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anyone taken sabbatical/gap years??
Old 02-01-2017, 08:22 AM   #1
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anyone taken sabbatical/gap years??

Just weighing some options here. I'm 49 and am in the last accumulation years towards ER. I was reading a thread about heath & aging and it got me thinking about how important it is to take time to enjoy life.

Since I haven't hit FIRE, I do need to keep working (or move to Thailand!), but I find myself really burning out at work. I have a high stress job in the entertainment industry that pays really well, but I'm craving a break.

I'd love to hear any of your stories about taking a sabbatical in the late accumulation phase. Was it the right thing for you to do? Or did you look back and regret it for any reasons?

Thanks!
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Old 02-01-2017, 09:00 AM   #2
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I took a 1 year sabbatical at age 42 and used it to do an MBA. I worked harder that year than before or since, but it was a brilliant experience. I was mostly self funded, so to minimize the financial hit, I did a lot of overtime in the years surrounding my sabbatical. Afterwards, I worked another 12 years before ER. My sabbatical did not increase my earning power much but it opened up new career avenues that I really enjoyed. So it was worth it.
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Old 02-01-2017, 12:52 PM   #3
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I took a 2 year sabbatical at age 53.

Actually it was a 2 year non-compete tied to an incredibly generous severance.

Sabbatical ended in 2008 just as the downturn hit. Best thing that ever happened to me as it forced me into RE.

Truthfully, I never really intended to go back to work anyway.
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Old 02-01-2017, 03:27 PM   #4
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I saw a few people at work take an 'in cubical sabbatical'. Worked out OK for some, not so well for others.
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Old 02-01-2017, 03:29 PM   #5
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I am currently in the middle of a one year sabbatical. Loving it.
Will probably have a new appreciation for megacorp when i go back. One of the things i like about this is it gives me a taste of the RE side of FIRE
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Old 02-01-2017, 03:41 PM   #6
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At 40 for me and 45 for DW we packed up the kids and moved overseas to work for 3 years. I especially was totally burned out and couldn't figure out a way to work less. It was stressful to make the move, moreso for DW, but was an amazing experience and was just what the doctor ordered in terms of time with family, smelling the roses and all that.
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Old 02-01-2017, 05:28 PM   #7
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I took a 1 year sabbatical in 1990 (age 40) after working overseas for a number of years to find out what I wanted to do when I grew up. What I found out during my sabbatical is that I loved being on sabbatical. My goal then became to save and invest enough so I could go on permanent sabbatical which I did at the end of 2002. I didn't know before the sabbatical how I would react to being my own time and task director. I found out I loved the job
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Old 02-01-2017, 06:58 PM   #8
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I'm taking a very long one right now, between work and death

At least, I hope it will be very long.........................
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Old 02-01-2017, 07:05 PM   #9
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I took a two month paid sabbatical at age 51. Bought a motorhome and travelled all around the USA and Canada. Loved it.
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Old 02-01-2017, 07:40 PM   #10
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I have taken 2 sabbaticals. First one was 1 year in duration after ~12 years of w*rk at megacorp. The year flew by and, looking back, I would do it all over again.

Second "sabbatical" was 5 years in length to get a doctorate. Beforehand, I completely underestimated the amount of time and energy the courses and research would take. Surprisingly, there were a handful of other folks pursuing mid-career doctorates that I met at academic conferences. Definitely not a path that I would recommend for just anyone, but it was quite the challenge.
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Old 02-01-2017, 09:31 PM   #11
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I'm glad for this post. I've long wanted to take a year or so and circumnavigate the world. DW and I have started the four year countdown and I just hope we can do it. These next four years will be a sprint. After the trip, meh, some kind of simple work would be alright to keep out of trouble.
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Old 02-01-2017, 09:59 PM   #12
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I can imagine how this would be great, however, I can't imagine how one would get back to work. I would think it would be very hard to get rehired. Thinking of age discrimination as well as losing your knowledge of the field you're in. I can see it happening the younger you are or if you were blessed and your employer sanctioned it and would take you back. Also later in your work career is probably not the best time financially to take a break - highest earning years.

I like the idea of going to work in a foreign country and the time off for a new/different educational experience sounds great too.
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Old 02-01-2017, 10:06 PM   #13
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In 2000, right after I got married, DH and I both took 12 week unpaid leave from our jobs. We'd gotten married a few months earlier and wanted to travel. The job market was hot - but my manager didn't want to let me take the time... but HIS boss thought it was a great idea. The company official policy said it was at the manager's discretion. The job market was hot - so I'd be hard to replace and my boss's boss pointed that out to my boss. My immediate HR rep was ok - but was new to the job - and so she bumped the approval up to her boss... my HR nemesis (mentioned in the HR thread). She tried to refuse the request - but couldn't offer a reason why... so I submitted it to *her* boss. The corporate VP of HR approved the request and asked her why she'd refused it. (ha!)

We spent 6 weeks doing a drive trip across the country and back - and I found I was preggers with older son on that trip. Then we spent 4 weeks tooling around Europe. It was a GREAT way to start our marriage off. Then it was back to the grind.

No regrets whatsoever about taking the 12 weeks off. I'd have taken a year if company policy had allowed.

I retired 14 years later.
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Old 02-01-2017, 10:42 PM   #14
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I took one year off at age 52. Megacorp was offering a very attractive voluntary severance package that would cover two years of expenses and I jumped on it.

It wasn't all fun and games. I got a professional certification while I was off work to bolster my resume for the transition back to work. Studying for that took 6 hours a day for about 3 months, so I still had time for relaxing evenings, leisurely walks and cooking nice meals, but no travel or major goofing off. I also took the free career counseling classes to get my resume updated, understand the current job market, etc.

The other 9 months were nice. Really really nice. I did not have any problems with entertaining myself, even on the cheap, confirming that early retirement will work well for me.

At the end of the year I start the job search in earnest. It took two months. I went into consulting/contract work and have been doing that for the past 3 years now. It is a refreshing change from being a full-time employee. Now I just need to deal with the OMC issue -- should I do One More Contract, or hang it up when this one completes. Decisions, decisions . . . . .

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Old 02-02-2017, 07:32 AM   #15
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I'm glad you asked the question, because it's an appealing option. It seems that when we talk of "sabbatical," people are discussing very different scenarios, though. Some people are leaving with their boss's blessing, with an option to return. Some are just quitting or being severed, with no plans to go back to that work.

Jerry expressed some of my concerns.
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Old 02-02-2017, 07:40 AM   #16
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I'm glad you asked the question, because it's an appealing option. It seems that when we talk of "sabbatical," people are discussing very different scenarios, though. Some people are leaving with their boss's blessing, with an option to return. Some are just quitting or being severed, with no plans to go back to that work.

Jerry expressed some of my concerns.
Yeah I'm pretty sure my company wouldn't give me any kind of guarantee to return if I left for a year. More likely I'd have to find a new gig on the other side. Interesting to see how everyone has been able to work it out though.
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Old 02-02-2017, 09:27 AM   #17
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I've taken a couple of years off during my career. My last sabbatical was when I was 41 and between jobs. My wife was working and let me take a year off to complete a recording project. After that year, I started looking around again and got a new job with the parent of my previous company that sustained me until ER at 53. It was a great break and ended up being a good career move too.
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Old 02-02-2017, 10:42 AM   #18
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Twice when I was between jobs, I went to Latin America and enrolled in a Spanish-language school. I also brought my bike with me to tour on. When I eventually returned home and went on job interviews, "studying Spanish in Latin America" seemed to be a very satisfactory answer to the inevitable question about what I had been doing since my last job. Depending on the interviewer, I would sometimes also mention bicycle touring. It, too, was generally well accepted.
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Old 02-02-2017, 11:42 AM   #19
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After I RE (this year), I expect DW will still work for a while. But after we both are RE we had discussed taking first year as a "gap year". Idea would be sell home, travel for a year or to places we know we would like to visit say even for a few months at a time, possible places to move. A prelude to what happens next. Also consistent with the idea of being "on sabbatical" rather than "retired".

When I mentioned this to some other FIRE-ers, it was a bit of a blank stare.

Oh well. You never get ahead of the pack by running with it.

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Old 02-02-2017, 07:14 PM   #20
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Yeah I'm pretty sure my company wouldn't give me any kind of guarantee to return if I left for a year. More likely I'd have to find a new gig on the other side.
Yeah, same here. I doubt I'd have the option to return. They aren't going to keep my job open a year or two. I would just retire, take a year or two off, then see if I wanted to go back. I'd go back to some other kind of work, maybe, or I might just stay retired. Depends on how I liked my "sabbatical."
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