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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break

Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break

In our dynamic, career-driven society, time often moves so fast that we find ourselves constantly trying to keep up with it. At first, there’s just one deadline, maybe two. Soon, commitments with friends and family start to merge. You run. Nights turn to days as you stay up late, trying to squeeze in more minutes into what’s already gone.

Still you keep going. Until you quickly realize that although your feet are moving, you are not. It’s as if everything and everyone else exists in a place where you cannot follow. And you’re stuck watching them like a reel of film. Just when time feels like it moved again, you fall. Hard, cold, exhausted.

Do you usually wish that you could get up and leave everything behind? Well, not literally, of course. But a break would definitely be nice. Ever heard of the term sabbatical? How about a career break? A lot of people are familiar with these words and even use them interchangeably – but they’re different from each other. Here’s how they can help you catch the break you deserve (and maybe even help you on the road to a better career).

Sabbatical vs. Career Break: Which One Is Better?

“We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you.” – Eric Roth

According to an article by career break coach, Sue Hadden, a sabbatical is a more formal scheme offered by companies to qualified workers.[1] Examples are Nike and Adobe, big corporations that give employees the option of a sabbatical after they have served a certain number of years. It’s like a benefit, similar to getting pension contributions.

This is a good option for those who want to work in the same company or position after a long break.

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Sabbaticals are typically used for:

  • Relaxation from work burn-out
  • Learning/honing new skills
  • Traveling the world
  • Volunteering; or
  • General reflecting

If you’ve been feeling stressed out lately and you’re fairly certain that you just need a long break, ask your HR department about sabbaticals. Depending on your company’s policies, it might be partially unpaid or not at all. Check if you qualify for this perk and you might just fulfill that dream getaway sooner than you think.

Plus, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ll have a job to come back to.

A career break on the other hand, is typically what you resort to if your company does NOT have a sabbatical policy. This will involve handing over your resignation. The upside is that you’re not tied to the organization anymore, which means you can take your time and hop on the career train whenever you’re ready!

Career breaks are perfect if you want to:

  • Switch to a new career
  • Start a business
  • Go into freelancing
  • Travel the world more extensively
  • Get experience for a job you’re not qualified for yet

For some folks, going on sabbatical was the best decisions they ever made. For others, a career break was the more practical approach. Deciding which one suits your needs best would depend on YOU.

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Think about why you need a break in the first place. Decide for how long you want to be away from work. Then, weigh the pros and cons of your choice.

6 Things To Keep In Mind During Your Break

“I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view.” – Eric Roth

Let’s assume that you’ve made up your mind on which break you want to take. You’re all set: finances are in order, friends and family members have your back, and you’re mentally geared to make this the best experience of your life (so far). Here are six things you need to consider before heading out the door:

1. Always keep your resume updated.

During your sabbatical or career break, new opportunities might come knocking. You want to be prepared for anything. So make sure you take a few minutes to update your resume. List new skills you have gained along the way. Write what you learned on a new section called “Life Experiences”. Pick your words wisely. This time you have all the hours you need.

2. Keep yourself healthy.

If you took a sabbatical or career break due to work burnout, don’t just sit on the couch binge-watching on Netflix! That diet you’ve wanted to try is waiting for you. Stop procrastinating and join your buddy for a jog. Meditate. Relieve the stress you’ve accumulated up to this point.

3. Avoid burning bridges.

Even if you resigned for a career break, do NOT burn bridges. Who knows – you might need those people again in the future. Today, there are various ways to stay connected. There’s social media, messaging apps, and the traditional text or call.

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4. Create good web presence.

As you hop from one adventure to another, make sure you’re also minding what you post online. Whether it’s a sabbatical or career break, you don’t want employers getting the wrong idea. That time you went hiking in Thailand? Cool. How about that binge-drinking session with old college buddies? Not so cool.

Keeping your personal brand in check while out and about ensures that you’ll have nothing to clean up after all the adrenaline has ebbed.[2]

5. Reflect a lot.

If you were used to 80-hour workweeks, you might find it hard to relax and do nothing for the first days of your break. Don’t forget to relish these quiet moments with yourself. Pick up a good book and sit by the window. Take long walks alone. Revel in the fact that for once, you’re not racing to catch up with time.

Imagine your future. Think about what makes you happy. Immerse in the moment.

6. Use time wisely.

It can be tempting to do nothing for days. But before you know it, days have turned into weeks, weeks into months. What do you have to show for your sabbatical or career break? What adventures did you take? What did you learn?

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career-time

    It’s amazing to finally have all the time in the world: but once you have it, what do you do with it? Use it wisely. Even if you’re in a two-year sabbatical, you’d be surprised at how fast time flies.

    If you took a career break, you might be wondering how it would impact your career. While a lot of employers and hiring managers don’t care for gaps in employment history, you should still be prepared for people who won’t be as understanding.[3]

    This is why you should make each second count. Don’t waste your precious time just lounging around (you can always do catch-up marathons on the weekends). The important thing to remember after your sabbatical or career break is that the right job will understand why you wanted the time off.

    For now, don’t sweat about it too much. This is your gift to yourself, remember?

    Sabbatical or Career Break? You Choose

    “I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” – Eric Roth

    Whether you’re taking a break to take care of your family or yourself, you shouldn’t see it as a luxury. We all need time for ourselves. It’s how we assess how far we’ve come, and where to go next. So avoid feeling guilty!

    Don’t wait until the last moments to truly LIVE.

    Featured photo credit: Adrianna Calvo/Pexels.com via pexels.com

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    Cris Antonio

    Content Strategist, Storyteller

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

    How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)

    Taking your work to the next level means setting and keeping career goals. A career goal is a targeted objective that explains what you want your ultimate profession to be.

    Defining career goals is a critical step to achieving success. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. Knowing what your career goals are isn’t just important for you–it’s important for potential employers too. The relationship between an employer and an employee works best when your goals for the future and their goals align. Saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll do anything,” makes you seem indecisive, and opens you up to taking on ill-fitting tasks that won’t lead you to your dream life.

    Career goal templates’ one-size-fits-all approach won’t consider your unique goals and experiences. They won’t help you stand out, and they may not reflect your full potential.

    In this article, I’ll help you to define your career goals with SMART goal framework, and will provide you with a list of examples goals for work and career.

    How to Define Your Career Goal with SMART

    Instead of relying on a generalized framework to explain your vision, use a tried-and-true goal-setting model. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.”[1] The SMART framework demystifies goals by breaking them into smaller steps.

    Helpful hints when setting SMART career goals:

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    • Start with short-term goals first. Work on your short-term goals, and then progress the long-term interests.[2] Short-term goals are those things which take 1-3 years to complete. Long-term goals take 3-5 years to do. As you succeed in your short-term goals, that success should feed into accomplishing your long-term goals.
    • Be specific, but don’t overdo it. You need to define your career goals, but if you make them too specific, then they become unattainable. Instead of saying, “I want to be the next CEO of Apple, where I’ll create a billion-dollar product,” try something like, “My goal is to be the CEO of a successful company.”
    • Get clear on how you’re going to reach your goals. You should be able to explain the actions you’ll take to advance your career. If you can’t explain the steps, then you need to break your goal down into more manageable chunks.
    • Don’t be self-centered. Your work should not only help you advance, but it should also support the goals of your employer. If your goals differ too much, then it might be a sign that the job you’ve taken isn’t a good fit.

    If you want to learn more about setting SMART Goals, watch the video below to learn how you can set SMART career goals.

    After you’re clear on how to set SMART goals, you can use this framework to tackle other aspects of your work. For instance, you might set SMART goals to improve your performance review, look for a new job, or shift your focus to a different career.

    We’ll cover examples of ways to use SMART goals to meet short-term career goals in the next section.

    Why You Need an Individual Development Plan

    Setting goals is one part of the larger formula for success. You may know what you want to do, but you also have to figure out what skills you have, what you lack, and where your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

    One of the best ways to understand your capabilities is by using the Science Careers Individual Development Plan skills assessment. It’s free, and all you need to do is register an account and take a few assessments.

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    These assessments will help you determine if your career goals are realistic. You’ll come away with a better understanding of your unique talents and skill-sets. You may decide to change some of your career goals or alter your timeline based on what you learn.

    40 Examples of Goals for Work & Career

    All this talk of goal-setting and self-assessment may sound great in theory, but perhaps you need some inspiration to figure out what your goals should be.

    For Changing a Job

    1. Attend more networking events and make new contacts.
    2. Achieve a promotion to __________ position.
    3. Get a raise.
    4. Plan and take a vacation this year.
    5. Agree to take on new responsibilities.
    6. Develop meaningful relationships with your coworkers and clients.
    7. Ask for feedback on a regular basis.
    8. Learn how to say, “No,” when you are asked to take on too much.
    9. Delegate tasks that you no longer need to be responsible for.
    10. Strive to be in a leadership role in __ number of years.

    For Switching Career Path

    1. Pick up and learn a new skill.
    2. Find a mentor.
    3. Become a volunteer in the field that interests you.
    4. Commit to getting training or going back to school.
    5. Read the most recent books related to your field.
    6. Decide whether you are happy with your work-life balance and make changes if necessary. [3]
    7. Plan what steps you need to take to change careers.[4]
    8. Compile a list of people who could be character references or submit recommendations.
    9. Commit to making __ number of new contacts in the field this year.
    10. Create a financial plan.

    For Getting a Promotion

    1. Reduce business expenses by a certain percentage.
    2. Stop micromanaging your team members.
    3. Become a mentor.
    4. Brainstorm ways that you could improve your productivity and efficiency at work
    5. Seek a new training opportunity to address a weakness.[5]
    6. Find a way to organize your work space.[6]
    7. Seek feedback from a boss or trusted coworker every week/ month/ quarter.
    8. Become a better communicator.
    9. Find new ways to be a team player.
    10. Learn how to reduce work hours without compromising productivity.

    For Acing a Job Interview

    1. Identify personal boundaries at work and know what you should do to make your day more productive and manageable.
    2. Identify steps to create a professional image for yourself.
    3. Go after the career of your dreams to find work that does not feel like a job.
    4. Look for a place to pursue your interest and apply your knowledge and skills.
    5. Find a new way to collaborate with experts in your field.
    6. Identify opportunities to observe others working in the career you want.
    7. Become more creative and break out of your comfort zone.
    8. Ask to be trained more relevant skills for your work.
    9. Ask for opportunities to explore the field and widen your horizon
    10. Set your eye on a specific award at work and go for it.

    Career Goal Setting FAQs

    I’m sure you still have some questions about setting your own career goals, so here I’m listing out the most commonly asked questions about career goals.

    1. What if I’m not sure what I want my career to be?

    If you’re uncertain, be honest about it. Let the employer know as much as you know about what you want to do. Express your willingness to use your strengths to contribute to the company. When you take this approach, back up your claim with some examples.

    If you’re not even sure where to begin with your career, check out this guide:

    How to Find Your Ideal Career Path Without Wasting Time on Jobs Not Suitable for You

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    2. Is it okay to lie about my career goals?

    Lying to potential employers is bound to end in disaster. In the interview, a lie can make you look foolish because you won’t know how to answer follow up questions.

    Even if you think your career goal may not precisely align with the employer’s expectations for a long-term hire, be open and honest. There’s probably more common ground than they realize, and it’s up to you to bridge any gaps in expectations.

    Being honest and explaining these connections shows your employer that you’ve put a lot of thought into this application. You aren’t just telling them what they want to hear.

    3. Is it better to have an ambitious goal, or should I play it safe?

    You should have a goal that challenges you, but SMART goals are always reasonable. If you put forth a goal that is way beyond your capabilities, you will seem naive. Making your goals too easy shows a lack of motivation.

    Employers want new hires who are able to self-reflect and are willing to take on challenges.

    4. Can I have several career goals?

    It’s best to have one clearly-defined career goal and stick with it. (Of course, you can still have goals in other areas of your life.) Having a single career goal shows that you’re capable of focusing, and it shows that you like to accomplish what you set out to do.

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    On the other hand, you might have multiple related career goals. This could mean that you have short-term goals that dovetail into your ultimate long-term career goal. You might also have several smaller goals that feed into a single purpose.

    For example, if you want to become a lawyer, you might become a paralegal and attend law school at the same time. If you want to be a school administrator, you might have initial goals of being a classroom teacher and studying education policy. In both cases, these temporary jobs and the extra education help you reach your ultimate goal.

    Summary

    You’ll have to devote some time to setting career goals, but you’ll be so much more successful with some direction. Remember to:

    • Set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, and Realistic with Timelines. When you set goals with these things in mind, you are likely to achieve the outcomes you want.
    • Have short-term and long-term goals. Short-term career goals can be completed in 1-3 years, while long-term goals will take 3-5 years to finish. Your short-term goals should set you up to accomplish your long-term goals.
    • Assess your capabilities by coming up with an Individual Development Plan. Knowing how to set goals won’t help you if you don’t know yourself. Understand what your strengths and weaknesses are by taking some self-assessments.
    • Choose goals that are appropriate to your ultimate aims. Your career goals should be relevant to one another. If they aren’t, then you may need to narrow your focus. Your goals should match the type of job that you want and the quality of life that you want to lead.
    • Be clear about your goals with potential employers. Always be honest with potential employers about what you want to do with your life. If your goals differ from the company’s objectives, find a way bridge the gap between what you want for yourself and what your employer expects.

    By doing goal-setting work now, you’ll be able to make conscious choices on your career path. You can always adjust your plan if things change for you, but the key is to give yourself a road map for success.

    More Tips About Setting Work Goals

    Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

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