similar impact in the world.

I was married, needed to work full-time, and didn’t have any money to travel, but I quickly decided that if travel and volunteerism was important to me, that I would find a way to make it happen. Within a week, I decided I would quit my job to spend a few months volunteering in Africa. I wasn’t sure what I would do, where I would go, or how I would afford it, but I had a plan and started doing some research.


Circumstances: Meet Sherry…That Was Then
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Contemplating a career break and think you’re alone in how you feel? Read how Sherry Ott came to the decision to leave her life behind and travel. This post was originally written at the beginning of her 16-month career break.

[singlepic=1437,200,,,right]Someone once called me a tumbleweed – I only stay somewhere about three years and then I must tumble to the next place. Yet this time, I’m tumbling to the next adventure – the globe. This propensity to tumble around is strange considering I grew up in the midwest (Peoria, IL) in the same house for the first 18 years of my life. Then something happened…I got out…and never looked back. I slowly moved to bigger and bigger cities. First the midwest (Omaha, Minneapolis), then the west coast (San Francisco), then the big, big city – NYC. I’ve been in NYC three years now and I’m itchin’ to tumble again!


Angie Kalousek Takes a “Leap of Faith”
Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

[singlepic=1408,175,,,right]In the summer of 2007, Angie Kalousek experienced a two-month career break in Europe. She share’s with us her original thoughts on what made her decide to take this “Leap of Faith”.

Well, I did it. The job that I once loved became the job that I no longer love…and it was time for a change. So I took a leap of faith. I have chosen to forgo the reliable paycheck in hopes of discovering something more…something meaningful, joyful and fulfilling.

We all give so much of ourselves to our employers, and I wonder if we’re slowly giving away valuable minutes in our lives. Sure, we all need to work. We need to support ourselves, and we need to feel like we’re contributing to this world and enhancing our lives. But work should always bring us satisfaction and be a tool for growth. If it is, and you’re happy, you’re on the right track. But if not, it might be time to reevaluate…which is what I am doing.


Circumstances: Laid Off?
Friday, February 20th, 2009

Don’t let it be life defeating – Make it life defining!

[singlepic=1360,300,,,right]With headlines reading “U.S. Initial Unemployment Claims Jump to 26-Year High” and “Job-loss Data Are the Worst Since the 1930’s” it’s no secret that the country is in an economic crisis. Have you found yourself to be included in these headlines?

Well don’t sit around and be just another statistic – take charge of your immediate future. With the job market heading in a downward spiral, you could spend months searching for a new job. Rather than waiting for things to turnaround, this is a great opportunity to do something different with your life – why not use the time to take a cultural career break?

You may find that it is actually cheaper to travel than it is to maintain your current lifestyle, especially destinations like SE Asia. At the same time, you could be gaining some amazing insight into other cultures and yourself.

And when the economy does turn around, you’ll have some great interview material and a leg up on the competition. (See Next Steps: Getting Back to ‘Reality’ and Resumes)

What you do during your break is up to you, but our site is here to offer you the guidance and inspiration to figuring that out – every step of the journey.

We’d love to hear from you:

Have you recently been laid off and plan to travel? Tell us about your plans. Share your career break plans here

Circumstances: Burnt Out or Bummed Out?
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

[singlepic=1219,250,,,right]Congratulations for taking the first step in planning a career break or sabbatical – recognizing that you possibly want to take one! It’s not an easy decision to make, especially if you are surrounded by people who question your choice. But we are here to let you know you’re not alone.

So what brought you to this point? Feel stuck in your career? Need a new direction but not sure where to go? Not being challenged? All of the above?


Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go