Sabbatical leave – invest in yourself

I’m back from my sabbatical leave. This January I came back to work from my six-month sabbatical leave. In this blog, I’m sharing my experiences and giving some tips for a sabbatical leave. Why? Because I felt that this leave was an awesome opportunity for me and I think that everyone should try this at some point.

I have been working in recruitment and employer branding for about 15 years now. Time flies when you’re having fun but sometimes it’s good to stop for a while. 

Read more about why I took a sabbatical leave and concrete tips on how to do it.

What to take into consideration and how to plan your sabbatical leave.

A sabbatical leave is a bit different than a typical summer holiday.

Planning a sabbatical leave can be an exciting, yet overwhelming experience. It’s important to take the time to consider especially your goals and budget before making any concrete plans. One of the first things to consider is your reason for taking a sabbatical.

Are you looking for a change of pace, time to pursue a personal project, or an opportunity to travel and explore? Or just to relax without checking your calendar? Once you have a clear idea of your goals, you can begin to plan how to achieve them. It’s also important to plan for the practical aspects of taking a leave, such as arranging for coverage at work or making arrangements for the care of any dependents. With thoughtful planning and careful consideration, a sabbatical leave can be a life-changing experience.


  • Start to plan the timing of your sabbatical well in advance. When would be the right time for you and what do you need to do beforehand?
  • Make a financial plan for the leave. You probably don’t have continuous income during your sabbatical, so you need to calculate all of your expenses for the upcoming sabbatical. Keep in mind also when you’ll get your next salary. This might also mean starting to save money for your sabbatical 1-2 years beforehand to ensure you have the funds to do the things you want to do.
  • Start the discussion in your organisation. I started my discussion about 4 to 5 months before my leave. Sometimes it might need more time, sometimes less.
  • Make a plan for the leave. What would you like to achieve and do during your leave?

The effects

Sabbatical leave can be a valuable tool for professionals looking to recharge, gain new perspectives, and improve their overall well-being.

The benefits of taking a sabbatical extend beyond simply getting a break from work, as it can provide an opportunity for personal growth, learning new skills, and exploring new interests.

Additionally, taking a sabbatical can help alleviate burnout, reduce stress, and improve mental health. Research has shown that individuals who take sabbaticals tend to return to work with renewed energy, increased productivity, and a greater sense of purpose.

Furthermore, it offers a chance to take a step back, reflect on one’s life, career, and priorities, and make any necessary changes.

Overall, a sabbatical leave can be an incredibly beneficial experience, offering the chance to come back to work with a renewed sense of purpose and energy

So, what did I really do on my sabbatical?

I only had a few easy goals

  1. Rest and live without a calendar or schedules
  2. Meet friends that I haven’t seen in ages
  3. Go to music festivals and gigs
  4. At least one trip to another country

Was I successful with my goals? Oh yes :) Because the goals were realistic and accomplishable, I was able to fulfill them all. I enjoyed every one of them but definitely, the best was living without any schedules. Sometimes I didn’t even plan my next day but instead checked my mood in the morning and went with the flow.

And what kind of bands did I see and where did I travel? The list of bands is big, here are a few: Diablo, Turmion Kätilöt, Sepultura, Brothers of Metal, Grillijono K.O., Huora (it’s a band), Sunrise Avenue, Raskasta Joulua, and many, many more + Flow Festival (Nick Cave was the best). This time I traveled to sunny Los Angeles for two weeks.

I know what you might be thinking, but how do I go back to a ‘normal life’ after this? Is there a life after the sabbatical?

Yes, there is. But it’s important to orient yourself back to business.

Here are a few suggestions for reorienting yourself back to work after a sabbatical:

  1. Change your daily routines (if needed) back to work life. For example: on my leave, I didn’t have routines. I went to sleep when I felt like it and woke up whenever. I changed this well before I went back to work.
  2. Take it slow: Don’t try to jump back into work at full speed right away. Ease yourself back in by starting with smaller tasks and gradually building up to larger projects.
  3. Connect with colleagues: Reach out to your colleagues and schedule some time to catch up on what you missed while you were away. This will help you get a sense of what has changed at the company and what you need to know to get back up to speed.
  4. Review your previous work: Take some time to review your previous work and see what you can learn from it. This will help you identify areas for improvement and ensure you’re picking up where you left off.
  5. Set priorities: Assess which projects and tasks are the most important for you to focus on, and prioritize them accordingly.
  6. Communicate openly with your manager and team: let your manager and team know of your return and plan with them how to readjust and what your priorities are so that you can be on the same page.
  7. Reflect and renew: A sabbatical can be an opportunity for self-reflection and renewal. Take some time to reflect on your experience and think about how you can bring new insights and perspectives to your work.

Remember that getting back into the swing of things can take time and patience. Be kind to yourself as you adjust, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.

Now I have been back in business since January 2023. When I came back I found a renewed energy and excitement. My brain is functioning again with full power. As I’m writing this I am participating in two architect recruitments, planning a cyber security meetup, and developing a new service with my colleagues. 

I highly recommend taking the time for a sabbatical, especially if you have been working for many years in a row without a break.

Want to know more?

If you want to hear more about my experiences or share yours, feel free to contact me.

LinkedIn: Jarkko Dahlström

[email protected]