On a career break or sabbatical? 10 things to do with time off work

Going on a career break or taking a sabbatical? Here are a list of the 10 things you should do to make the most of the new time that you've got.
Author Headshot
Olivia Higgs
Jul 30
6.5 mins
Jul 30
6.5 mins

For those of you wondering whether to take a sabbatical or  full career break, here’s a list of 10 things you can do with your time off work. It’s a great time to pursue passions new and old, to make time for creativity, explore new perspectives, and travel to places far and wide. 

1. Experiment with a new career

For many, who haven’t found their calling in life just yet, a career break is a great way to explore new industries. If you’re looking for a hard reset, try a range of different jobs either part time, as a freelancer, or as a volunteer. This is your opportunity to get creative - the more diverse the better! You could volunteer for a wildlife sanctuary, help out on a farm, work for a tech startup, freelance as a travel writer or get a taste for the movie industry either as an extra or as an assistant behind the camera.

2. Work on your hobbies & creative skills

Putting time towards your existing hobbies or picking up new ones, particularly a physical skill can be very therapeutic, and a great way to switch off from the everyday pace of life. Over 90% of adults spend the majority of their free time watching TV, and as much as we all like to vegetate on the sofa, hobbies reduce stress, improve your mental health, are a great way to meet new people and boost creativity. If you’re not sure where to start, Rassa offers 6 week online programs where you can work on your techniques and skills in the likes of food, fashion and beauty with the support and feedback from industry specialists.

3. Travel

Now that borders have reopened, there’s no time like the present to start exploring the world. Visit some of the world’s natural locations from the desert in Namibia to the Icelandic hot springs or the Irish countryside. Use the time to learn a new language whilst you’re fully immersed in  the country and its culture, or explore belly first trying different cuisines. That said, traveling isn’t always cheap, which is why many opt for remote freelancing whilst travelling or a work exchange where you can offer your time in exchange for accommodation - help out with grape picking and wine making on a vineyard, teach English with a host family or help out on a farm or ranch. If none of that takes your fancy, you can always explore closer to home and visit parts of the country you’ve never been to before. Better still, plan out a full road trip.

4. Read

A sabbatical is the perfect opportunity to look at our reading habits. Often many take a break as they feel uninspired but sometimes thinking about where we get our information and creative inputs from can really help. It’s easy to fall into the trap of reading the same stuff everyone else is reading, but often a good idea comes from the sum of many different creative sources. Discover and learn from history around the world, biographies, field guides, fiction across genres, flick through photography books or books which challenge your point of view - the brain is amazing at drawing links between the seemingly unrelated to form the start of your next creative idea! 

5. Find out who you are

Many wait until retirement to dig into their family tree and history by which point it’s often harder as older relatives are no longer around to help fill the information gaps. A sabbatical is the perfect opportunity to discover more about your family’s beliefs, cultures and traditions. Not only will it help you have a stronger sense of who you are but it’s a great way to bring you closer together with older family members. You can also use this time to capture your own story in the form of a diary, blog or scrapbook, ready to pass on to the next generation.

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6. Invest

Taking a step back from your usual day-to-day, makes you think about how you’re using your money. Often people think they need a lot of money to get into investing but there are many options available for new investors looking to invest in smaller amounts. Of course, your risk tolerance is a factor to consider and the most important thing is making sure you’re not investing more than you can. Investing in different projects and ideas can be risky but also incredibly rewarding. For smaller amounts, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Crowdcube are great. Alternatively, you can invest as an individual or join up with a group of angel investors. This is where you can build a portfolio around areas you’re passionate about - anything from big ideas tackling climate change, to local community initiatives. It can also be rewarding if beyond the monetary value you’re able to offer up relevant experience and advice. 

7. Switch up your living situation

A sabbatical is a great time for a change of living environment to open yourself up to new influences. Co-living is a popular way of living not only for cost saving but because you have the positives of the social activities that come with it. Joint co-living and coworking spaces can be a convenient option if you’re temporarily living abroad and want to meet new people. It’s now easier than ever to live and work abroad with the increase in digital nomad visas - Croatia, Norway, Spain, Barbados, Dominica, Sri Lanka are just a few of those looking to attract globe-trotting laptop workers. Even just switching things up in your home country can offer a new perspective - swapping the city for rural life for example. If you’re after minimalism and adventure, the van life movement is a great way to dip into nomadic living whilst in the familiar surroundings of your own country.

8. Start a side hustle or small business

There’s no better time than now to start a side hustle, especially if you’re on a career break and looking to turn your creative passions into money. You wouldn’t be alone - 1 in 3 people now have some sort of side hustle, and that’ll increase to 4 in 5 over the next decade. For a lot of us, the pandemic has forced us to think about what we want to do with our life and has also shown us how important it is to diversify our income streams as job security is never guaranteed. It can be lonely and daunting starting a business on your own which is why at Rassa we also have business programs available designed to reduce costly mistakes and give you the support you need to get your idea launched into the market.

9. Give back

Whilst you have the spare time, it can be great to offer some up to others. Have a look at local charities, care homes, food banks, animal shelters etc. who might need the extra help. Alternatively, mentoring can also be a great way to share your experience with young people thinking about their careers. You  could even get involved with tackling some of the global issues we face today by volunteering for the peace corps or supporting environmental groups.

10. Relax!

And finally, sometimes a bit of R&R is the best way to reset. The threat of burnout is not one to ignore so if you’re taking a sabbatical, use the time to look after yourself. Pay attention to your sleep, food and water intake, spend time in nature, kick some bad habits and maybe think about treating yourself to that long overdue spa retreat!

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