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Professional time-out: the 10-step plan for a successful sabbatical

"Only when you know what you are made of can you convince others of it"


The decision to take a sabbatical year is rarely made overnight. What scares many people the most: The immense preparation time, which in fact cannot be underestimated. So that anyone who is thinking of taking a break can actually take it, you will find a comprehensive 10-step plan for a successful sabbatical here. This not only helps you to organize everything in a structured manner, but also guarantees you will be more excited about your professional break. Above all, however, the following applies: Find out WHY you want to take a sabbatical at all - because this is the only way we can pursue the goal of making the break really a success!

Stage 1: Make a decision

Before you rush into the preparations, you need to make a clear decision: Do you want to take a professional break - yes or no?

Only if you are really sure and fully support the project will you not regret it afterwards. There is no point in planning a sabbatical year just because it is trendy right now and others are euphoric about how well the break has done them. If you want to take this step, then only out of personal motivation.

Step 2: Let people know you are close to you

Since support and support from the personal environment are important, it is advisable to let individual close people know about your plans as soon as possible. Especially when you have a partner, it is essential to speak openly about the project - after all, he or she might want to experience the adventure of time-out together with you.

The basic rule is: Only initiate the people around you whom you really want to tell about it. There will always be people who have doubts about your project and will express them out loud. So think carefully about who you are talking to about your sabbatical year - and who are not.

Step 3: Plan the content of your sabbatical year

It is a misconception that a sabbatical year should always be used automatically for a trip around the world. Anyone who decides to take a break from their job - or, in new German, a sabbatical - is free to decide what to do during the period. If you're looking for ideas, you might find them here.

When planning the content, you should definitely ask yourself how long the sabbatical year should be in total. Nowhere is there a requirement to take a full 12 months off.

By the way: It is completely normal to get cold feet while planning the sabbatical year. In this post, we have compiled 10 typical fears and revealed how you can overcome them.

Step 4: Create a checklist

When the decision has been made and you can look forward to the support of a few initiates, the next step is to consider what needs to be done before the start of the sabbatical year. The answer: a lot!

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all sabbatical year checklist. What you have to regulate, plan and organize in detail always depends on how or with what you want to spend your time-out (→ level 3). Basically, however, you should always have these points on your screen: Financing, work, health, insurance, general information and re-entry.

Step 5: Create a (rough) schedule

So that there is no rude awakening at the end, and instead you can plan so that everything is done shortly before the start of the sabbatical year, it is advisable to create a rough schedule. This means that you should not only ask yourself what needs to be organized and done, but also by when.

The checklist, for example, serves as an ideal basis for the schedule. Many people who organize a sabbatical year simply note next to the individual to dos on the list by when they have to be ticked off. If this is too confusing for you, we recommend a separate overview.

Level 6: Think about funding

The next stage of the sabbatical year plan is found by many to be rather uncomfortable or even a nuisance. Nevertheless, it is of enormous importance. The question is: How do I finance my time off?

As always, the answer cannot be formulated across the board. Many temporary dropouts live on savings and / or continued wages during the sabbatical year. Others, such as entrepreneurs and freelancers, (additionally) deal with the concept of passive income.

If you work as an employee, you should definitely clarify the financing issue in consultation with your employer. If both parties approach the issue openly, it is very likely that a solution will be found that everyone can live with.

Reading tips on financing a sabbatical:

Step 7: Inform your employer about your sabbatical plan

When is the best time to talk to your employer about the planned break - opinions are divided. You can certainly talk to your boss much earlier, but there is one thing you should be aware of:

The better prepared you are for the entertainment, the better.

There's no point in throwing yourself headlong into this situation and not knowing exactly what you want at all. In order to convince your boss, you should:

  • explain to him exactly what a sabbatical year is
  • Make it clear what the motivation / the reason for your time off is
  • name an exact time period for your project
  • Present your thoughts on the financial aspect
  • Have arguments in hand that speak in favor of a sabbatical year
  • be ready to find a compromise solution
  • give him time to think about it

Stage 8: Make arrangements for time out

Canceling a magazine subscription, subletting your apartment, taking out international insurance, parking the car with your parents ... there are countless things that have to be done before the sabbatical year. Once you've got the green light from your employer, you can finally start ticking these off, one step at a time. Always have your checklist and schedule in view.

Stage 9: Think about how you will record your sabbatical year

Whether it is a trip around the world, building a house, family planning or the “search for the meaning of life” - whoever decides on a sabbatical year, decides on a big change. It is only logical to document this in some way.

Before you begin your time-out, you should take a moment to consider how you would like to capture your coming experiences. Classic in the form of pictures? Or maybe with a diary or even a blog?

Level 10: let go

The time has come! The sabbatical year is imminent. At the last stage of the plan, there is still something very crucial to do: Let go of your everyday life behind you. For most people, a sabbatical is a unique and decisive experience that will change a lot in life.

While this can be intimidating, it is important that you look forward to what is coming. In this context, letting go also means: opening up to new things and just letting them come towards you.

Now it's up to YOU!

In 10 steps to the “perfect sabbatical year” for you personally - that sounds like a feasible plan! But of course we also know too well that not everything can always be converted into a scheme or a “to-to-list”: the prerequisites are too individual, the answer to the question of what exactly is “one” for each individual is too different perfect professional break or the ideal sabbatical ”! Hence our question to you, dear prospective sabbatical takers: What, from your own personal point of view, defines your “perfect break from work”? What are your goals and wishes that you associate with them? At which stage of implementation are you currently - or are you still weighing up whether you should even dare to take this courageous step (you know our very personal answer to this :-))?

Please let us know in the comments - and also if you still know a “step 11” that is still missing here!