Updated: Jan 21
A few weeks back it was Dhoni and now Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Once considered rare and unthinkable, sabbaticals are now becoming more popular across the world. But what do people usually do on a sabbatical?
We got talking to people who have taken sabbaticals to understand how they spent their time.
1. Spend time with family
Especially relevant for those who live away from home. Use this as a chance to spend an extended period of time reconnecting with family.
"I took a sabbatical for 4 months when I was between jobs. It was a conscious decision and I had taken it while undergoing a huge career change. It was difficult to make ends meet, pay my bills and enjoy my usual lifestyle. I packed my bags and decided to go home and spend this time with my family. We are 4 of us and in the last 5 years we had had very very less time together under one roof. In fact this was the first time our family was back together after my brother and I had left for studies at the age of 18 each. It took us a lot of time to understand each other again and adjust to each other's habits which we were rediscovering. There were disagreements, differences in major philosophies and opinions which we thought had kept the family together. We fought, talked, made-up and learned to love each other again during these 4 months. Our relationships evolved and we became whole again as a family. Our parents understood how we were now and we understood how they want to be. After this period, we did well in our personal as well as professional lives and we learned to give each other the comfort and space each required. I would love to take my next sabbatical to now travel with my family of 4 (mum, dad, brother and myself) and enjoy this new chemistry we have managed to create among ourselves”, says Sanchayan
2. Explore a start up
A vegan cafe? A nursery for exotic plants? A networking platform for artists?
If you have toyed with an idea for a long time but don’t want to leave your full-time job yet, a sabbatical is a great way to take time to fully commit to it. Having the safety net of the option to get back to your job takes away the fear of failure.
3. Develop a side hustle
Is there a new skill you want to learn? Or one you want to get better at? Invest your time to develop it as a side hustle.
"I work in branding and advertising. My work keeps me really busy so I never really find the time to pursue my other interests. I took some time off a couple of months back to learn DJing. I have started working again and have also been getting gigs to be a DJ. It’s been quite exciting!”, says Tsurbhi
4. Work on your mental health
You shouldn’t have to wait for a burnout to focus on your mental health. Today every one in two employees in India suffers from work-related stress. It’s important to take time off every once in a while to solely focus on your overall well being. Introspect on what is hampering your well-being, what you can do to start feeling better and what long-term steps you can take.
“I took a year off just to calm myself down, worked on my mental health and physical health. Was hard managing bills and running on savings but saved me some sanity.”, says Rustom
5. Test the waters before making a career switch
If you want to make a drastic career switch but want to explore if you’re making the right choice, using your sabbatical to explore the latter before taking a leap can be incredibly helpful.
“I was a senior journalist when I did a report on mother and child healthcare. Over the course of working on this report, I was shocked with the state of affairs and started feeling very strongly towards working in this field. I had a chat with my boss and we agreed that I will take a year off to explore if I should make this switch. I volunteered with an NGO working on women and child healthcare in Baroda for a period of 6 months. And then spent the rest of the year traveling, living and working with my childhood friends who had started their own organizations. I came back from my sabbatical and joined Armman full-time - an organization that works on creating scalable solutions empowering mothers and enabling healthy children.”, says Kruti
6. Reach for something ambitious
Ever wanted to do something that seemed too difficult, improbable or unrealistic? Having the safety net of the option to get back to your job; why not go for it?
"I was always a tiny sort of person. The one who would always stand in front of a line arranged height-wise, the first one to sit on someone’s lap if there were too many people in a car, one of the last ones to be picked for a team in sports. I got to know about a one-month Basic Mountaineering Course at the Himalaya Mountaineering Institute last year. It seemed intense. But also, so fascinating! 28 days of getting trained in everything you need to climb mountains - that too in Sikkim! My mom was shocked when I told her. But I eventually convinced her, signed up for 3 months of training and went for it. I’m a certified mountaineer now!” - Ishita
7. Do volunteer work
Helping others and doing volunteer work is another great way to spend your time! Even when you are traveling, volunteering to work with local communities in the new places you visit can make your journey all the more rich and meaningful.
What do you think will be a great way to spend a sabbatical? Write to us and we will add it to the list!