Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

Career Advice with Maggie: Are work sabbaticals a good thing?

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Every other week, Maggie Mistal our radio channel's career consultant AND host of "Making a Living," will answer all your burning job and career related questions! To ask Maggie a question, email her at or ask your question in the comments section below. Also, tune in to her show, today at 4:00 pm ET on Sirius 112 and XM 157.

Dear Maggie,

Recently I found out that a good friend is taking a sabbatical. I’d love to go along as it’s always been my dream to travel. I’m in a good job though and would have to resign to take time off. I don’t want to regret not going but am scared I won’t have a job to come back to, what should I do?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

Taking a sabbatical does not preclude you from finding a job when you return. In fact, the skills you learn while on sabbatical such as a new language or contacts you make while traveling can lead to job opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Look at the facts: your experience, credentials and network -- these don’t go away just because you take a few months off. Besides for my clients who’ve gone on sabbatical they’ve found that hiring managers are intrigued by their travels. They end up having great interview conversations because most people dream of taking this kind of trip.

As the quote says, “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” If you’re ready to create yourself and your career in a way that is true to who you are, what you value, your skills, strengths, talents, interests then taking some extended time off may be just what you need. For more tips on taking a sabbatical (even if you’ve been laid-off), read my "Travel to Boost Your Career" blog post. - Maggie

Comments (5)

  • Taking time off to travel changed my life for the better. I can not even imagine my life without those experiences, those lessons learned, and the new people in my life.
    My sabbatical is my personal definition of 'life changing.' It changed my career, changed my world view, and changed my values - all for the better
    stay adventurous,

  • This is an interesting idea. You only live once and if your employer allows this type of thing (if you work at a college) then I would say go for it. :)
    I had a co-worker that took time off to take care of his son. It was the one time in his life and career where he could do that and his job was waiting for him after 3 months when he came back.

  • I took a year off to live in SE Asia. I didn't aim to have a "life changing" experience, but inevitably building a life from scratch in a different culture offers an immense number of learning opportunities and I believe I am re-entering the job market a stronger, smarter candidate.
    You have the rest of your life to work. But you might not always be able to travel.

  • Wow - so far all of you support the idea of taking time off and see it as having a positive effect on your lives and careers. So glad to hear that. If that's the case, I wonder why more people don't take work sabbaticals?

  • I have never taken a sabbatical, but recently I have had to travel a lot (family wedding, work, and a well-deserved week vacation) and I was amazed at how the time off allowed me to think about my next steps, professionally.
    The time alone on the plane, on the beach, wherever, was useful in helping me gather my thoughts and focusing in on what I want out of life, and what may come next career-wise. Being in a relaxed environment really helped me organize some new ideas.
    So while I am a little hesitant about taking a sabbatical (though these comments are inspiring) I can attest to the fact that even quick travel can result in some inspired thoughts.

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