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The ultimate work-life balance move: how to wangle a career break

If you have dreamed of making a huge change in your professional life, you are not alone

We have all at some point let our minds wander and imagined what it would be like to completely overhaul our entire existence and try something new for a time; however, taking pro-active steps to making this a reality is something that fewer people go through with.

Why do you want it?

Before starting to plan a career break, you should ask yourself a big question: why do you want this? By being clear on what you want from time out of the workplace, you are being honest with yourself about whether it is actually a break from your career you need or a break from your particular role. If you establish whether you want to add more worldly experiences to your life, want to help people in far-flung areas of the globe or have a burning desire to learn something completely new, you are in a better position to act on your desires.

Getting what you are asking for

The big worry for most people wanting a career break is approaching their employer. It helps if you are a long-serving employee, of course, and have built up a strong and trusting relationship with the company for which you work. Sabbaticals are not something that companies are legally obliged to offer; however, it is becoming more common for them to be part of the workplace culture.

When approaching your employer with your plans, it is a good idea to leave as much time as possible between your request and the date you would like to start your break, as this will show your commitment to making sure your workload is covered. Be prepared to explain why you feel time off will benefit your employer, such as the desire to add a new skill to your repertoire.

Organisation is key

Once you have secured the go-ahead for a sabbatical, you need to plan – and plan a lot. You will need to solidify leave and return dates and consider the financial side of things; for example, will you still be eligible for company bonuses?

Having everything documented will mean you are covered for every eventuality, from not wanting to return to your position to being made redundant while you are away. Then, of course, it is all about planning at home; for example, how you will cover your mortgage, where you will go, and the all-important essential of travel insurance.

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